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SAGE: The potential is massive

SAGE: The potential is massive: A huge thank you to everyone who attended and supported the inaugural year of The Sports & Grounds Expo (SAGE), at The Three Counties Showground, 27 – 29 July.

The challenges of the last year have had a huge impact on events, and the support and positive feedback from our visitors, speakers and exhibitors is greatly appreciated, and vital to the future of the event. The foundations for SAGE have now been set and have provided a strong starting point, from which we can build from.

SAGE: The potential is massiveSAGE: The potential is massive

The central location of The Three Counties Showground, as well as the vast amount of space on offer, provides the perfect venue.

The huge amount of positive feedback received, from both visitors and exhibitors, has cemented SAGE 2022 in the calendar for next summer.

Over 75% of our exhibitors have said they would definitely return to exhibit, with zero saying they would not, which is a fantastic testament of support from our founding exhibitors. From the visitor surveys over 85% of visitors are looking forward to returning in 2022. The team are reviewing carefully the feedback from the exhibitors and visitors, to guarantee that we are actively incorporating the needs of the industry into SAGE 2022.

The potential of what SAGE is capable of is huge for the industry and we look forward to making 2022 bigger and better!

For more information, contact the team today by email: team@sportsandgrounds.co.uk or visit the website: www.sportsandgrounds.co.uk.

Dates for 2022 will be released over the coming weeks on the website and across all of our social media platforms.

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Grass is greener on the other side

Grass is greener on the other side: Hillside Golf Club on ‘England’s Golf Coast’ in Southport knows only too well the importance of its biggest asset: its greens. As host to many tournaments including the British Masters, they are what’s most judged and why the club opted for Toro’s Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 all-electric riding greensmower to lead its frontline mowing fleet.

The R&A, which together with the USGA governs the sport of golf worldwide, provides best practice guidelines on all aspects of golf course management to help grow golf in an environmentally sustainable way. And this was one of the facts that contributed to Chris Ball’s decision-making process when choosing the club’s new greens mower this year.

Grass is greener on the other side

Grass is greener on the other side

Chris, the club’s links manager has been in the industry for 31 years and has been associated with Hillside Golf Club for over 20 of those years; he says: “The R&A is rightly pushing clubs to make the correct environmentally-friendly choices wherever possible so when we had a hydraulic leak earlier this season, the club asked can this truly be avoided in the future? The answer was yes and that led us to consider the all-electric option.”

Of course, this option has been provided to the industry by Toro in the form of the Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 and despite reservations Chris couldn’t be more glad he decided to look at the all-electric mower.

“My reservations were based on this being a bit of an unknown quantity in terms of costs,” says Chris. “But Steve Halley from Cheshire Turf Machinery who sold us the machine and our club secretary/manager Chris Williams did some number crunching and presented the costs over three years and it alleviated my concerns on that count. What the process concluded was that you can’t base your decision on the purchase price, total cost of ownership plays a huge part here.”

So, what of the machine and it’s performance? Chris says the clubs along the coast don’t have much Toro equipment, but what they all have is the impressive technology of the ever-popular ProCore aerators and the Sidewinder machines for mowing round bunker tops and fairway gathers, but could the performance of the electric greensmower be the next piece of Toro they all have?

Chris says: “I can’t find fault with it. And the more we use it the more positives we find. But first and foremost is the members’ feedback. They love the idea of the all-electric mower on their course, and all take great interest in it when it’s out on the course. Quality of cut is excellent and specifically highlighted by many golfers was that the ball roll appears far superior, even though we are now mowing at 5mm through the summer which is higher than previous years. It’s great for the club as they are doing all they can to see the return of the desirable grass species on the greens and at this height its very achievable.

“It’s incredibly user-friendly and definitely my preferred option for mowing the greens on a daily basis. The quietness and not needing ear defenders means you notice everything the mower is doing; it provides a totally different mowing experience and of course you can work quietly around the golfers.

“Maintenance is really easy – there are no grease points and the bearings are sealed for life, there’s nothing for us to do – apart from keeping the cutting units sharp by regular grinding. There is a small service at 800 hours and even then, that’s just topping up the coolant. And in terms of productivity, it can easily do all our 20 greens before we charge overnight but during our first weeks with the mower, we thought we’d see how far the mower could go and we managed to get 39 greens out of it before charging, which in a linear straight line is some distance for a mower.”

Chris confirms: “It seems to be the way of the future and I genuinely believe it won’t be long before the switch over to electric is more commonplace.”

A true Championship Links course and host to many events in the past, Hillside continues to invest in its primary asset and has recently completed two major phases of course improvements. Chris concludes: “The time was right to invite Toro to bring their electric technology to the course. I feel it matches our ambitions as a club going forward, giving us that extra something on the greens.”

Steve Halley, managing director at Cheshire Turf Machinery, comments: “Jeff Jago from our sales team has worked hard to make the breakthrough at Hillside where Chris and his team have really bought in the many features and benefits of the eTriFlex. Their enthusiasm for the machine has been really satisfying and is sure to be noted by other potential users.”

