Town training torment
The Northampton Town players have trained on the pitch this season 25 times already and this is added to the 29 first, reserve and youth team games played. The pitch has had its fair share of use, but the problem has been the fact that we have endured so many wet games. This fact hasn't helped at all. It makes it difficult to get on and repair the pitch and carry out the routine jobs that need to be done.
If the weather is against you, you find yourself up against it straight away. Last night we were here until 9.30pm trying to get the pitch ready for tonight's first team game against Peterborough. Things haven't been made easier because the manager has got the team training on the pitch today, the morning of the match! The first team weren't supposed to be training here today.
We cracked on with the work last night just in case the weather turned bad. We had some rain in the night and some light showers this morning and then, all of a sudden, there's a decision taken to allow them to train. That now puts us back to lunchtime, and if the weather goes bad, we're up the creek so to speak.
We had a reserve game last Wednesday, then the following 2 days it rained. We didn't manage to get back on to the pitch until Saturday. The first team were supposed to be playing away at Tranmere. However, they trained on the pitch in the morning before they went, so we had to wait even longer. We spent yesterday preparing the pitch for tonight. We put the lines down because it's easier doing it when it's not wet.
General work on the pitch includes spiking, which we do about once a week using a tractor mounted Sisis slitter spiker. However, when the weather has been bad we've kept off the pitch. We would have done more damage going on. When the weather has allowed we use the spiker, going in two directions.
We did a verti drain about three weeks ago, which was our third time this year. The first was during the summer renovations, so we have done two during the season so far. It has helped with the penetration of water through the soil. It has gone through a lot quicker when we've had these downpours.
We've been better than a lot of grounds because we haven't had heavy rain when we've played. It's been mainly prior to the game and after. We've got away quite well so far. We've had 2 reserve games when it's leathered it down, and that's caused a few problems.
So far not one game has been lost this year. We're just about surviving. If we do have any more heavy rains, I'm concerned, because we haven't got any wet covers and the pitch is pretty well full of water just at the moment.
We tend to double up our frost sheets to try to stop the ground freezing in and around the goalmouth.
This has for me been the worst year I've known for accurate weather forecasting. On a number of occasions I have spent a lot of time and effort covering the pitch, only to find that the predicted heavy frost doesn't come. The trouble is you have to take all precautions to make sure that the games go ahead.
We have eleven more first and reserve team matches to go on the pitch before the end of the season, these games are then followed by 42 other local league cup finals all played up to the end of May.
The league finishes early this year because of the World Cup, so we have played a lot of Saturday/Tuesday fixtures from November to February. This has put a lot of pressure on us to get the fixtures on through these cold and wet non-growing months; it has probably been my hardest year yet as a Groundsman.
I would prefer that we hadn't had the training sessions on the main pitch, but I can see the Managers point of view and I for one, would prefer to be watching the team play in Division Two again next season (so maybe it's worthwhile!).
However, it would be easier if the sessions were on a non-match day so I didn't feel under so much pressure.