Say Goodbye To Standing Water With Apex Soil Solutions

Say goodbye to standing water with Apex Soil Solutions: There is always a conflict of interest when it comes to golf. Course Managers like to get as much air under their greens as possible, but golfers detest the disruption it causes to the surface. Apex Soil Solutions have been working in the industry to demonstrate the revolutionary Vogt GeoInjector. Here’s how they are changing the future of soil management.

How can you ensure greens are well aerated without the Course Manager and his team facing the wrath of the club golfer?
The Vogt GeoInjector system offers minimal disruption to the playing surface. In most cases the green is brought straight back into play, keeping everyone happy. An “average” size green of approximately 300 m2 takes us as little as five hours to complete. Decompaction without disruption. Aeration without aggravation!

What is the process and how do you stop standing water?
The process is completed in one motion with just a single probe. We penetrate the soil beyond the root size to a depth of one metre. We inject 100psi of high pressured, compressed air into the ground. While the probe is inserted into the ground, a natural underground void is created and then back filled with Terramol to the surface, creating a permanent drainage soakaway.

What depths can you reach and how fine are your tines?
The diameter of our injection probe is 25mm and can go to a depth of one metre.

Recovery times will vary depending upon time of year, weather conditions, and make-up of the soil profile but how long are the recovery times – thinking about those club golfers?
Once the process has been completed the green is ready to be played on immediately.

The equipment is equally adept at handling tree roots as it is aerating golf greens. Can you explain how your piece of kit works to achieve success in both areas?
The process is very similar. We fill the cavities with organic fertilisers, such as enriched Biochar to improve tree performance and stimulate root growth.

In an ideal world when is the best time of year to carry out a programme of aeration?
The GeoInjector can be used at anytime of the year but works best when there is moisture in the ground. We would not advise injecting in frosty conditions. The process can easily be incorporated into a Course Manager’s maintenance schedule between autumn and spring.

Do you have any advice for Course Managers in dealing with the membership prior, during and post an aeration programme?
The GeoInjector offers a service that is quicker than many others and offers minimal disruption to the green and play. The technique is innovative and from our experience most members that have been briefed on the process, welcome the programme, as it does not require a re treatment. The long-term benefits far out weigh the small period of time the green is out of play.

Apex is a new name to the industry. Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Apex Soil Solutions is the sister company to Apex Tree Surgeons, a well-respected company which has been operating since 2002. With a varied client list including tree consultancies, golf courses, and councils we noticed an increasing demand to source alternative methods to improve trees in decline. We partnered with German company Vogt, who manufacture the GeoInjector to offer the solution to the rest of the UK.

There are some well established names within the aeration sector and in golf particularly, customers do have brand loyalty, what techniques do you employ to ensure that potential customers are aware of what you offer?
Although there are a multitude of companies that offer soil management solutions, we don’t just scratch the surface, the solutions are found deeper than that. Our product injects deeper into the problem area, breaking through grounds that have previously not been reached. This access allows us to combat problem areas more successfully, which have seen exceptional results.

What is it about Apex and the equipment that you manufacturer that means a potential customer should include you in their list of options?
The versatility of the product provides a solution to many issues where part solutions have been made previously, or where processes were lengthy, caused disruption, and were not completely reliable. We are extremely passionate about the product and the positive impacts it will have on professionals within the industry.

What are your aspirations for the company over the next five years?
We are keen to market our products throughout the Country and work within all industries that will benefit from this application. Apex Soil Solutions aims to leave all of our clients with 100% satisfaction of our products and services. We believe we can successfully support Course Managers.

Where can people see the equipment if they are interested?
We will be exhibiting at BTME in Harrogate at the end of this month. Our full range of injection equipment will be on display and our expert staff will be able to answer your questions.

We will be holding a demonstration day in the upcoming months to showcase the equipment and allow people the opportunity to see the equipment in action. If you are interest please do not hesitate to email us or visit us at the BIGGA event.

Six Nations: How the grounds staff are preparing

Six Nations: How the grounds staff are preparing

For many sports fans it is the most exciting time of the year. The NatWest Six Nations is a celebration of sport and while non-rugby fans can wonder at what on earth is going on – particularly at scrum time – for those in the know each inch over the gain line, or steal from a line-out is celebrated like the winning goal in the round ball game. The six stadiums used are some of the finest in all sport and the pitches, which take some of the greatest hammerings around, are more often than not immaculate.
Turf Matters has spoken to the six people responsible for creating those surfaces.


Name: Jim Dawson

Role: Head Groundsman

Composition of Pitch: Desso GrassMaster

When was it laid? Spring/Summer 2014

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations?

Over-seeding, utilising pitch lights and plenty of rest… fingers crossed!

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

Desso grassmaster has been a game-changer, changing all of our maintenance schedule and increasing pitch usage.

What keeps you awake at night?

Uncontrollable weather the night before a big match!

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?

We have a bigger pitch team allowing use to undertake more detailed work both on the international pitch and training pitches. As mentioned before, the Desso has meant major changes to our maintenance and lots of learning!

What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

Fully automated machine to do divoting.

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship?

2017: Winning all three home games.

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

Scottish passion, the fans and hopefully beating England!

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?

Have a great series and enjoy the atmosphere!



Name: Keith Kent

Role: RFU Head Groundsman

Composition of Pitch: Desso GrassMaster

When was it laid? Summer 2012

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations:

Depending on what the weather is doing we will cut the pitch at least once every day. Aeration is carried out to keep the top surface open in case of any heavy rain at that time of the year. The lighting rigs will be out on the pitch.

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

The Desso GrassmMaster pitch has changed our lives! It’s the best hybrid pitch system in the world in my humble opinion. In all of my career I have never known a pitch that can withstand so much usage.

What keeps you awake at night?

The removable paint used for logos!

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?

The new pitch five years ago has changed my job for the better in so many ways. We host more events but it also allows me to do my second favourite job which is visiting community rugby clubs up and down the whole of England, offering advice and hopefully help to other groundsmen out there.

What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

A magic wand that would make the grass grow in the winter like it does in the summer. And a grass seed that grows in the dark and the cold!

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship?

It’s hard to pick a specific game, but perhaps France in 2015 here at Twickenham. It was a fantastic game with 12 tries in total (the final score was 55-35 to England).

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

The whole event is something so special. The atmosphere at all of the games is amazing.

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?

I wish them all a very successful tournament with good weather, great pitches and the hand of friendship to them all.