To talk to someone about Toro’s electric and hybrid technology and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.

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The Dennis E-Series is here

The Dennis E-Series is here: A number of industry press recently visited the Dennis & SISIS headquarters in Derbyshire to receive an exclusive look at the company’s new and exciting range of environmentally friendly mowers called the E-Series.

For many years, turf professionals have been choosing Dennis Mowers for their superb cut quality and reliability, and anticipation quickly started building when the company announced its new battery-powered range.

The Dennis E-Series is here

The Dennis E-Series is here

Leaving no stone unturned, Dennis Mowers spent over three years working with carefully selected partners to develop a range of quality battery-powered equipment.

In addressing the press, Managing Director Ian Howard said: “Reliable and long-lasting solutions are a must have for our customers and in this rapidly developing technology field we have chosen our partners very carefully. For us it was important to create no compromise alternatives to our petrol mowers, which would not need constantly re-charging or swapping batteries – it was imperative that they last the distance.

“The hard work has paid off and now we can unveil our first market ready equipment befitting of the Dennis badge.”

The Dennis E-Series range currently consists of three products:

ES-860

Users of the Dennis G860 cylinder mower will no doubt see familiarities in the new ES-860. This 34” battery powered turf management system delivers maximum versatility and the range of 13 interchangeable cassette options provide a solution to many day-to-day maintenance tasks such as cutting, scarifying and brushing. The power of the battery system ensures the machine is capable of cutting at least 2 pitches on a single charge or verticutting a full pitch without anxiety. Furthermore, current G860 cassettes will also fit the ES-860, meaning that customers will not have to purchase additional cassettes, reducing initial costs and allowing for a simple and easy change from petrol to battery machines.

ES-34R

The ES-34R rotary mower has twin contra rotating blades with the height of cut controlled by an easy to use ‘click’ system. Suction and blade speed can be adapted to meet the most challenging collection conditions.The mower is also available with optional front wheels, smooth or wiele roller, has excellent sight lines and cuts approximately 2 pitches on a single charge.

ES-36

Based on the Dennis Premier, the ES-36 provides a perfect finish every time. The envied Dennis stripes are easy to achieve which is also helped by a 3-section rear roller. The powerful battery system allows the addition of a trailer seat to be attached and still achieve a minimum of 20km of cutting. A uniquely developed micro adjuster makes it very easy to set the bottom blade to cylinder.

The machines feature a robust LCD keypad screen which provides the operator with a multitude of information options including speed, clip rate, service checks, lifetime running reports and battery information. The E-Series range of mowers take just 2 hours for an ultra-fast full battery recharge utilising a British 110A battery and will help turf professionals meet sustainability and carbon neutral goals. The ultra-low HAV’s and noise allows operators to use the machines for a full day in any environment and along with the low maintenance, very low lifetime costs and significant cost savings on fuel are all benefits of the Dennis E-Series range.

The press had the opportunity to see all three machines in action and even received an exclusive glimpse of the new ES-510 ahead of its forthcoming launch. This new mower is based on the Dennis FT510 – which is, historically, the company’s most popular machine.

Furthermore, Ian Howard revealed that by the end of October every existing Dennis product will have a battery-powered alternative and that work had already begun on the SISIS range too.

In an enlightening presentation, Sales and Marketing Manager Roger Moore offered an insight into how the company has fared since the last press event in 2016. Roger revealed how both Dennis and SISIS have seen year-on-year sales growth and despite the pandemic, are on track to witness a record-breaking year.

This, according to Roger, has all been possible due to the company’s commitment to continual investment – investment in facilities, marketing, exhibitions, seminars, staff, export and of course products.

A factory tour, where all the Dennis and SISIS products are manufactured, gave the press members the chance to see first-hand just some of these investments. The group were also given rare access to the All British Precision factory where components for the machines are meticulously produced.

“It was a pleasure to open our doors to the press and introduce them to the E-Series,” said Ian. “The launch of the E-Series marks a monumental period in the history of Dennis Mowers, and soon to be SISIS. It is the start of an exciting new era.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

For more news, reviews and insightful views, you can follow Dennis on Twitter and Instagram @DennisMowers and like the company’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/DennisMowersUK You can also view the latest Dennis videos by visiting www.youtube.com/DennisMowers

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Summer is mowing with a Countax

Summer is mowing with a Countax: There is nothing like having a well-cared-for lawn to enjoy in the height of summer. Whether you’re just sitting out and relaxing in the sunshine or playing games with the kids, a neat lawn makes all the difference.

Even better if you have that very British finish with perfect stripes. The trouble is the lawn takes a lot of punishment through the year and needs a regime of care to maintain its good looks. Part of that comes from nourishing the grass with fertiliser at the right times, de-thatching and removing moss and aerating. The other part is mowing. Cutting the grass regularly and to the right height makes a real difference to its growth. That brings you to the type of mower you use, especially if you have extensive areas of lawn and even a paddock. Then you will probably look at a ride-on mower or garden tractor. If it does more than simply mow, performing a host of other tasks including scarifying and collecting leaves, that is a bonus.

