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Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium

Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium: Last year a Hunter Industries irrigation system, supplied by KAR UK, was installed at the iconic London Stadium. After seeing a number of benefits, Head Groundsman James Williams wanted to extend the Hunter system to other areas of the stadium.

The former Swansea and Liberty Stadium groundsman has certainly made an impression in London since he took the job in 2016. James’ work has been widely praised by his peers, and also by players and managers. By his own admission he is addicted to his profession.

Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium

Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium

“I think every head groundsman has a bit of an obsession with their pitch,” he said. “The lads are always asking why I’m messaging them even when I’m on holiday but I have cameras all around the pitch which I view on my phone and I’m forever spotting things. It’s difficult to switch off.”

James now has even greater control over the pitch when it comes to irrigation – so much so that he can even manage it from his own home or wherever he may be.

“We’ve got probes in the pitch which give me a lot of readings such as moisture, the humidity in the stadium, the temperature and a lot more. Every morning I get an email with a report telling me what the moisture levels are from three different depths. If I see that the moisture has dropped below 10% then I’ll turn the irrigation system on through my phone.”

This advantage has all been made possible thanks to a newly installed Hunter Industries irrigation system. Last year James felt that he was not getting the best out of the previous irrigation system and the pitch wasn’t getting the water it needed. After getting in touch with KAR UK, the UK’s leading wholesaler of irrigation equipment, a new Hunter system was installed. The system included eight of the most technologically advanced commercial rotors on the market – the all-new I-80’s.

Engineered for sports turf, the I-80 is built with a robust, dirt-tolerant gear drive that offers the highest torque output of any rotor in the commercial sphere, and extends a radius range from 11.3 to 29.6 meters. The I-80 features a wide range of highly efficient, dual-trajectory, wind-fighting nozzles for highly efficient performance in a range of applications. It also provides total top serviceability (TTS) via its integrated, surface-mounted snap-ring for no-dig easy maintenance.

Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium

Hunter hits the mark at the London Stadium

“I was instantly impressed with how good they were,” said James. “The service from KAR UK was also excellent and was part of the reason why I decided to go ahead and replace the outfield and pitch surrounds with the new Hunter TTS-885’s with no-bounce covers and turf cups.”

The new Hunter TTS-800 rotors provide maximum uniformity and longevity as they use the same gear drive and nozzles as the I-80’s. The high-torque gear drives are the strongest in the industry, so the challenges of reclaimed water use or poor water quality are mitigated. An extra-large, fast-access flange compartment comfortably accommodates wire connections and other components.

James and his team are now able to control the system both to the pitch and the outfields through the mobile-friendly Centralus irrigation management platform. This provides highly secure, comprehensive cloud-based control and monitoring features to the new ACC2 controller at the stadium. The connectivity allows users to view a controller’s status, change settings, view forecasts, save water, and receive instant notification of important system alarms — all without costly and time-consuming travel and site visits.

It is a technologically advanced system, yet incredibly user friendly – something which James felt was important.

“The one thing that stands out the most for me is that this system is very simple to use and that was essential. I needed something that the whole team could use – not just myself.

“I’m very impressed with the whole system. There is a reason that more and more stadiums are switching over to Hunter.

“The service and support from KAR UK has again been fantastic.”

For more information, please visit www.karuk.com

You can also follow KAR UK on Twitter @KARUK_LTD for much more news, reviews and insightful views.

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Grassroots funding hits £8m

Grassroots funding hits £8m: Grassroots sports clubs and organisations in England have received a total of £8m worth of funding from the Community Emergency Fund, set up to help with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Launched and managed by Sport England, the emergency fund has already secured the futures of more than 2,000 sports clubs and community organisations struggling with the lockdown.

Grassroots funding hits £8m

Grassroots funding hits £8m

The £20m Community Emergency Fund is part of Sport England’s larger £195m package of support set up in response to the current crisis.

Lockdown conditions have had a significant impact on grassroots sports – particularly for those with cash-generating facilities which are no longer able to open their doors.

The areas of most immediate pressure for organisations include the costs of covering rent, insurance, maintenance and utility bills.

The effects of the shutdown are clear – and demand for funding has been unprecedented.

During 2019, Sport England received 4,000 applications across all its funding programmes over the 12 months.

In the month since the launch of the Community Emergency Fund, on 31 March 2020, the organisation has already received more than 6,500 applications.

“This fund is a vital part of ensuring that grassroots organisations who might have cash-flow issues for a variety of reasons survive,” said Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth.

“Whether an organisation needs £300 or £10,000, the Community Emergency Fund is there for those who are in need of support to navigate this difficult period.

“Sport and physical activity’s ability to bring individuals together and to unite communities will be of critical importance to our nation once the restrictions of lockdown begin to be lifted.

One of the organisations to have received help from the emergency fund is the Emerald Centre in Leicester, which received a £10,000 grant.

The centre helps more than 10,000 people take part in sport and physical activity every year and is used seven days a week by people of all ages.

Among activities, the centre is home to eight sports teams.

Tony Cusack, the centre’s manager, said the £10,000 grant was a “lifeline” for the organisation.

“Without this funding, it would have been very difficult to continue to do what we do once this is over,” Cusack said.

“Our reserves are diminishing without our regular income and this grant has been crucial for us as we try and recoup some of the funding we’ve missed out on while being closed.”

