This is a sneak preview of an e-mail flyer that will be going out all over SE England on Friday, aimed at groundskeepers at football and rugby clubs, parks and local councils.
Now is the time to prepare pitches for the summer season - they will typically need top-dressing, scarifying and re-seeding. If they look like the picture in the flyer, then some verti-draining and perhaps bigger drainage works would be required, too. Sports pitches wear unevenly and special attention will be needed at the goal-mouths, for example.
Note that it's not just natural pitches that need winter maintenance - 3G and hybrid pitches also need looking after, if they are going to survive through their full potential life-span, which could be ten years or more.
Here you can see Sevenoaks Town Chairman Paul Lansdale (centre) and Coach Micky Collins (right) studying a sample of hybrid carpet under the careful supervision of Steve Wilcockson. A picture that summarises our first 3G and hybrid evening quite well!
The evening was a great success, thanks to the gracious hosting and lovely facilities of Sevenoaks Town FC, and the interesting and wide-ranging presentations by our speakers. Paul Lansdale gave an engaging outline of how he found £500,000 for the club from local resources; Karen Woolland of WCTD explained what you need to think of when raising funds in general and especially from public bodies; Steve Wilcockson from Surfacing Standards Limited presented the role of a specialist consultant throughout the decision-making and implementation process; and last but not least, Rob de Heer of Sports Pitch Engineering explained the benefits of various types of hybrid sports pitches (i.e., natural grass reinforced in various ways with artificial fibre).
The club catering was good and warming - just what was needed for a very chilly February evening. (The only slight disappointment for some of us older team members was that the ale was off so we had to be content with lager. Oh well, if that's our worst complaint...!) There was a lot of conversations going on in the wamth of the club-house, but eventually we did feel compelled to brave the great outdoors to have a look at the actual 3G pitch.
On site we saw the 1st XI training under the blazing floodlights on a pristine green pitch. Having had a miserably wet weekend, no doubt causing havoc to natural pitches around the South-East, we couldn't have had a better demonstration of the advantages of synthetic carpets. It was cold but enjoyable and cheerful conversations were held all around the pitch.
The evening was rounded off with a penalty shoot-out, ultimately won by Robert Johnston of Hatko, who received the winner's well-deserved bottle of bubbly!
This is the time of year to be renovating the grass surfaces of parks, in preparation for the new season. Yes, it was snowing yesterday, even in Newenden, but spring is only around the corner!
So here we are working on various parks around Camden, on behalf of our friends at idverde. Russell Square is the first one - the works involve vertidraining, scarifying, top-dressing and over-seeding. It's a big square - it needs 60 tonnes of rootzone. There are ten more parks to do in this round - will keep us busy!
Last spring and early summer, we built a new synthetic pitch for Sevenoaks Town FC. They are very pleased with it - so pleased, in fact, that they renamed their facilities the Bourne Stadium. (Well, there may have been a small sponsorship involved too.) Their First team remains top of the league and they have not lost a single home game on the new pitch - how's that for extra added bonus?
Sevenoaks Town have over 50 different teams so the pitch is in use every day. It is holding up beautifully - although they have to be very vigilant to stop visiting players from bringing inappropriate footwear on to it. Although a fully synthetic pitch like this is not cheap, Sevenoaks' Chairman Paul Lansdale was able to raise the necessary funding in clever ways, partly with grants from the town council and partly with well-constructed loans from members.
So the idea came up - let's bring together some of our team, Paul L and a specialist consultant on raising funds for sports organisations, Karen Woolland from WCTD, and do an open day in the midst of winter, when the advantages of a well-drained synthetic pitch over poor water-logged natural grass are at their most visible. The date was set for 6 February, and we have invited football clubs, councils and schools from the region to come and hear how Sevenoaks got their pitch together, and how we can help others to do the same.
Apart from Bourne Sport staff, we will bring along Steve Wilcockson from Surfacing Standards, specialists in synthetic sports surfaces, and Rob de Heer from Sports Pitch Engineering. The evening will start at 7pm and we will have presentations, catering, general mingling and watch the Sevenoaks teams training on their pitch.
If you are thinking of getting a fully synthetic or hybrid pitch for your club, or school, but wonder how to find the cash to pay for it, this is the event for you. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or ring 01797 252298 and I'll send you an invitation.
There will be a report from the event next week.
It can be a little tricky to see what this picture actually shows, but if you look carefully, you will see the Cutty Sark in the background. Here we are, fixing up the compacted lawns and laying new turf for idverde by the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. It's chilly work in January, but actually, it's quite a good case study of the care needed by hard-worn turf between seasons.
For this project, we first de-compacted the lawns using a vertidrainer with solid tines, to a depth of 8” in two directions. Then we used a Koro Field Top Maker over the surface to remove any existing vegetation. Next, we spread 70/30 rootzone to top dress the lawns and fill any low spots, and finally, laid 5,580 square metres (which is nearly the surface area of a standard football pitch) of Big Roll Grasslands Rysport turf.
Dear old Cutty Sark - one of the very last tea clippers, built in 1869, had a good run until 1922, when the steamship really had taken over, then used for training until 1954, since when she has been laid up at Greenwich. And now she sails the Rysport turf, forever heading North along the meridian.