Summer is mowing with a Countax

Summer is mowing with a Countax

One such garden tractor is the Countax, built in Britain for British gardens for over thirty years and developed around the experience and feedback of customers and dealers. What you get with a Countax is a machine that is built to manage all the British climate throws at you and work for you all year round. It may surprise you how versatile the latest model is with the ability to cut and collect grass at virtually any time, even in the wet, and lay down a striped lawn. Cutting to the right height is very precise by raising or lowering the cutter deck between 12mm and 101mm.

While most ride-on lawnmowers rely on the air from their spinning blades to blow the grass through a chute and into a hopper, the Countax cut and collect system uses a clever brush system to sweep even wet cuttings into a collector. There’s no clogging and the action of the sweeper also removes dead grass and debris, helping to reduce thatch for a healthier lawn. In the autumn, the system can be used effectively to sweep up leaves as well. The grass collector is powered by the tractor’s engine and driven by the Power Take-Off (PTO) that is also used to drive a range of accessories and powered attachments, including a broadcast spreader for spreading rock salt on ice in the winter.

The most recent addition to the Countax range of accessories is the PGC+. Driven by the PTO it’s a cassette system that allows you to switch accessories and transform a Countax C or B Series garden tractor into a year-round workhorse. The grass sweeper cassette comes as standard with the PGC+ and there’s an optional scarifier cassette to make removing thatch and moss easier come early spring or autumn. Even better is the fact it scarifies and collects the debris simultaneously. They build Countax garden tractors tough and versatile to work all year, and you can enhance the enjoyment of your garden throughout the summer.

You can find out more by contacting Countax on 01844 278800 or visit www.countax.co.uk/find-a-dealer to find your local dealer.

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Confidence is high at Bromsgrove

Confidence is high at Bromsgrove: Head groundsperson Richard Hare, has reported excellent results from using a selection of Limagrain products at the outstanding Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire.

Founded in the Middle Ages, Bromsgrove is one of the country’s largest independent schools with a glowing reputation for both academic and sporting excellence. Astonishingly, given the size of it, you can drive through Bromsgrove town and not even see the School. How is this possible? Well, according to most, Bromsgrove keeps one hundred acres of secrets from a casual visitor, hidden like a vast walled garden – and this is where Richard Hare comes in.

Confidence is high at Bromsgrove

Confidence is high at Bromsgrove

Richard is responsible for the all the sports pitches and green spaces across the School’s three sites and leads a team of 15 members of staff consisting of groundspersons and gardeners. Depending on the term, the team maintains an array of pitches, which includes rugby, football, hockey and cricket. However, with such a busy schedule it leaves a tight window for renovations.

“The winter renovation work takes place during the school Easter holidays,” said Richard. “As part of this renovation, we will over-seed all the grass areas with a Limagrain winter sports mix. We carry out the cricket renovations after the cricket festivals which finish the second week of August. The rugby pre-season training starts the last week of August.”

It is during this period that Richard relies on a range of Limagrain UK’s grass seed which includes the headline mixture MM50 for his cricket wickets. Over recent years, Limagrain’s MM50 has been the number one choice for cricket groundsmen. Those representing grass roots, schools, local clubs and international test venues have all benefited from using MM50. This hard-wearing mix has rapid germination, very fine leaved appearance, high shoot density and is tolerant to very close mowing, along with high disease resistance. All these attributes together produce a fantastic sward that has great colour all year round.

“I buy seed from Limagrain UK which covers all the grass areas for cricket and rugby,” continued Richard. “Grass seed, as anyone will tell you, is a massive investment and I can’t afford to apply that amount of grass seed and just hope that it will work. I need to have the confidence that it will germinate especially as we have such a small renovation window. I have that confidence with Limagrain and that is why I have used the seed for so long.

“We don’t have irrigation on all the pitches, and we don’t get a lot of rain in August and it still germinates. We always get great coverage.”

Grass seed aside, Richard also revealed that some of the School’s most aesthetically pleasing areas are thanks to Limagrain UK’s Colour Splash mixtures.  Over the past few years, these flower mixtures have been used in a broad range of landscape and amenity areas throughout the UK. The range has a floral arrangement for every requirement – whether it be a golf course, a local authority green space or any other establishment that has an area which needs brightening up.

The Colour Splash range of mixtures are extremely easy to sow and the resulting vigorous plants are more than capable of competing with weeds. Their vigour is equally matched by robustness; resisting long periods of drought. They are also fast flowering and cost effective.

Confidence is high at Bromsgrove

Confidence is high at Bromsgrove

“We use the Colour Splash mixtures in eight different areas around the School,” said Richard. “The main reason for applying these mixtures was because I wanted to create some wildlife friendly areas. The School and the students have really bought into it and the areas look absolutely stunning – we are always getting nice comments from teachers, pupils and parents.

