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Lancaster rugby pitch destroyed

Lancaster rugby pitch destroyed: Vale of Lune RUFC, to the north of Lancaster, has had its community rugby pitch trashed by vandals using it as a dirt track for their car.

Read the full article from Lancs Live here

Lancaster rugby pitch destroyed

Lancaster rugby pitch destroyed

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Junior footballers are pitch perfect

Junior footballers are pitch perfect: A former premier league groundsman is working his magic on Barnard Castle FC juniors’ pitches.

Read the full article from The Teesdale Mercury here

Junior footballers are pitch perfect

Junior footballers are pitch perfect

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Rockhampton hoping for pitch perfect summer

Rockhampton hoping for pitch perfect summer: Groundsmen across the country are busy preparing pitches for the start of the cricket season, but Jeremy White has more work to do than most.

Read the full article from Gazette Series here

Rockhampton hoping for pitch perfect summer

Rockhampton hoping for pitch perfect summer

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NW Pitch Maintenance make their mark

NW Pitch Maintenance make their mark: With 54 pitches to mark including Salford City Football Club’s training ground and stadium, owner of NW Pitch Maintenance, Andy O’Sullivan, brought the Turf Tank robotic line marker https://turftank.com/row/ on board to improve the efficiency of his line marking operation.

Andy, who was initially sceptical about robotic line markers, arranged a demonstration of the machine at one of his most challenging grassroots pitches with Matt Murray, Northern Area Manager for Turf Tank. After seeing the accuracy of the lines despite the difficult undulations, he knew it would be an asset.

NW Pitch Maintenance make their mark

NW Pitch Maintenance make their mark

“When Matt from Turf Tank came out to me, I took him to one of the worst pitches I have to look, after in terms of we can’t always get on it because it’s always a bit rutted,” Andy explains. “It was raining heavily, but the lines were really, really straight, and that convinced me to buy it because I thought if it can do that on there, then I’ve got a chance with this thing.

“The difference with the Turf Tank right now is really apparent because no one is playing football.  Previously we would have had to keep the lines otherwise we’d lose them and need to set them up again which is another three-hour job on every pitch.  With the Turf Tank we have set the pitches up, and we won’t have to go back and overmark them until the pitches are required again.

“Now we turn up, put the base station up and off we go because the pitches are already set-up on the tablet and it’s only 20 minutes to mark. The time we save being able to do that justifies the robot alone. And I’d say the lines are undoubtedly better because when you’ve got a grassroots pitch with undulations, even when you string a pitch with an undulation, you’re going to follow that yourself naturally and the string doesn’t stay on the ground, it rises above that dip. Whereas the Turf Tank will follow that dip down because it’s low to the ground as well.

“I can send my son Liam off to another site, and he can be cutting, and I can take the Turf Tank with me and the tractor to cut as well. I cut one pitch at the training ground and set the Turf Tank off on the other one. I’m then cutting while that’s doing its work, we finish at similar times, and I set it off on the pitch I’ve cut and by the time I’ve packed my trailer up it’s ready to go. It’s like having another staff member with me, and in total, I’d say it’s saving us 20 to 25 hours a week on line-marking time.

“From the off the robot has been great for us and Matt’s training when he installed the machine and back-up service since has been brilliant. He went with Liam and me to a site and talked us through it and made sure we both knew what we were doing and whenever I’ve had questions, he’s sorted me out on the phone or FaceTime, so he’s been excellent the whole time.”

Since having the Turf Tank, Andy has been able to diversify his line marking offering and is scheduled to line a lacrosse pitch for the first time and plans to mark running tracks in the summer. Templates for a large number of sports are pre-loaded into the tablet to make marking them quick and easy, with the operator simply having to plot them and push go.

For more information about the Turf Tank One visit www.turftank.com or contact matt@turftank.co.uk (northern UK) or alex@turftank.co.uk (southern UK).

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Wayne Rooney on Derby pitch

Wayne Rooney on Derby pitch: Derby County boss Wayne Rooney says groundsmen up and down the country are “doing everything they can” to make sure pitches are in the best condition possible.

