Walsall Football Club's training grounds manager, Paul Mason, is something of a 'one man band', working unaided to maintain the League One club's two training pitches and free-training area at its practice ground in Essington, Wolverhampton.
However, the installation of a new Toro Irrigation system means irrigation is now simpler and speedier for Paul, who has been preparing the new training facility for its summer 2008 opening for the past three years. This new challenge enticed Paul back to the League One club after working at its main stadium in Bescot earlier in his career, having joined as groundsman in the early 1990s and gone on to become its grounds manager of three years.
A total of 57 Toro 855S Series sprinklers were installed on the site, with 20 sprinklers on each of the football pitches and 17 sprinklers across the additional free-training area, which is roughly the size of another two pitches. The irrigation is operated via a Toro Turf Decoder Controller (TDC) 100 control system.
"It's a big task working here on my own and this system has made my job easier," says Paul. "There's no way I could be pulling pipes around such a big area, watering different parts with mobile sprinklers. Now the water's where I want it at the touch of a button. The less time-consuming it is the better as far as I'm concerned!"
The automatic system, which was installed by LS Systems Limited in summer 2007, has helped Paul make the most of his water resource. "I have a limited water supply and have to manage it well," he explains. "One of the main benefits of this system is that I can now water at night - something we were unable to do even at the main stadium until a few years ago. Watering in the day is a waste as it just gets evaporated by the sun, but doing it at night gives the plant the chance to soak up the water."
Paul is also impressed with the system's flexibility: "I can get it going if the manager wants it on before a game or to soften the surface before the players start their training if there's been a dry spell. I can also water at the weekends without manning the system - again, just a few years ago at the main stadium we had to go in and turn the standpipes on and off. It's been great getting my weekends back!"
Tim Griffiths, project director of LS Systems, says of the installation: "Although the system was installed last summer, the grass was only sown in autumn as this was a newly constructed training facility, so the sprinklers have yet to prove their full worth. But I'm pleased to hear that Paul is saving so much time and am sure he looks forward to making full use of it."
Paul adds: "The grass is green, so it's definitely doing its job! It's been a big help."
Image: Walsall FC's training grounds manager Paul Mason says that the newly installed Toro TDC irrigation system has made his job "much easier".