“Also, we find that these areas are helping us to save on fuel and man hours too because previously they needed cutting and looking after regularly. Now, we just cut the areas and reseed once a year – that is all they need. We just seem to be adding more and more of these Colour Splash areas all the time.”

Richard was also quick to praise the support from both Limagrain and Agrovista Amenity – the company he purchases the seed from.

“I always have good conversations with Mark Allen (Agrovista Amenity) and Matt Gresty (Limagrain UK) and they will come in and help us in any way they can. The advice has been invaluable at times.”

For further information, please contact Limagrain UK on 01472 371471 or visit the company’s website www.lgseeds.co.uk/amenity – you can also follow the company on Twitter: @MM_Seed

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Turf management is coming home

Turf management is coming home: Scott MacCallum chats with Karl Standley and Andy Gray about their respective roles and the forthcoming European Championship.

We can all remember our first day at work. Mine? The train was late, I missed my connection and I had to hitchhike from Dundee to Perth, thus clocking into my first day of honest endeavour two and a half hours late, not fit for even the most basic of induction.

Turf management is coming home

Turf management is coming home

What a first impression! Imagine then, this fresh faced young lad cycling 15 miles, then hopping onto a train, all to get to his local club’s training ground to his first job in groundsmanship.

He’s teamed up with a senior team member, whose job is to guide him through his first day, and is handed the task, under supervision of course, of seeding four pitches and a goalkeeping area.

Up and down he goes, concentrating hard on producing the straightest lines he can muster. Heaving a great sign of relief, mission accomplished, he glanced back to see that the seeder hadn’t been turned on!

His mentor just said, “Do it again”, and a first lesson had been delivered.

But from such inauspicious beginnings great careers can be salvaged, and I’m not talking about mine.

Eighteen years on, that callow youth is preparing the most famous football pitch in the world for the country’s biggest football event since football came home in 1996 – the delayed Euro 2020s. Still a young man, Karl Standley, is Head Groundsman at Wembley Stadium, and that first job was at Southampton Football Club.

And mentor? The guy who let Karl carry on, knowing that the longer he went without realising the seeder was inactive, the better the lesson would be? Well, Andy Gray became Head of Grounds at the FA’s St George’s Park last September, and is now working hand in glove with Karl, and with the England team management, to ensure training conditions conducive to aiding England’s assault on the Championships.

The odds on Karl and Andy going on to hold two of the most prestigious jobs in world groundsmanship would have been so high, that if, during their break on that very first day, they’d popped down to the bookies and put tenner them both reaching where they are now, they could be retired rather than facing up to the most exciting few weeks of their careers.

Ah, the Euros. Well, this time last year Karl was working on a number of scenarios based on the impact of Covid 19, on the assumption that they would still be going ahead on the expected dates. It would be fair to suggest that what ultimately has happened with the impact of the pandemic would not have been covered by any FA scenario, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Andy, on the other hand, started last year planning maintenance programmes for Southampton before the FA came calling and he started work on September 1, last year.

“When we heard those words from Boris Johnson about the seriousness of the pandemic and the lockdown we put everything on hold, but as we all know Mother Nature doesn’t have an ‘Out of Office’ and the grass keeps growing,” recalled Karl.

“So, for us, it was a case of putting a protective bubble around the team and carrying on the good work. Our main focus was on making sure our team was safe, making sure they were healthy, making sure we were aware of any issues in their home life that we should be aware of and that they knew they had our support.”

Like everyone else at the time, Karl’s crystal ball was in need of a complete reboot and wasn’t providing any hints to help his path forward, but he and the team were able to do what they could to keep on top of things.

“Looking ahead to what the next few months were to hold was difficult as no-one knew whether the lockdown was going to be one month, two months or three. Everybody was wanting to know when football was going to come back. It was the one question they were asking.

“But, at the stadium, we just wanted to keep the pitch as healthy as possible so that we were ready for when football did come back.

That was our plan,” explained Karl.

Turf management is coming home

Turf management is coming home

“Luckily our roles are primarily outdoors in the fresh air and we were able to put protocols in place for when we were in the building.

It was a difficult situation to manage but everyone bought into the mindset of keeping everyone safe. The key, as always, is good communication,” explained Karl, who worked two days a week from home during the lockdown, swapping with other members of the team, to ensure minimal numbers were working on site at any one time.

Much of their work was put on hold but as Karl readily admits, “It’s hard for grounds teams to stop and sit still”, and they were still constantly out on the pitch refining what they do.

“We were regularly raking and regularly verti-cutting, constantly on the pitch trying to thin the plant out, make it work and keep it healthy. It was a case of how quickly can we do four rakes of the playing surface and how quickly can we recover.

We ran a few scenarios during lockdown so we could collect data and analyse the results we were getting from the pitch so that we would be ready for when football came back and for the Euros too.”

While Karl was grappling with the consequences of Covid and lockdown at Wembley, Andy was dealing with similar issues at Southampton where he was Grounds Manager.