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Ian Darler Hits 40 Years

Ian Darler Hits 40 Years: From eating a Sunday roast with Barry Fry in the centre-circle at London Road, to sing-along fishing trips with John Beck and rubbing shoulders with Herve Renard, it would be difficult to find anyone that has experienced the highs and lows of Cambridge United more than Ian Darler.

Having arrived at the Abbey as a fresh-faced 19-year-old in 1979, Darler is now celebrating his 40th anniversary with the club, which has coincided with the release of his book: Life’s A Pitch.

Ian Darler Hits 40 Years

After admitted scepticism – it took a while for him to be convinced that the book deal wasn’t a wind-up – the long-serving stadium manager and head groundsman talked to CambridgeshireLive about his memories, good and bad, of his time at the Abbey Stadium and why he decided now was the right time to put it all down on paper.

While he said the book has made him feel proud of what he’s achieved, and unearth old memories, it has been important for him in another way, as it has helped to heal the physical and psychological scars which plagued him after a serious accident at work in 2013. He has come out the other side now, but the accident left him needing seven surgeries, and started a battle with depression and PTSD which lasted for several years.

“Being able to focus on something totally fresh and go back over your history brought some good times back for me and it was almost like the final part of the therapy,” he said.

“It gave me the opportunity to reflect on what I had been as a youngster, what I had achieved from being an apprentice groundsman and the trials and tribulations of a groundsman.

“Within the book, it’s given me the opportunity to go through the whole aspect of it again, even to the point of being able to tell some of the things that have gone on here, the good times and the bad times, it’s been refreshing.”

The Abbey is, of course, on the same site as it was back in 1979, but Darler said the current pitch is a world away from the one he inherited, which he likened to an “African safari”, with dust patches and divots littering it.

In 2019 you’re more likely to see Christmas trees and hearts cut into it, depending on the time of the year, examples of Darler’s ingenuity which makes him so popular with the fans and managers alike.

Yet despite earning national headlines for his on-field creations, he credited the volunteers and local businesses who provide help for his successes.

“We’ve had three people who have had coronaries in this ground, and all three are alive today,” he added.

“It’s not a fluke, it’s dedication. But it’s not the dedication from me, it’s the dedication of the staff, the stewards and the volunteers.

“I know this year there’s been comments about the stadium being old and untidy, but I think over the last 18 months we’ve raised the Titanic because the whole place has had a refurb and it’s through the volunteers, and all the companies that have chipped in.

“One of the reasons I didn’t go to Coventry when I had the offer in the 80s was because I would have missed the begging, stealing and borrowing. I love blagging.”

Former U’s manager Roy McFarland wrote the forward to the book, with Darler adding he was among the “highest calibre” of manager he has worked with, also believing that, despite criticism towards the end, John Beck was “ahead of the game”. Yet of the 28 managers and head coaches he worked alongside, it was his first, John Docherty, that he remembers most fondly for taking him under his wing when he was the youngest head groundsman in the Football League, creating a pitch for players that would go on to become club legends.

“I’ve described it in the book, but Roy was the best pedigree of manager you could work with in terms of every aspect of the job,” he said.

“Equally, Joe [Dunne] was like that with me, he just didn’t get the break on the park. Colin, in modern day managers, is identical to Roy.

“He has spoken to every single person, whether it be the cleaner, the groundsman, whoever, and made them feel part of the team. That is a unique person, and that’s how Roy was.”

Darler is set to retire in five years time, but admits that it would be hard to give up the job and has every intention of staying on in a part-time capacity and hit the 50-year mark in a job he called his “boyhood dream”.

“I’m already starting to feel disappointed [at the thought of retiring] because that patch of grass out there has been my baby for 40 years,” he added.

“I’ve spent more time with that than my family.

“The whole place has been a lifetime, but it’s the characters as well. It’s just been amazing.”

Life’s A Pitch – published by G2 Entertainment – is out now.

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Toro Hits The Mark At Altcar

Toro Hits The Mark At Altcar: The UK’s premier facility for small arms marksmanship training, Altcar Training Camp in Merseyside, recently invested in a Toro Groundsmaster 7210 and LT-F3000 triple flail mower for their sports and residential grounds maintenance.

With a football and rugby pitch, general-purpose field and residential green areas, having robust and high-performance mowers to tackle a variety of jobs was essential for Altcar Training Camp. After a competitive demonstration process where Toro and multiple other brands were tested, Toro hit the mark and came out on top.

Toro Hits The Mark At Altcar

Mark Byrne, infrastructure resource manager, explains: “Our previous machines were on their way out and so we wanted to get the best possible replacements. That was when we got in touch with Cheshire Turf Machinery and set up a demonstration with several brands.

“We wanted a zero-turn mower again because that suited our needs here perfectly. We were looking for something that would be simple to use and would be a seamless transition from our previous machine. With the triple flail mower, we wanted to get a robust alternative that would be more reliable.”

With the help of Cheshire Turf Machinery a competitive demonstration was organised in order to trial several machines and find the perfect replacements for the camp.

“It became quite clear fairly soon that Toro was winning,” says Mark. “The combination of performance and price was just what we were looking for, and with simple and easy to use operation, it meant we could get straight onto using the new machines when they arrived.”

Having had the machines since September 2018, the GM7210 and the LT-F3000 have proved to be right on target. “They’re both really good machines and doing everything we expect from them.”

And with Toro impressing Mark, future investment is definitely on the cards. “We’ve had Toro before and been impressed and would definitely consider going with Toro again.”

For more information, visit: reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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