Name: Valeriano Bernardini

Role: Agronomist for CONI Servizi spa, consultant for FIGC and FIR

Composition of Pitch: Ryegrass + Bermudagrass (from November to April only as root system)

When was it laid? End of July, 2017

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations?

Routine work and overseeding.

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

Growing lights.

What keeps you awake at night?

Low turf density

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?

Worry and preoccupation.

What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

Possibility to easily adapt the microclimate for optimal growth of the turf.

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship?

Italy v France 2012.

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

No free seat in the stadium.

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?




Name: Lee Evans

Role: Head Groundsman

Composition of Pitch: Desso GrassMaster

When was it laid? September 2017

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations?

We had a boxing event on the pitch prior to the Autumn Series. This decimated the surface, so we have had to carry out a thorough renovation immediately after the Autumn Series.

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

Lighting Rigs/Technology – Grass cannot survive in our stadium without supplementary lighting.

What keeps you awake at night?

Some of the events our Venue Sales Manager, tries to shoehorn into our schedule!

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?

I have been Head Groundsman at the stadium for 14 years – the job is unrecognisable to what it was then. A portable palletised pitch with grass that used to start dying back after six weeks in the stadium – to a fantastic Desso Grassmaster stabilised surface with supplementary lighting.

What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

A full pitch lighting system that somehow is suspended above the pitch, no wheels and no obstacles, a pipe dream alas!

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship?

I have been fortunate to witness three grand slam triumphs in our stadium. They were all very special.

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

The atmosphere in the city is something special. As a teenager I used to go to Cardiff to watch the rugby (in a pub, couldn’t get tickets). 250,00 people descend on Cardiff on a six nations rugby match.

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?

Keep up the good work!



Name: Anthony Stones

Role: Grounds Manager Stadefrance ITURF management

Composition of Pitch: Desso GrassMaster

When was it laid? December 2015 and Desso was installed January 2016

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations?

We will have nine lighting rigs on the pitch as the stadium has no sun at this time of year. Depending on the weather we may have the undersoil heating on. Regular mowing three times per week. Two liquid fertiliser applications will be made and one granulated fertiliser application will done between the two matches that we have this year.

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

I have a couple of things the seegrow lighting rigs have been a massive help and the air2g2. I am also now looking at fans to help with air flow.

What keeps you awake at night?

Weather. You never stop looking at the weather.

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?

Learning a new language since I moved out to France. The main thing to remember is that it’s a team effort and not just the headman that makes a great pitch.

What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

Not sure on this one. I have lots of ideas.

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship? England winning the tournament in my first year at Stadefrance.

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

Atmosphere – the rugby crowds are great.

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?

Good luck guys and may the weather be kind to us all.



Name: Majella Smyth

Role: Head Groundsman

Composition of Pitch:

A Desso GrassMaster Hybrid

When was it laid? It was constructed 2013

What work will you be doing between Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations?

Mininimal renovation has been done to the pitch.

What development or innovation has had the biggest impact on your work in the last five years?

Desso Grass Master Hybrid/SGL Grow Lights.

What keeps you awake at night?

Weather conditions.

How has your job changed since you took over as Head Groundsman?


What piece of equipment, yet to be invented, would make your life so much easier?

Lighting systems that would leave no impact on the playing surface.

What is your favourite memory for a previous Six Nations Championship?

Ronan O Gara drop goal 2009.

What is the best thing about a Six Nations Rugby match in your city?

The buzz the excitement and the impacted of visiting supporters.

What would you like to say to your fellow Six Nations Head Groundsmen?

It’s a calling, not a job, plus your pitch is now for international scrutiny when it goes live.

The World’s Best

The World’s Best: Laurence Gale goes back to university to discover what has made Loughborough the world’s best university for sport

Loughborough has been named the best sporting university in the world in the global QS higher education league table. It is actually the first time the annual QS World University Rankings by subject have included a list of the world’s best places to study sports-related subjects and Loughborough ranked joint-first with the University of Sydney, Australia.

This is a fantastic testament but fully justified by all the hard work done by both staff and graduates over the last 60 years. The ethos of the university brings together exceptional athletes, facilities, coaching and research expertise with extensive partnerships with major sporting organisations, such as Sport England, RFU, ECB to name a few.


Loughborough won the title in recognition of its unparalleled role in the triumph of the British Olympic and Paralympic teams at Rio 2016.

Over 80 students, graduates and Loughborough-linked athletes travelled to Rio to participate in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the Olympic competition they secured 12 medals, including five golds, and if Loughborough University was a country they would have finished 17th on the medal table. Similarly during the Paralympic competition Loughborough-linked athletes secured a further 22 medals, signifying that Loughborough would have finished 10th in the Paralympics medal table if they were a nation.

With a total of plus 15,000 students on campus, coupled with around 400 performance student athletes, the university is a busy place to be during term times.

The World’s BestA total of 71% of students at Loughborough University regularly participate in sport at least once a week – Sport England Higher Education Sport Participation and satisfaction Survey for 2015/16.

From alumni to collaborative partners, and organisations that use campus as their HQ, Loughborough University is associated with a number of household names.

Some of the most celebrated names in sport have studied at Loughborough including Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sir Clive Woodward.

Loughborough University is home to the country’s largest concentration of world-class facilities across a wide range of sports, they include an indoor athletics centre and outdoor stadium, sports halls and all-weather pitches, a 50-metre swimming pool, squash, badminton and netball courts, an indoor tennis centre and outdoor courts, and state of the art fitness centres.

The grounds and gardens are maintained by the university’s own in-house grounds maintenance team consisting of 12 full time groundsmen and  20 full time gardeners of which two are fully trained  arborists. These teams are supervised by Managers William Relf (25 years’ service) who oversees all the sports facilities while Karen Setchell (32 years’ service) manages the gardening teams.

Will and Karen took over the running of the department in 2016 when the previous Estates Manager Mark Freeman retired.

The sports grounds team are split into three teams of four, one solely looking after all the Cricket facilities on campus, whereas the other two teams are split by geographical areas and cover a multitude of sports facilities.

The gardening team consists of five working teams, each with their own areas to manage and maintain. The Arborist team (one man and one woman) maintains all mature trees, two heritage woodlands and plantations on the site.

As for natural grass pitches the university provides thirteen senior natural grass pitches – six football, four rugby, one American football and one lacrosse. The pitches are renovated and topdressed every year using compatible sand dressings, applying between 60 and 100 tonnes per pitch.