“When it all stopped nobody had a clue what was going on. I remember that Premier League football was suspended for two weeks and our next match on April 4th was called off and then it went further into April and then further after that. We eventually got going again mid to late June, but it was tricky for us to know what we could and should do in terms of pitches and training ground.

“If we’d known on March 23rd that we had until June 23rd we’d have ripped all the pitches up and renovated them there and then,” said Andy, speaking from his new place of work 135 miles north of Wembley.

When play did start and one season quickly merged into the next, it didn’t give much time for the regular close season renovation work and while Andy believes that pitches have suffered as a result, he can see a small upside to the situation.

“We are often told we are mad to be tearing up a perfectly good pitch, but what has happened this year shows the importance of the work we do between seasons. This season has proven why we do what we do.”

Andy took up post at St George’s Park on September 1, but there was no gentle introduction to his new job as, on that very same day, the England squad arrived to prepare for their autumn internationals.

“I actually started when arguably the pandemic was at its least severe bur come November, lockdown two, the tier system and then lockdown three in January, it’s been pretty tough. But I’ve always said there are plenty of people worse off then me. I’m very lucky to have what I’ve got and to be doing the job that I do,” said Andy, who is living in rented accommodation in Burton and travelling back to his family in Southampton when work allows.

Asked if the situation has been tricky for him Andy is quick to come up with another word entirely -“exciting”.

“It’s the FA, it’s England and it’s what I really wanted to do,” he said.

Andy will have around nine months to prepare St George’s Park for the Euros with the state-of-the-art facility acting as the nerve centre for Gareth Southgate’s campaign to win a second major title.

“It has been a learning curve since I joined. I’d been at Southampton for 22 years and of the 350 or so employees I was the third longest serving, so I’ve gone from everyone knowing that I was there to being the new person. I’ve never experienced that before,” he explained.

However, the pandemic has provided Andy with time which he has used wisely.

Turf management is coming home

Turf management is coming home

“With nobody around for long periods of time it has allowed me to get to know the site and appreciate where things are, it’s just that there are people who I haven’t met yet in the flesh. We have video calls but it’s not the same.”

I asked if Andy had a pre-determined plan to work within at St George’s, if he had the opportunity to put his own stamp on things.

“On the whole I’ve got a free hand to do what I want to do. It was a strange situation in that there was nine months between my predecessor Scott (Brooks) leaving and me taking over. The team here ran things until I started. That, together with the pandemic, meant that there was no official handover.

“But I Iike to think that I got the job on the back of the work I’d done at Southampton, not just on the pitch, but staff-wise and business-wise too.

So that is what I’m looking to impose here. Why change what I was doing when it was successful in the first place?”

Back at Wembley and Karl is having to prepare for the Euros while taking on board all the re-scheduled matches from last year, the matches which offer all levels of player the unique honour of playing on the hallowed Wembley turf.

“We’ve got seven*matches at the Euro’s including both semi finals and the final. We’ve also got five training sessions and probably about seven or eight closing ceremony rehearsals, plus the ceremony itself. But we’ve just had a busy month with backlog from last season to catch up on.

“While just two weeks ago we had the Papa John’s Trophy, Portsmouth against Salford, and that had been held over from 2020, while we have the FA Vase and the FA Trophy as a double header on the same day. There is also the FA Cup semis and the final itself, and the Carabao Cup final.

But the famous pitch is prepared to the highest standard irrespective of whether it is Sutton United playing Harrogate Town or England playing Scotland in the final of the Euros.

“It is all done the same. When we are classed as a neutral venue we prepare the pitch so that it will play best and, for me, that’s a quick game of football. That’s what we like to see, that’s what brings the entertainment and that’s what the players are practising at their training venues. So, whether it is the FA Vase or the FA Cup final itself it is always the same.”

Ensuring the pitch is at its best is a team effort and Karl is blessed with an experienced group of lads, all of whom have an input into how the highest possible standards are met, with cultural methods to the forefront.

“On the back of a game we’ll tear the pitch to pieces and just get the grass plant working and keeping it as healthy as well. Cultural over chemical, that’s our philosophy,” explained Karl, who shares Andy’s view that the best pitch is a “short pitch and a wet pitch”.

“It also about data checking to ensure that the rotational resistance is there. We also look at textile strength. It is key to me when the first bit of sunshine touches the first blade of grass in March that we know we are charging that pitch up and that we have that textile strength.

Without the data it’s a guessing game. Everyone can have an opinion but I’m always looking at the key data to make sure we are ready.”

Back at St George’s and Andy is gearing up for a big month and having just had both the full and under 21 national teams on site is becoming more familiar with the England staff.

“When I arrived at the same time as the squad last September that first camp just flew by but this last week, having both squads here meant I got to know more people and recognising backroom staff on TV from their time here meant I really felt a part of it.

“So, for June we are treating St George’s Park as a club training ground for, hopefully, five or six weeks and within that we’ll have daily dialogue with either Gareth, or his assistant Steve Holland. The medical team play a huge part as well, while I’ll also be speaking with Karl as well because we will be wanting to produce the same conditions to train on as they will have to play on,” he explained.

