0 Upgrading surfaces

Upgrading surfaces at Motspur Park.

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Much has been going on since I last wrote an article, particularly staff changes. Three of the staff have gone to progress their careers elsewhere, two at other Premier League grounds. We have therefore been very short staffed recently and I owe a great deal of thanks to Lee McDonald and Mick Cripps, however at long last our Human Resource Department have come up trumps and I will be welcoming Frank Grey (Brentford) and Chris Penny (Hampton) to our fold.

Our end of season renovations in the spring, on the arena area and pitch 5 consisted of scarifying, top dressing, and verti-draining. Our bottom field pitches 2, 3 and 4 were fraize mowed/koro'd, sand dressed and then vertidrained. All the pitches were over seeded with bar 7.

On average we top dressed with 60 tonnes of free draining, specified sand per pitch.

A new rain bird pop up irrigation system was installed on the arena pitch, but the old system was salvaged and the heads have been011102sprinklehead.jpg The new irrigation has helped us to keep on top of the watering, whereas before watering meant intensive labour pulling pipes on and off the pitches.

During the summer we had Kestrel Golf and Sport here to construct our new first team pitch. This is now in use and standing up very well to the wear. This training pitch also had the turf stripped off with the Koro Field top maker. The levels were re-graded and new drains installed at five metre centres.

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Once all of the sand and fibre had been mixed in, the contractors graded final levels and the surface was tilthed for seeding. A pre-seed fertiliser of 20:10:10 was used to help boost the germination of the new seed.

As I said at the start we fraize mowed the surfaces off pitches 2,3 and 4 with the Koro. The layer of thatch on these pitches had reached a peak and all the pitches were heavily infested with Poa. We are on London Clay here and I felt it was high time to strip off the vegetation. Having said that I was extremely worried once the contractors started to strip off the grass. 011102new pitch 1.jpg

When you see such a prolific amount of debris coming off and a grass mountain growing up by the back gates, you do start to wonder whether you've done the right thing. Lorries seemed to be going backwards and forwards forever taking away the rubbish.

Once the vegetation was gone, we were back to a clean surface of soil, the surface was tilthed up slightly and then over sown with Bar 7.

There has been increased usage on these pitches this year and I am very pleased with the way that they are behaving as we enter November.

On two of these pitches, I also ameliorated some fibresand into the goalmouths and to date they have performed magnificently. They tend to lose their colour a little quicker than the surrounding areas, but they have stood up well to keeper training and games.

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Moving to the present, I have just had the whole site sprayed for worms and weeds, and while the sprayer was here I put some liquid feed down on our two sand based pitches to perk them up a little. The whole site is about 25 acres, consisting of six grass pitches, one full size artificial and the quarter size field turf area.

In the summer I used Scotts Sierrablen 21:0:20 slow release fertiliser on the grassed areas. In the short term, I have been pleased with the results, but I still feel that our program needs tweaking to get it right. I work closely with Avoncrop, our local suppliers, and Scotts and I will applying a 15:0:29 feed on shortly.

The reason for changing my use of more conventional fertilisers is that my window of opportunity to fertilise regularly has become far011102arenapitc.jpg

The ground is used constantly, seven days every week. We seem to have adopted a continental style of training, with the first team coming in twice daily sometimes. Apart from the professional team, the reserves and the academy from U8's to U19's, we also have Fulham Ladies reserve side who play here, as 011102insidedom.jpg

Our existing all weather pitch has now had a 60m x 40m air dome installed on half of the area, which now means that we meet the academy criteria. This dome, completed last month, allows the academy and the professionals to train during inclement weather, but also the younger academy kids to use it in the evenings. 011102fieldtur.jpg

The other artificial field turf area behind the arena pitch was installed at the beginning of the year. It was originally built for the goalkeepers to train on, but like the rest of the players they prefer to do much of their work on natural grass. However the area is a blessing for me, as the whole squad use this area for their intensive fitness work. The fitness coach sets up all the short work, such as doggies and checking and sprints-in fact most of the damaging exercises that we had to entertain previously on the pitches. I have got a great understanding with the coaching staff, which is important, so they tend to use areas allocated to them by myself on a daily basis.

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P.S I am increasingly looking like this as the rain continues to fall-good luck to you all during this time.

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