Loughborough is also the home of the ECB National Cricket Academy and boasts some of the best cricket practice and playing facilities in the world.

The facilities include: Two natural grass cricket squares and outfields, sixteen outdoor cricket natural grass net areas (on Ongar clay), eleven artificial wickets (five outdoor and six indoor) Complete full size indoor net areas with full bowlers run up and wicket keeper area.

The university also provides some of the finest indoor and outdoor athletics facilities in the country. This includes the indoor High Performance Athletics Centre (HIPAC) enabling athletes to train and perform in the best environment available.

A new dedicated Athletics throwing arena is currently under construction and will be ready in the new year.

Tennis is exceptionally well catered for with 17 artificial courts of which, three are overhead irrigated American Fast Dry outdoor clay courts.  Three outdoor acrylic courts, Four indoor acrylic courts, four Plexipave indoor acrylic courts, plus two tarmac courts. The World’s Best

The university also has several full size artificial pitches on campus, all having different playing characteristics and maintenance requirements.

In the past many artificial surfaces were sold on the back of maintenance free advertising. This is just not the case at Loughborough. Will and his team spends nearly as much time on their artificial surfaces as they do on natural surfaces. The university has spent a lot of money investing in specialist brushing and vacuum machinery to keep these surfaces clean.

As for the tennis courts these are brushed daily while the American fast dry courts are again brushed daily, the frequency being dependent on use. This will usually be twice a day when busy. Generally, they are dragmatted with a rubber dragmat across the line of play, followed by another with a brush in the line of play.

They are then watered, using the pop up automatic irrigation system, to damp down the clay ready for play. It usually takes about an hour and half for one man to complete all the daily work on the three clay courts.

The courts also require topdressing twice a year, regular supplementary dressings throughout the season to maintain levels and a regular rolling programme.

A recent visit enabled me to meet up with Will and walk around the campus to see some of the latest industry developments going on. Will was keen to show me the new reinforced cricket pitch trials, where a number of his existing Onga and Boughton loam pitches and net areas have been sown with some artificial fibres simulating a SIS Grass/Desso style hybrid pitch system.

The results have been amazing with a dramatic reduction in wear and foothole damage, while ball bounce and turn has not been adversely affected.  Two colours of yarn have been tried, a green one and a brown one to see which one is ascetically pleasing to coaches and players.  It will be interesting to see how these pitches respond and recover from their end of season renovations. Will also said, that many of the players had not even noticed these fibres.

We then went on to see another ECB backed trial, that began last June, which saw three drop-in pitches installed into the universities cricket square.

Each pitch is contained in three steel trays, the object of the project is to be able to transport and use the pitch in a large capacity stadium, thus having the ability to play a cricket match at a different venue. Early signs are good, the 200mm deep trays are performing well. It is now a case of progressing to the next stage. Transporting and installing the pitches at a national stadium, and then play an international match on them?

Will was then keen for me to see the new throwing arena being built, that will house an outdoor covered throwing facility to accommodate javelin, discus and hammer athletes. This purpose built training centre will enable athletes to train all year round. The World’s Best

Just driving around the campus, made me realise how big and busy this place is, wherever you looked, there was a different sport activity going on.

One of the busiest times for Will and his staff is during late spring, when they have to change over from a winter sporting calendar into the summer feast of sports. This work also includes having to undertake spring renovations on some of the pitches.

Renovations are carried out on a rotational/need basis, and generally involves a programme of work that involves scarifying, aeration, topdressing and overseeding with some pitches getting a few weeks rest and recuperation.

Having a large fleet of machinery helps enormously, the ability to get around the campus quickly is paramount, all the teams are given a John Deere Gator to help transport themselves, machinery, tools and materials. Will also has a modern cutting fleet of ride on mowers to help cut the grass efficiently. A laser guided Kombi line marking system also saves time when marking pitches on a weekly basis.

The university have also invested in their own sprayers and aeration equipment to ensure they are able to carry out this work promptly and when they choose too, instead of waiting on contractor time frames.

As ever, Loughborough is definitely up there with the best Universities when it comes to managing and maintaining its estate, however, with so many top sports performers based at Loughborough expectations will always be high and the main driver for the grounds team to deliver top class sport facilities.

Inside the Webb

Inside the Webb: Scott MacCallum catches up with Geoff Webb, the IOG’s Chief Executive and the man who steered Saltex to its new Birmingham home.

With two successful editions of the new NEC Birmingham-based Saltex under his belt you would think that Geoff Webb would be relaxed heading into the third version of the new Saltex. Not a bit of it.

“No, the short answer is no.” Is Geoff’s response to the assumption that there must be less stress now than there was in the lead up two years ago.

“Knowing that the success or failure of the show rests heavily on your shoulders and that the responsibility lies with me means that I’d love the answer to be yes. But it is no.”

Inside the Webb

It is that sort of honesty and commitment to ensuring that each Show is an upgrade on the one before which means that Saltex is in very good hands.

The decision to move from its long-standing home at Royal Windsor Racecourse at the beginning of September each year to the NEC in Birmingham at the beginning of November, was not one taken lightly by the IOG Board but they also took the decision backed by evidence of a downturn in attendance at Windsor and an underlying feeling that perhaps the Show had run its course in that little corner of Berkshire.

“I do think that the move (to NEC Birmingham) has proven to be a wise decision and I also think that it has elevated the grounds care sector and given us a Show that people seem to like.

“It is in the middle of the country with good transport links, while the new date seems to have fitted in much better with visitors’ schedules. It must also be recognised that we are never going to keep everyone happy but I do think that the endorsement has been the size of the exhibition itself which has grown year on year and visitors are coming back.”

Outside of expansion in exhibitor and visitor numbers, identifying the success of a Show can be very much a subjective thing but, prior to moving success criteria were identified. Judging by the success of the first two editions most of those boxes must surely have been ticked?

“Very much so. In fact, we are ahead of expectation of where we are to be honest. But the key thing is never to be complacent. We work on the basis that we are driven by improvement so at the end of every Show we go through and analysis everything. We look at visitor returns, we look at exhibitor returns, we pick up on issues and try to find a way to improve on them. That’s the responsibility we have got.”

And it seems to be an effective strategy with the 2017 Saltex going to break through the 300 exhibitor barrier which represents a year on year improvement while we are anticipating something like a 15% growth in visitor numbers as well.”

So what other elements go towards a successful Show?