“It is a real honour to be a part of it. Like anyone who follows football, as a kid I watched Italia ‘90, Euro ‘96, France ‘98 and there was a real buzz about the country. That was one of the things which attracted me to the role in the first place.

“Last week I was able to stand at the side of the pitch watching them train for 20 minutes and I really appreciated what a proper privilege it was.”

Andy visited Karl at Wembley not long after he started but the chat by Teams’ phone on a regular basis covering topics as wide ranging as football pitches; vintage football shirts; family and Panini stickers as both Karl and Andy were and still are avid collectors.

It isn’t surprising though given that shared history they have going right back to the Southampton training base in 2003, and that first meeting on a noisy SISIS Hydromain. Karl was an avid Saints fan and season ticket holder and was one of the ecstatic crowd when Matt Le Tissier scored the very last goal at the Dell, before the club moved to St Mary’s.

“We do go back a long way and have shared trips abroad and went to each other’s wedding. So, it is more than just work for us,” revealed Andy.

So what is it about Southampton which has produced, not just Karl and Andy, but also Dave Roberts, now Head of Grounds at Liverpool; Graeme Mills, current Southampton Head Groundsman; Ricky Rawlings and Dan Osbourne.

“For the first nine years of my career I worked under Dave Roberts and I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever, I could not have asked for a better mentor, tutor, teacher for those early years. That was where my start came from.

“Southampton isn’t just a great academy for players. It’s a great academy for ground staff as well.”

And while Karl wasn’t at Southampton for as long as Andy, he is also quick to credit Dave Roberts for the wonderful start he gave him to his career.

Turf management is coming home

Turf management is coming home

“He was my first real manager and I really soaked it all in. Dave is calm, cool headed and believes in his team. He was always open with me and that mind set is one thing I’ve taken into my grounds team here at Wembley,” said Karl, of his former boss.

So, when that Euro 2020 trophy is held aloft by Harry Kane, or could it be Andy Robertson, at around 10pm on Sunday July 11, or 10.30, if Scotland have had to rely on penalties again, two men – and another sitting watching on TV in Liverpool – will be thinking back to that first meeting on the rusty old Hydromain on the Southampton training ground and appreciating, in Karl’s case, that it is not how you start it’s how you finish.

See Karl and Andy talk with Scott MacCallum on the Turf Matters YouTube channel

Kubota is top of the class

Kubota is top of the class: Taking grasscutting in-house has allowed site manager Ed Crawford to have better control of the mowing cycle at Horncastle Primary School, and a Kubota Z122R is just the machine for the job.

The Lincolnshire school accommodates 580 pupils from nursery-age to year six, and the four-acre site includes grass playing fields and lawns, from small areas around car parks to a one acre field.

Kubota is top of the class

Kubota is top of the class

“We have used a contractor in the past, but last year decided to do the pedestrian mowing ourselves. It then made sense to have a ride-on for larger areas, as we were paying £2500 a year just for grass cutting.”

A discussion with local Kubota dealer Irelands Farm Machinery, which opened its groundcare division last October, suggested that a Z122R zero turn would be the ideal solution.

Powered by a 19hp petrol engine, the mower packs a punch with a 1.07m (42in) cutting deck to tackle larger areas with ease, but features a clever zero turn steering system. This uses a pair of levers for precise control of forward and reverse and steering, allowing it to manoeuvre in its own length for effortless work in tight or tricky areas such as around flowerbeds or street furniture.

“It’s very manoeuvrable,” comments Mr Crawford, who is the main driver, “But can really move on and cover the ground on a longer run. The levers took a little getting used to but I was soon up and running; it’s very easy to operate.”

He notes that the twin blade rotary deck produces a high quality cut, and says: “The grass has always been cut with a cylinder mower, but I actually think the rotary is doing a better job. We’ve also got the flexibility to mow when the grass needs it, rather than on a contractor’s fixed schedule, and at a time and in conditions that suit us.”

Cut height will mainly be kept fairly consistent, but he praises the ease of adjustment allowing a taller sward to be left in spring and autumn.

“The Kubota has a good, comfortable operator platform and there’s a clear view over the deck,” Mr Crawford notes. “The deck lifts up and there’s a hose slot for easy cleaning out, and on our use so far, fuel consumption looks low,” he says.

Irelands Farm Machinery will offer servicing as needed, but Mr Crawford expects the Z122R to have low running costs.

“It’s a really well-built machine, much more robust than others that we looked at, so I think it will stand up well to the work and will last. We’re very pleased with our choice.”

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SAGE is on for summer 2021

SAGE is on for summer 2021: With the government’s announcement outlining the road map for this summer, SAGE is officially ON!

Join us from 27 – 29 July 2021, for the UK’s largest outdoor Sports and Grounds Expo .