Read the full article from the Derby Telegraph here

Wayne Rooney on Derby pitch

Wayne Rooney on Derby pitch

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Sunderland pitch problems

Sunderland pitch problems: Lee Johnson says Sunderland need to invest in their pitches after the Stadium of Light turf was badly affected by Storm Christoph.

Read the full article from the Sunderland Echo here

Sunderland pitch problems

Sunderland pitch problems

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Groundsman sleeps out on pitch

Groundsman sleeps out on pitch: Chorley’s groundsman Ben Kay worked hard to make his team’s pitch playable, sleeping on the pitch under a heated tent.

Read the full article from The Daily Mail here

Groundsman sleeps out on pitch

Groundsman sleeps out on pitch

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Tynemouth’s members pitch in

Tynemouth’s members pitch in: Tynemouth Golf Club in the north-east of England, opened in 1913 and designed by Willie Park Jr, is reaping the benefit of an innovative bunker renovation programme, carried out with the help of synthetic bunker edging solutions provider EcoBunker Ltd.

“It was pretty obvious that we had to do something about our bunkers,” says greens chair David Steven. “Not only were they 107 years old, but we run a regular membership survey, and every time, the bunkers were voted as the biggest problem, with members complaining about contamination of sand and animals digging up the edges.”

Tynemouth’s members pitch in

Tynemouth’s members pitch in

Club pro John McKenna saw the EcoBunker solution in use when playing at another course, and brought it to Stevens’ attention. “We are a parkland course, not a links, although we are close to the North Sea, so there was some concern as to whether revetted edged bunkers would meet our needs,” says the greens chair. “So, as part of my research, I visited the BIGGA greenkeeping show in Harrogate and met the EcoBunker team. I realised that the solution would fix a lot of our problems – it would give a permanent shape to the bunker edges and protect against invasive animals. And the use of recycled materials was very attractive from a sustainability perspective.”

After building two EcoBunkers as a test, the club decided to take the plunge and rebuild all its greenside bunkers using the solution. But Steven was concerned about getting the bunker construction right. “If you are doing all the bunkers at once, then if you get it wrong you get everything wrong,” he says. Employing a specialist golf contractor to do the work was out of the question on cost grounds, but the club found an answer using an innovative ‘hybrid’ method. EcoBunker construction manager Llewelyn Matthews came to Tynemouth to act as project manager, and labour was provided by the club’s own greens crew and a group of temporary staff – who were all club members!

“We didn’t want to do the job on the cheap and mess it up, but at the same time we could not afford to throw money at it,” says Steven. “To protect the value of the project, it was essential that we had great buy-in from EcoBunker, and using Llew Matthews as a PM gave us that. When he came to do the two test bunkers, he was brilliant, which gave us confidence that EcoBunker had its fingerprints all over our job. He stayed for four weeks, which was essentially a month-long course in building EcoBunkers. We think we could have completed the entire project of 34 bunkers on schedule, had COVID-19 not reduced our manpower. When Llewellyn left, there were still eleven bunkers left to finish, but our team had been trained so well that they were able to knock them off in two and a half days, and we are over the moon with the results.”

“Lots of clubs want to do bunker renovations, but don’t have enough money for a contractor and a turnkey project,” says EcoBunker CEO and inventor Richard Allen. “But they can afford to buy in the materials, get a project manager and provide the labour and plant from within. The alternative is that they have a two day training course and say ‘Right, now we know what we are doing’. But it is hard to keep the impetus high like that. Greens crews are busy and get distracted, and the bunker work is usually the first thing to be forgotten. If they hire a project manager, though, they realise they need to hit it hard while he’s with them. It’s a way of committing to the project, which is what all good bunker work needs if it is to be to the high standards that golfers expect.”

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Irish surfaces kept pitch perfect

Irish surfaces kept pitch perfect: There may be no games taking place in the Danske Bank Premiership right now, but a small band of individuals up and down the country are still having to prepare as if there are.