“It’s a whole host of things. I think it’s the feel of the Show. The judge and jury on whether we’ve got it right or wrong is the general public and their reaction, thanks to social media, can be pretty much immediate.

“The first thing for us, prior to moving to Birmingham, was to manage successfully the transformation of the Show, which, let’s not forget, had been outdoors for 33 years in a row. There were a number of doubters, while a lot of other people stayed on the fence and more can along to the Show out of curiosity in year one, less so in year two.”

With those doubters having to reappraise their views the new look Saltex is offering much on many fronts.

“We’ve added value with attractions and features not least the wealth of products and information you will see and pick up at the event. We’ve also got the Industry Awards which sold out last year and look like being a complete sell out before the event this year. That’s 800 people and an event of which we are immense proud.”

Having spent a great deal of time reviewing feedback for all the Saltex stakeholders what tweaks have been carried out to improve the Show experience?

“Our team manages the transition of people going to the event and we have ring fenced the car park charges so that’s not going to rise, which is happening at other Shows. We’ve also got that discounted for IOG members. We’ve also discounted ground travel costs to get to the NEC and if you go to the Virgin website. We are also working with the NEC about improving the catering and refreshment facilities,” explained Geoff.

“Those are the logistical aspects to the Show but there are other areas within who learn by experience and being at the event. For example if the first year every theatre was outdoor but one of the issues we had was noise – either presenting of listening. So for the second year we sound proofed, and closed off the rooms but then we got feedback that it took away some of the atmosphere. So this year we are opening the theatres up again but we’ve got wireless headphones which we will give to all the delegates so that they will be able to hear the speaker. People will turn up put on the headphones and listen to the presentation while the exhibition is going off around them.”

That’s a prime example of looking at something which was perceived to be a downside and finding a solution.

“We are also having our own Show TV channel for the first time as well and will be carrying out pnm the spot interviews. It will also be the second year of the College Cup which proved to be such a hit last year and we have more colleges involved this year. Added to that, and again for the first time, we have an Advice Clinic for those interested in career development which will be managed by Frank Newberry.”

One of the main selling points for the new location for Saltex was the opportunities it created to open the doors to many more people to get to the Show.

“A really good example of this is Paul Burgess who, everyone knows is at Real Madrid and last year he came to me and said ‘This is great, Geoff. I’ve flown in from Madrid on a direct flight, got off the plane and walked to my hotel within 10 minutes and five minutes after that I was in the Show.’

“We had representatives from 43 countries last year. Before that it was predominately a UK-based Show. I do believe that Saltex is probably the largest sports turf ground management Show anywhere in the world.”

Hearing what Saltex 2017 has in store for us I don’t know about you but I think Geoff is being a little too harsh on himself if he feels as stressed now as he did two years ago before the first NEC Birmingham-based Saltex.

I’m not telling you to sit back and relax but just give yourself a bit of credit for two very successful Shows and the knowledge that Show Three looks well set to continue a very positive trend for Saltex.

Whatever The Customer Wants

Whatever the Customer Wants: That legendary American industrialist, Henry Ford, who brought automotive transportation to the masses, was famous for many things, among them one of the best known quotes of the 20th century.

The Model T Ford was the car which gave the American public the ability to travel and Henry’s quote was: “A customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

Whatever The Customer Wants

A Dutch industrialist from the 21st century, Leo van Loen, Managing Director Trilo, also has a quote: “A customer can have anything he wants.”

As simple as that.

Leo has introduced a new production strategy at the small but progressive, Trilo plant which has revolutionised the way in which the company operates which now offers a mind-numbing number of opportunities to its customers.

A customer can, indeed, have anything her or she wishes and, while choice can sometimes bring a myriad of headaches, in this instance it couldn’t be simpler.

The on-line configurator enables customers to go on line and create the exact machine they need, following a path through the options and preventing anything emerging from the end process which is not workable, or the most cost effective way in which to fulfil the task required.

With support, if required, from, in the UK, Support Managers Jon Proffit and Jeremy Vincent, the process could not be more simple.

“Ah”, I hear from those more used to the workings of the manufacturing sector, “but how long will you have to wait for your bespoke piece of equipment?”

Well, that’s the great thing. A computerised tracking system means that every phone call, from the initial tentative enquiry, through to “Yup, we’ve had a meeting and decided to order.” Is tracked and a percentage of the chances of the order coming through given from 10% through to 90% – there can always be a slip between cup and lip! – so preparations can be made for that order’s completion in the shortest possible time.

A one million euro restructuring of the plant is currently underway, and due to be completed by March. This will bring added benefits to and see increases in efficiency and bring the available working man hours up from 50,000 per annum to 60,000 per annum thus reducing lead times, for a new, built-to-spec machine, to just three weeks.

It has meant that Trilo no longer need to hold huge amounts of stock as, because every order or potential order, is on the system, they only hold, or produce, what they need to meet those orders.

Whatever The Customer Wants

This has also been made possible by the radical, and some may have said risky, decision made by Commercial Director, Peter van Mispelaar, to require payment in advance for the machines.

The rationale being that the machine has been built to a specification which is fit for a particular customer and unlikely to be perfect for another customer and therefore not as saleable. That new approach has been embraced by customers and meant that Trilo now doesn’t suffer from the cash flow issues which can impact upon so many business as they await payment to cover costs already incurred.

To the machines themselves. Well, they’re pretty good too. Trilo specialises in vacuum brushes and blowers which are just as at home in the urban roads and pavements of the city as the wide open and wooded parks and golf course.

The company was launched by Leo’s father and two uncles – hence Tri Lo – and Leo grew up working in the, at the time much smaller plant. With his future apparently mapped out he went to university to learn the business skills which would complement the engineering  capabilities provided by the rest of the family, including his own brother.

Just as he emerged from university armed with the skills to take Trilo to the next level the company was sold and rather than carry on as one of the family dynasty Leo continued to work for Trilo under the new ownership.

Ultimately Leo took the heart-breaking decision to leave the company which had been a part of his life for such a long time.

“When I closed the door behind me for the very last time I thought that was it. I would never be back,” explained Leo, as he hosted a group of UK-based trade press, recently.

However, some of the reasons that Leo felt uncomfortable working under the new management came to a head and Trilo went bust.

It was at that point that Leo and Peter put together a business proposition which saw them return to Trilo as the new owners and since then the company has not looked back.

Leo’s business acumen, coupled with his intense devotion to a company which is literally in his blood, it is making huge strides and its innovative manufacturing and sophisticated on-line systems are pointing to a very bright future for the company.