SAGE is on for summer 2021

SAGE is on for summer 2021

Set in the stunning surroundings of the Three Counties Showground at the foot of the Malvern Hills, the show will feature hands-on demonstrations and experiences, offering visitors the chance to see and test out the latest products.

Visitors can also observe leading exhibitors showcasing their products, without any limitations on space, while also hearing the latest ideas from within the industry.

SAGE brings together grounds personnel from a broad range of sectors, providing an engaging and well-resourced environment. The expo will advise companies on how to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness, exploring and showcasing the products that can help.

The government’s announcement out of lockdown has really opened up the summer; SAGE now sits perfectly in the calendar, and provides a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and to see what is on offer across the industry. Our motivation is to give visitors a hands-on experience, without compromising on safety, and at The Three Counties Show Ground this is easily achieved.” Says Event Manager Vicky Panniers

“Our aim is to provide an environment that will benefit everyone from grass roots to senior management; we are very excited about what is on offer and we look forward to seeing you all.” She continues.

The Sports & Grounds Expo will be the highlight of the industry calendar this summer, offering a safe and proactive environment for those operating across all sectors of the sports and grounds maintenance industry. SAGE is a free event open to all, who are interested in the sports and grounds industry.

For more information, contact the team today by email: team@sportsandgrounds.co.uk, by phone: +44 (0)1684 580101 or visit the website: www.sportsandgrounds.co.uk.

Visitor registration is now open – Go to www.sportsandgrounds.co.uk to register and to be kept up to date with what’s to come! Follow SAGE news on Twitter & Facebook for updates.

The safety of visitors and exhibitors is a priority, the latest health & safety advice will be implemented, security measures including social distancing have already been put into action, hand sanitiser will be readily available and free pre-registered bookings for all visitors to reduce queues are heavily encouraged.

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Etesia is the way for Hard Graft

Etesia is the way for Hard Graft: Hard Graft Garden Services, based in East Lothian, Scotland, believe that two Etesia machines are leading the way when it comes to green space management.

Hard Graft Garden Services is very much a family affair. In 1986 the company was by launched by Neil Stuart who initially started working with his brother Ian and then later with his three sons – Sam, Fraser, and Lewis.

Etesia is the way for Hard Graft

Etesia is the way for Hard Graft

While Neil still does the ‘hard graft’ behind the scenes with garden visits and admin, the day-to-day operations are overseen by the three brothers.

“We all bring different skills to the company;” said Lewis. “My role is to concentrate on the machinery side of things because I have come from a mechanical background and therefore, I source all of the machinery we use.”

In living up to the company name, Hard Graft Garden Services have built a reputation for supporting the local community and providing an unrivalled customer service. Working on a wide range of domestic gardens, the family is renowned for taking great pride in their work, no matter what the size of the project.

“We are very selective when it comes to machinery – it has to be the best,” continued Lewis. “I like to keep abreast of all relevant industry media and I read lots of customer reviews and watch numerous product videos. I came across Etesia UK’s social media channels and the more I saw, and the more I read, I just got the impression that the machines were something special.”

After enquiring, Lewis was put in touch with Scottish based Etesia dealer – Border Chainsaw and Lawnmower Services. A demonstration was arranged, and the brothers were instantly impressed.

“Off the back of the demonstration, we ordered an Etesia Pro 53 LKX2 straight away,” Lewis said. “The dealer also told us he was getting a lot more machinery in stock which included an Etesia scarifier. I said I was interested in that and so I initially hired it for a week to see what it was like.

“Within the first couple of hours of using it, all three of us looked at one another and agreed that this was the machine for us.”

The Etesia MSC45 is a powered pedestrian scarifier for domestic and professional use on lawns and amenity areas. The machine has a working width of 45cm and comes complete with a Honda GX160 5.5hp engine ensuring that it will be suitable for applications ranging from treating the average lawn to rejuvenating estates and formal grounds – perfectly fitting the bill for Hard Graft Garden Services.

The Etesia MSC45 can be used for regular use or as part of a maintenance programme at different depth settings with the use of interchangeable reels that can be swapped without the use of any tools allowing the spring mounted tine reel to remove thatch and the scarifier unit to take out more of the bulk.

“Our customers have been blown away by what this machine can do, and you can’t get much better feedback than a customer saying how outstanding a machine is.

“We get a lot of rain and snow up here in Scotland – so when we do get a good spell you need a good quality machine to help you do the job. We have had plenty of machines in the past that have struggled and have had various mechanical issues but the MSC45 just takes everything in its stride.

“It is also one of the easiest and by far the most comfortable pedestrian scarifier I have ever used,” he continued. “The long handlebars enable you to position your body in a better position and it is a lot easier on your back. It is great for storage too because the handlebars fold over. You can just tell that every aspect of this machine has been well thought out – and the same goes for the Etesia Pro 53 LKX2.”