So while Leo may still be in Henry Ford’s shadow when it comes to coming up with memorable quotes, he is well ahead of the great man when it comes to giving the customer what he or she wants.

Laurence Gale Makes A Return Visit To The STRI

Research at its Best: Laurence Gale popped up to Yorkshire to make a return visit to the STRI

It has been a few years since I last visited the STRI trials grounds, so it was pleasing and very rewarding to have the opportunity to attend one of the recent STRI Research open days last week and catch up with many of the world’s leading Agronomists and Sport Turf Professionals who work and help deliver a wide range of high profile sport surfaces. Laurence Gale Makes A Return Visit To The STRI

The STRI Group incorporates the following global businesses; STRI UK, STRI Australia, STRI China, SportsTurf Consultants (Melbourne), Aspire Sports Turf (Qatar), Landsafe International and SWD Systems.

Their specialist consultants provide quality, bespoke and cost ffective solutions for the design, construction and management of sports surfaces all around the world.

The STRI have successfully masterminded the installation of pitches used for the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships and Olympic Games along with working with a varied list of clients that include The R&A, Wimbledon Championships, Sport England and the RFU.

In addition, The STRI manages multiple research projects and product trials each year, designed specifically to suit each individual sports surface.

The aim of the day was to invite a wide audience of Sports Turf Professionals to see some of the latest trials being undertaken at their trial grounds in Bingley.

Laurence Gale Makes A Return Visit To The STRI

The STRI works with a number of companies each year on Research & Development (R&D) projects for the sports turf industry and this year invited a selection of these companies to support this event

Taking part this year were Bayer, Farmura an Aquatrols Company, ICL, Sherriff Amenity, Stadia Pitch and Syngenta. With over 150 attendees, the event was spilt into seven work stations, enabling small groups to hear about the specific trials that where being undertaken.

Station A, gave us a glimpse into the future of pallatised stadium pitches, there have been a number of these systems around for many years, however, they were often prone to damage when being moved and quite a logistic problem time wise, taking several days to move in and out of the stadiums.

The STRI have been working very closely with STADIAPITCH for a number of years, looking at ways of developing a better pallatised system with the aim to turn non-match days into potential revenue generating events. This has only been made possible by designing and extensively researching key technologies to ensure a pitch can be moved and stored in under ten hours and when brought back into the stadium it is ready for play very quickly.

Station B was showing us a set of Bayer Cropscience trials with Dr Colin Mumford explaining the differences between a programmed preventative approach to disease control and a conventional approach, which often tends to rely on curative or early curative action.

Laurence Gale Makes A Return Visit To The STRI

Station C Demonstrated the versatility and innovation of Drone technologies now being embraced by the STRI with Sophie Vukelic their ecological consultant talking about the services they can offer clients in terms of course design, management and maintenance.

Station D Was led by ICL s Henry Bechelet Turf and Landscape – Technical Sales Manager UK & Ireland as always Henry delivered a passion presentation of the results of the nutrition trial undergoing at Bingley.

Station E saw Syngenta’s Technical Manager, Marcela Munoz, give an interesting insight to their seed trials being undertaken at Bingley.

Every seed counts when it comes to restoring playing surface quality on golf courses or getting stadium pitches established and stable for the new season. Typically there are now greater expectations for turf managers to achieve excellent turf surfaces, with shorter intervals in which to achieve it.

Station F showed Sherriff Amenities trial on a targeted approach to Disease control.

The objective of the Sherriff Amenity trial is to investigate the efficacy of using carefully selected non- fungicidal products; alone and in combination with Instrata Elite against the development of anthracnose disease.

The two non-fungicidal products where E2 Pro PhosRite and E-Gypsum Flo both shown to have beneficial effects on both plants and soil, the trail is to evaluate which combination of these products gives you the best resistance to anthracnose disease.

Station G Farmura and Aquatrols Company trials on the biodegration of organic matter and thatch using a novel enzyme system.

The objective of this two year trial is to determine the effect of the enzyme on thatch accumulation and reduction of soil water repellency alone or when co applied with an Aquatrols soil surfactant under environmental conditions typical of northern Europe.


Providing Consistent Conditions To The Best Show Jumping Arena In The World

Edward Bunn is Facilities Manager at Hickstead, one of the most iconic show jumping arena in the world. Still a family-run business, Ed’s been tending to the showground since 1983. Having watched it grow from strength to strength, in 2011 he managed a £650k complete reconstruction of its international arena.

Providing Consistent Conditions To The Best Show Jumping Arena In The WorldEd says: “We’d admired the renovation work done by STRI at the RDS in Dublin – at the time recognised as one of the best grass arenas in the world. So we turned to them for help with a complete dig out, rebuild and re-drain. We’re susceptible to bad weather here, making for a soft, muddy course after heavy rain,” said Ed.

“That’s why international show jumping tends to be dominated by all-weather surfaces:  such as sand arenas… but we’ve been a grass course since 1960 and we wanted to keep it that way. So our challenge was: How do we provide consistent conditions, so riders get a level playing field even in torrential rain?”

The answer came from the STRI who pointed Ed in the direction of Barenbrug.

“The STRI recommended Barenbrug BAR SPRINT, which we used across the 1.8 hectare site. We’d considered turfing, but the cost was huge and we knew growing from seed would yield better results – if we had time and weather on our side. We did, and within three years, Hickstead got voted the best arena in the world by international riders.”

Last year, Ed looked at Barenbrug’s RPR (Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass) technology to assist with repairs. With only a month between summer events, he wanted to trial the unique cultivars, renowned for the determinate stolons that spread into surrounding areas, quickly filling gaps in sward.

“Last year, I spoke to Sam Horner, at Barenbrug, who agreed to create a one off special mix for us, featuring BAR SPRINT and RPR. Grass seed is a science that continually develops and I was curious to see what it could do for our autumn renovations and repairs.Providing Consistent Conditions To The Best Show Jumping Arena In The World

“We scarified the ring back, taking out 40 to 50%. Then carried out de-compaction work. When you’ve got a tonne of horse taking off and landing on the same spot, you get a lot of holes and compaction.  After that we overseeded with the newly developed BAR SPRINT RPR. Despite a dry autumn, it germinated within three to four days. It’s been our best renovation yet, with dense infilled gaps, and a lush carpet-like effect.  It’ll be interesting to see how it recovers from this summer’s shows. And, over the coming years, as the percentage of RPR builds up.”

The international arena runs just 16 days a year. However, the condition must be maintained to world-class standards, even when time is limited.

“Because of the short period between events, we pre-germinate the grass seed; putting it into hessian sacks and into water. We put it in on the Friday of an event, and it’s ready to use on the Monday.  Then we create a divot mix, using sand and soil, and we just go round and seed the patches.  It’s a real kick start for the grass,” explained Ed.

“We also fertilise a lot, and maintain and mow, but nothing special. BAR SPRINT RPR isn’t a fussy grass seed. It’s not delicate, but it still gives us the perfect look – essential when you’re on television and live-streaming on the internet – and under the scrutiny of millions of viewers. “

Transforming Greenock Morton FC

Scott MacCallum catches up with Mark Farnell, Head Groundsman at Greenock Morton, a man used to making the most of what he has got.

Transforming Greenock Morton FC

There is groundsmanship going on all around us at every time of day, or year, and at so many locations that it would render your Sat Nav hoarse should you set out to visit every one.

Issues are being identified, solutions uncovered with the nett result that more often than not the best result, given the circumstances, and budget, are achieved. The word budget is key here as, outside of a select few venues, money is tight and a groundsman uses his wits to bring about what he or she desires.

One such is Mark Farrell, Head Groundsman at Scottish Championship Club Greenock Morton FC, who, through an excellent working relationship with Richard Haywood, of Campey Turfcare, had his pitch Koroed in exchange for hosting an industry open day.

Mark had work carried out on his pitch which would otherwise have stretched his budget to breaking point while Campey had the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of their Koro machine. In addition 70 groundsmen and women saw first hand how a pitch can be transformed in a remarkably short space of time.

“I know Richard very well and we agreed that it would be great to put on an event in Scotland and I told him that Morton’s pitch would be available to use and that it would also help us as we’re not a big club,” explained Mark.

Greenock Morton came within a successful play-off campaign of reaching the Scottish Premiership last season. Defeat to Dundee United, in the semi-finals, ending what had been a remarkable season of over-achievement for a club which had only been promoted from the 1st Division the previous year. In fact they had identified their ambitions for the year as Championship survival.

However, by Mark’s own admission, home ground Cappielow, just a few hundred metres from the banks of the Clyde, boasts the type of pitch which is not generally seen at the likes of Parkhead, Pittodrie or Ibrox.

“What we have is about as close as you could get to a council pitch in a professional football club – we have a great deal of play and the construction is not what it would be at other clubs,” explained Mark, a Mancunian, who has been Head Man at Cappielow since 2005.

“It is soil based, and that’s not changed since we started playing at the ground in 1874, and we have no drainage or irrigation. All the sand we’ve applied over the years has worked its way into the soil structure.”

But Mark doesn’t get the opportunity to nurse his pitch through a season, as there are three teams which call Cappielow home – Morton’s First Team, Morton’s Reserve Team and the Celtic Development Squad, who travel down from Glasgow to play in Greenock. “If we count only the main matches, last season we had 53 games on the pitch and that doesn’t take into consideration the community and corporate games which are also played. It’s close to 100 games a season.”

With the priority Morton’s first team games it is a real battle against the tide as Mark can often face a game on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

“The main problem is getting onto the pitch to do what we need to do, and do it when the conditions are right. I often find that if we’ve had a game on the Monday it will rain all day Tuesday and then a game on Wednesday and you only have time to prepare for that and not to any time to do anything other than that.”

Transforming Greenock Morton FC

Ah, the rain. Coming from Manchester Mark thought he knew all about rain. He was about to learn more. The west of Scotland does experience more than its fair share of rain with locals joking that webbed feet are an obvious give-away for anyone coming from the area.

“We used to go on about Manchester being wet but it’s wet up here, I can tell you. Last year was one of the best we’ve had recently in terms of rainfall but the year before we had over 1000mm in just four months. In the December we had 388mm alone.”

The Campey day afforded Mark the opportunity to get some work done on the pitch which would not otherwise happen. “I have a lot of poa – a lot of good poa – but the plan was to try and get some more rye grass into the surface so what we did was take off about 70% of the top surface, because the soil here is good, and leave about 30% of the strong plant. We’d never done it before and while it’s not a bad surface here, it’s never going to be one of the top pitches in Scotland as it’s overused, with no drainage and no irrigation.

“What we were looking for is a satisfactory surface for the year which will play ok,” said Mark, who added that Morton’s Manager, Jim Duffy, is happy to leave him to get on with his work and never questions or complains.

“He knows the game, been around a long time and he knows what I’m like with the pitch and leaves me to it.”

With a background in golf Mark, worked at two of the most prestigious clubs in the country, The Oxfordshire, under David Gower, and Loch Lomond, under Ken Seims, as well as at Myerscough College. So he has a strong knowledge of the grass plant and soil structure and he brings that to bear at Cappielow.

“What I’ve learned is that you have to be tough on the plant. You’ve got to be brutal on the plant to make it strong and really scarify heavily. If you just chuck on your feed the plant will just sit on the surface happy as Larry and play poorly.

“You have to leather the plant to make it strong and to work on a soil based pitch because otherwise you won’t get any root stabilisation. It is just down to proper hard core groundsmanship.”

And that’s mechanical, not chemical.

“We don’t spray for anything here. We just use cultural methods and because no two sites are the same what we do here won’t be the same as would happen anywhere else.”

It took Mark around four years to become really familiar with his pitch and understand how it worked.

“When you’ve got a surface that you use from one year to the next you do get to know where the water gathers or the dry areas are, and generally how it operates. I do get organic build up from one year to the next and I’ve got keep on top of that, but I speak with a lot of guys at the bigger clubs and they work completely differently. They are able to feed, cut, feed, cut, feed, strip out and start again so they don’t really need to know their pitch to the same extent.”

If Mark is jealous of those at bigger more glamorous clubs he certainly doesn’t show it and he has embraced his Scottish and Greenock way of life mixing with fans – he is one himself – opposition fans as well as fellow groundsmen and greenkeepers.

However, he did get a taste of life at one of the game’s giants recently when his long time friend, Paul Burgess, invited him over to Madrid to look at his facility at the Bernabeu and take in the El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

“The pressure I’m under is completely different to the pressure Paul is under. They want perfection and Paul has to deliver.”

Mark has been able to introduce one of the game’s newer innovations to Cappielow however, but not quite on the same scale as those in Madrid.