Robust, durable, and highly efficient, the Etesia Pro 53 LKX2 is a professional, heavy duty 3 in 1 mower offering exceptional performance on slopes. The mower is powered by a powerful Kawasaki 6.0hp commercial grade engine for strong reliable power. Other features include 5 pre-set cutting heights ranging from 25mm to 85mm, semi-agrarian rear wheels are fitted to improve traction on slopes, and specially shaped handlebars which are fitted to provide the user with maximum comfort.

“We have had several other lawnmowers over the years and the biggest problem we have around these areas, is wet grass,” said Lewis. “The majority of the mowers fail to cut or collect in these conditions but when you see the LKX2 in action it is breath-taking. It gives us the confidence knowing that we will not ever have to arrive on site and worry about not being able to cut grass. No matter the thickness, no matter the height, no matter the weather – this tackles everything you throw at it.”

“Ultimately, these Etesia machines make us more efficient,” concluded Lewis. “The equipment is the highest in class and they make our lives easier. It’s peace of mind too, you get support from the dealer, support from the manufacturer and you have the warranty too – Etesia just goes that extra mile for the customer.”

For further information, please contact Etesia UK on 01295 680120 or visit www.etesia.co.uk.

You can also follow Etesia on Twitter @EtesiaUK for much more news, reviews and insightful views.

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Pellenc is the way for Border Lawns

Pellenc is the way for Border Lawns: Angus Roberts believes he has an opportunity to make his new business – Border Lawns, stand out from the competition and he claims that his recent investment in a range of Pellenc products will certainly help his cause.

Angus recently announced that he was stepping away from greenkeeping to set-up a new landscaping business called Border Lawns in Scotland. He admits to it being not without risk though, especially as he held a prominent position as the deputy course manager at the Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course. However, with youth and experience on his side, it seems a logical decision – even more so when you refer to his already impressive CV.

Pellenc is the way for Border Lawns

Pellenc is the way for Border Lawns

Angus left school and began an apprenticeship at the Roxburghe in 2017 but he got his first taste of tournament preparation in 2016 when he volunteered to be part of the BIGGA Volunteer Support Team that helped at the British Masters in 2016.

A year later and he was awarded the prestigious Toro Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year. It was an incredible achievement for someone who had just a year’s full-time greenkeeping experience. Never one to rest on his laurels, Angus continued to impress and as well as achieving his level 3 qualification in greenkeeping, he also received successive promotions at the Roxburghe. However, he now feels the time is right to go it alone.

“I’ve branched out from greenkeeping to form Border Lawns and it is something I have been working on in my spare time for a while now,” said Angus. “The company specialises in lawn treatment and other general services such as mowing and hedge cutting. There is a lot of competition with other big franchise companies but after a lot of research, I do feel there is an opportunity for my company to stand out from the crowd.”

To do this, Angus believes in only using market leading equipment and it is for this reason that he had his heart set on the Pellenc range of battery-powered equipment.

A forerunner when it comes to lithium-ion technology, Pellenc has established itself as the number one choice in the ‘zero emission’ professional power tools market for the maintenance of urban and green-spaces.

Light, odourless, noise-free, with no starting problems and enough power to enable professional users to work for a full day on a single charge, it’s no wonder more and more professional users are turning to Pellenc. It is an attractive alternative to those who have, for several years, been relying on fuel-based machinery.

With an extensive product list available from Pellenc, Angus chose to invest in a whole new fleet consisting of chainsaws, blowers, hedge cutters, brushcutters pole saws, grass strimmers and mowers. All these products will be powered by 1200 and 1500 ultra-lithium batteries.

“I first saw the products being demonstrated by Agrovista Amenity when I was working at the golf course and I was taken aback,” he said. “I have used lots of petrol-powered machinery over the years and they have been great but there is an expense to keep them going, and you do get issues with them. As a company I would like to be environmentally sustainable and benefit from the long-term savings that can be achieved through battery-powered products.

As Angus says, not only will users see a huge amount of savings by eliminating the necessity of purchasing fuel but by using the Pellenc equipment, they will be contributing to protecting the environment by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and noise pollution.

“The fact that they are so quiet and comfortable are huge benefits too,” continued Angus. “I can start work earlier in the morning because the equipment doesn’t disturb anyone, and I can work for longer periods because the machinery doesn’t scream my head off!

“The run time of the Pellenc equipment is so far ahead of all of the other electric products out there. They are waterproof with an IP54 rating too so I can work in any weather – which is vital. Another big benefit is that the batteries are recyclable.

Pellenc UK recently announced the launch of an industry leading four-year commercial warranty for all batteries and three-year warranty for all tools – something which further impressed Angus.

“The warranty is a great peace of mind,” he said. “Ultimately, the Pellenc equipment is powerful, reliable, environmentally friendly and keeps its worth for several years – it is a good investment in my opinion. Allan Wright from Agrovista Amenity, who supplied the equipment, has also been very helpful – that’s exactly what you need from a dealer.”

Pellenc products are exclusively distributed in the UK by Etesia UK.

For further information, please contact Etesia UK on 01295 680120 or visit www.pellencuk.com

You can also follow Pellenc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @PellencUK for much more news, reviews and insightful views.

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