Transforming Greenock Morton FC

“I’ve got a small lighting rig for next year – 12 lamps – and it does the trick. With so many games the goal mouth areas take a pounding so the lighting rig enables me to focus on that and bring them back as much as we can.”

Mark sees the rigs as one of the key tools that have arrived in recently years, along with the DESSO pitch, but it is the synthetic pitch revolution in Scottish football which concerns Mark and their influence on his adopted country’s progress as a football nation.

“Not far off half of the 42 clubs in Scotland are now playing on artificial pitches and that has arisen for financial and not footballing reasons. If it was purely to do with first team football and providing a surface for fans to come and watch their team it would be played on grass. If Scotland continues to fail to qualify for tournaments the number of artificial pitches at our clubs may well be a reason for that. They are not going to help improve talent at a nation level,” explained Mark.

Mark is looking forward to the new season, one in which Morton are looking to build on the success of last season and they will be doing so on a pitch which is as good as can be achieved given the resources at his disposal – and the relationship built between Mark and Richard at Campey’s.

A perfect example of proper hard core groundsmanship.

Day Of The Tetraploid

Day Of The Tetraploid: Wonderful work is being carried out by Top Green which will take sports surfaces to another level. Scott MacCallum dug out his passport to find out more about what is going on.

Day Of The Tetraploid

A message to all turf managers who find themselves battling with a poor quality sward, disease or pest infestation. There is help at hand and it can be found in a little corner of north west France where all your problematic grass issues are being tackled and solutions found. It may take some time but be assured that the work is being done.

Top Green, the seed development arm of Rigby Taylor, are based at Les Alleuds, near Anger, and it is there that test plots containing thousands of cultivar species and varieties are examined, developed and nurtured to identify those most likely to offer salvation to turf managers all over Europe and beyond.

A recent press trip, organised by Rigby Taylor, provided the ideal opportunity for a group of the country’s industry journalists to witness the work that goes on at the Top Green Research facility.

Situated in idyllic rural countryside the Top Green is a highly sophisticated and cutting edge operation, a hint of which comes with the sight of robot mowers silently cutting the grounds around the building.

The surrounding fields contain grass varieties which will undoubtedly be found in the sports pitches and golf courses of the future, but you would do well to track them down. There are 90,000 metre square trial plots at Top Green – 30,000 are planted each year on a three year cycle – and they include every conceivable combination of cultivar species and variety, each one carrying hopes that it will develop into something special.

Brit abroad, Stephen Alderton is Top Green’s Assistant Managing Director and a man who knows these plots inside out.

“We test the plots visually three to four times a year, looking for colour, consistency, disease, drought and shade resistance and in doing so someone will walk 30km,” revealed Stephen.

At various stages seed from well performing plots will be married together to see if weaknesses can be eliminated and strengths built upon but it is a pain staking process fraught with unfulfilled expectations and disappointments.

The French grass breeding fraternity also carries out its own research with companies sharing out their own seed for blind testing on each other’s trial plots, a system which works extremely well.

Day Of The Tetraploid

“You can produce a potential variety which ticks all the boxes we want to find only to discover that we can’t scale it up by producing enough seed to make it commercially viable,” explained Stephen, adding that with 15 years of research and development behind each new variety a fall at the final hurdle can be tough to bear.

Lighting rigs and wear machines are also in evidence at Les Alleuds to ensure that all tested grass experiences the same sorts of issues it would face were it to pass all its exams and graduate as a fully fledged new variety and come up against the studs, spikes, clubs and sticks of modern day sport.

Amid the 50 shades of green (and more) of the grass plots there can also be found a splash of colour with the Euroflor wild flower mixes which have been developed and which prove such an attraction to local authorities and managers of open space, or golf courses, who wish to enhance the overall appearance of their sites.

But for turf professionals everywhere it is the prospect of a new super grass which may allow them to sleep soundly at night and in recent years the development of the tetraploid which sounds like the creation of John Wyndham or something from a Dr Who episode, but is actually one of the most remarkable advances in cultivar performance.

No science fiction here.  This is science fact.

Jayne Leyland, is Rigby Taylor’s Grass Seed & Line Marking Product Manager, and she has mastered the art of explaining the highly technical background to tetraploids in an understandable fashion.

“Ploidy is a reference to the number of complete sets of chromosomes within the nucleus of each plant cell. Each chromosome is made of protein and is naturally occurring in many plant species. It can also be induced in plants through the application of a natural alkaloid plant hormone,” explained Jayne.

Alright, perhaps I overstated the understandability factor but the benefits are there to be seen and Jayne is as good as anyone at explaining the remarkable performance achieved by tetraploids.

Tetraploid perennial ryegrass boasts high energy seed and strong growth in cooler conditions making it ideal for autumn overseeding and repairs while excellent winter wear and re-growth helps keep surfaces in play as the season carries on through winter. The high root mass also delivers greater drought tolerance and stability, while it has also proved to be excellent in shaded conditions.

“Shade and wear trials carried out at Les Alleuds have shown how the latest tetraploid cultivars deliver excellent performance in reduced light levels,” said Jayne.

“Although relatively new to the amenity market, tetraploid mixtures and blends are fast becoming the number one choice for renovation and repaid of natural and hybrid grass surfaces in a host of environments including football, and cricket pitches, racecourses and golf course.”

Patience is a virtue and with a 15 year lead time on a new variety of cultivar it can be found in bucket loads at Top Green, but with the expertise on hand there, together with Rigby Taylor’s ability to bring it to market, those turf professionals waiting for solutions will be rewarded.

Turf Matters would like to thank Stephen and Howard, of Top Green, and Richard and Jayne, of Rigby Taylor, for their generous hospitality and excellent company during the visit.

A Legacy Bearing Fruit

A Legacy Bearing Fruit – Scott MacCallum catches up with Greg Bolton as he works on transforming West Ham’s new stadium back into its original athletics’ arena guise.
A Legacy Bearing Fruit
The word heard most frequently in relation to London’s iconic Olympic stadium was “Legacy”. it was perhaps the key single element in clinching the 2012 Olympics for London. Lord Coe’s impassioned speech highlighted the desire to ensure that the youngsters of the UK would be inspired to put on their plimsols and run, coupled with sustainable plans to leave London with world class sporting arenas and left a lasting impression.

Achieving “Legacy” is something which has tested many of the modern Olympic host cities, some of them to the point of failure. Athens, Beijing and even, the newest Olympic city, Rio, have struggled to find a use for their main athletics stadiums and they have become nothing more than symbols of huge financial burden with no on-going purpose.

London was always going to be different, and when the first starter’s gun “Bang”, or field event throw, is made at this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships, in August, it will be the defining moment in a successful “Legacy” for the London Olympics.

Yes, there have been events held at the Stadium since 2012, not least the annual Anniversary Games and Rugby World Cup matches in 2015, but this will be the first major event to have taken place since the stadium – now known as the London Stadium – became permanent home to West Ham United. It will therefore act as overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the stadium can switch seamlessly between its regular use, as home to the bubble blowing Hammers fans and their team, to that of a world class athletics venue.

It will also mark a successful conclusion to the dilemma which exercised minds from well before the Olympic bid had been won – should London’s Olympic Stadium be built as a bespoke athletic stadium, which would then be converted to a football stadium, or built as a football stadium but initially configured as an athletics venue.

A Legacy Bearing Fruit

Eventually, it was Lord Coe’s desire and promise, to retain an athletic track as the Legacy, which carried sway.
The man charged with ensuring a smooth transition from footballs and goal posts to shot putts and javelins is Greg Bolton, Head Groundsman at the Stadium.

So does the desire to fulfil that legacy occupy the minds of Greg and his colleagues?

“Very much so. We have a duty to make this stadium multi-purpose and multi-functional throughout the year and we are actively making the most of the stadium, extend that legacy and make it a facility which everyone can come and enjoy,” said Greg, as he took time from his hectic schedule to talk with Turf Matters.

As with so many of the magnificent stadiums this country now boasts the need to maximise usage does bring added turf maintenance complications. Greg, part of a five-strong team at the stadium -the newest member recruited from the local area as part of that legacy drive – has split his renovation programme into two to accommodate concerts from Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses as well as a Robbie Williams concert which doesn’t take place until the end of June.

“The window to enable us to do what we need to do is a lot shorter than it would normally be but it is something which we view as a challenge and are tackled head on. We have already stripped off the surface and after Robbie Williams we will take the power rake over it to remove the remaining debris. We will then put on 100 tonnes of top dressing and reseed using germination sheets. As soon as the seed has come through we will be straight on with the machines to get it leaf coated to get it to kick on as quickly as possible,” revealed Greg.

It is fair to say that modern day technological advances and techniques have made possible what would once have given the most sound sleeping of Head Groundsmen nightmares and it does mean that extraordinary things can be achieved.

“As groundsmen in professional sport we now have all the tools at our disposal to do the job. Grow lights and fans to move the air around mean that we can achieve a great deal in a tight window. It is a massive challenge but if we use the technology that we have at our disposal we can make it happen,” said Greg, who is delighted that the stadium’s operating company – London Stadium 185 – are keen to ensure the best possible playing conditions. The 185 is a tribute to the number of medals achieve by Team GB’s athletes during the London Olympics and Paralympics.

A Legacy Bearing Fruit

“They are extremely pro-pitch and very supportive of what we are trying to achieve. It was a major part of the legacy that the stadium be used more widely and we all understand that and embrace that. There are various stakeholders involved with the stadium and it is our job to please all parties.”

So does the turf cope with a complete change in the trauma to which it is subjected?

“We are in a unique situation in that as a grounds team we have been together for just over a year and experienc

ed the Anniversary Games last year for the very first time and witnessed the javelin, discus and the shot putt going into the field of play.

“It creates damage but it was damage which we felt we got back pretty quickly to be fair. We’d been pro-active and had a

lready pre-germinated seed to put down and recovery came through a lot quicker and speeded up the process. We did bring in additional hand tools as well to help although we’ve now invested in some bigger, more robust pieces of equipment to relieve compaction,” said Greg, who works closely with the West Ham Head Groundsman, Dougie Robertson, off whom he regularly bounces ideas. Bruce Elliott, at Crystal Palace is another man Greg, turns to as a sounding board.

The one athletic discipline Greg and the team haven’t yet experienced, however, is the one which is generally regarded to have the biggest damage to turf.

“The only thing we have yet to come across is the hammer, which is probably the most destructive, but we still feel that we are equipped to deal with it.”

In many ways the field events at the IAAF World Athletics Championships will be played out on the highest possible specification turf ever, as the DESSO pitch installed at the beginning of last season for West Ham will still be in place.

“Since 2012 the sport of athletics as evolved significantly and it has moved on from surfaces which were just glorified dart boards to the level we expect for all our major professional sports events today. Last year the DESSO had just been laid and was still naturally a lot softer but after a full season of play it will have bedded in and I don’t expect the impressions made in the surface will be as great as we found them last year.”

A Legacy Bearing Fruit

The major differences outside of the field of play, and the IAAF livery, as opposed to that of the Olympics in 2012, come with the floodlights and the seating.

“In 2012 the floodlights were pitched at a different angle to what they are now while the lower seating is now retractable.”

As per Lord Coe’s vision, the track is permanent, but covered with a membrane and astroturf during the football season to protect it from those football boots. The lower seating is then retracted, widening the arena and revealing the legendary track which provided the stage for those extraordinary achievements by Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, David Rodisha and Usain Bolt.

That seating was perhaps the most innovative of the adaptions which were required to sustain that legacy, and while eye wateringly expensive they do ensure the truly multi-use benefits of the stadium.

Despite being a Home Counties boy Greg didn’t attend the London Olympics and it is something which he does regret.

“I’d have loved to have visited the stadium during the Olympics and seen it in 2012 to see just h9w much it has come on since then,” said Greg, who added that the stream of Guided Tours around the Stadium show just how much the stadium means to the general public, not to mention those Hammers fans.

Being in charge at such an iconic venue is something which means a lot to Greg.

“It is an incredible arena and I’m incredibly proud to be working here and heading up the grounds team,” he said and he is really looking forward to August and those World Championships.

“After an Olympics you can’t get bigger than a World Championships and it is a massive summer for us, as we also have the Anniversary Games and the Para Games as well.”

Although he will have a great many commitments Greg has planned in time to be out on the field of play seeing how his turf reacts first hand and being available to nurse it back to full health.

“I’m very involved and will want to get out there. I just need to keep out of the way of those javelins and hammers!”

It will be a pivotal summer for the London Stadium and by playing host to the World Athletic Championships, the other athletic meetings, as well as those rock and pop stars, it will already have started to create that legacy Lord Coe was so insistent upon.