The day that football does return is still a long way down the line as the coronavirus continues to make its presence felt across the world, but pitches still need to be maintained in the meantime and it’s down to groundsmen across the league to ensure that they’re ready to go when sport gets the green light again.

Irish surfaces kept pitch perfect

Irish surfaces kept pitch perfect

Tommy Doherty, the groundsman at the Coleraine Showgrounds, said: “It’s just about keeping it ready while we’re waiting for a call from the Irish League to get back to playing again.”

The general duties tend to be the same around most grounds right now, bar those clubs who have 4G pitches, in that the grass needs mowed and the white lines need repeatedly marked.

It’s vital work done behind the scenes to little fanfare, and if it isn’t done now then the Irish League wouldn’t be able to return as soon as it will. Instead, every ground should be up to scratch when needed.

Glentoran groundsman William Kirkwood explained: “If Mick McDermott rang me right now and told me there’s a match tomorrow then the pitch would be ready to go. It’s not panic time. We do keep on top of things.”

It’s a thankless task, especially because no fans are even able to see the fruits of the groundsmen’s labour at the moment, and it’s frustrating as well. After all, the season could, theoretically, be cancelled at any point.

Dungannon Swifts groundsman Davy Magee said: “It’s tough when you’re cutting the grass and marking the pitch and there’s no football at the weekend. It’s all for nothing, you know?”

Doherty agreed, and added: “It keeps you busy, although you miss the football. There may not be any football for the rest of the year and all my work is for nothing, but you can’t take that chance. They could step onto the pitch at any time.”

In the meantime, Kirkwood and Magee are trying to get ahead of the curve by completing some of the work that they were hoping to do over the off-season.

Kirkwood’s intentions are to spread 100 tonnes of sand on The Oval pitch and then re-seed the surface so that it’s in pristine condition for the start of next season, plans which have been halted both by the lack of rain and the lockdown.

“I want to try and do it now, but most of my suppliers are closed. Most of the sand comes from Emerson’s in Lurgan but they’re closed up. Because it’s heavy work, I usually bring in a contractor but he’s closed up too,” he explained. “I’m preparing to do it myself, but hopefully at the start of May those guys might be able to work again.”

Magee has already seeded his pitch but has run into similar problems.

“We seeded it three weeks ago and now it’s just about waiting for the new stuff to come up,” said the Swifts man. “We can’t get sand or anything like that because everywhere is closed, and we need sand to fill holes. We can’t get the machinery either.”

But at the end of the day, for all the work they can do, what all three groundsmen are united on is that football can’t return soon enough and they’ll see their pristinely prepared pitches back in use once more.

Click here to read the original article

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College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch: After winning the 2019 SALTEX College Cup, four students from Myerscough College recently enjoyed an unforgettable experience at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu Stadium.

The annual SALTEX College Cup, sponsored by Toro and Reesink Turfcare, is a student-led sports turf challenge – an academic test of turf management knowledge for student competitors who are enrolled at a college on a relevant course of study.

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

Myerscough College, located in Bilsborrow, Preston, entered a team into the competition solely consisting of apprentices. Scott Danter (Warwick School), Ashley Hill (Warwickshire County Cricket Club), Ryan Harrison and Nick George (both from Leicester City Football Club) are all currently studying Level 2 or Level 3 sportsturf apprenticeships.

The competition consisted of paper-based multiple choice and short answer questions on turf management, plus a case study which required a more in-depth written answer. The students were also presented with live test samples in which they had to identify potential threats to the health of turf.

Myerscough College proved victorious and saw off competition from Askham Bryan, CAFRE, Bridgwater and Capel Manor to win the trophy. The Myerscough team was then presented with a prize that money can’t buy – a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Real Madrid’s Bernabéu Stadium, where they would get the opportunity to learn from Paul Burgess, Madrid’s director of grounds and environment.

As part of the prize the four students enjoyed an invaluable groundscare work experience placement in the run up to one of the biggest domestic fixtures in world football, El Clásico, between Real Madrid and Barcelona. During their weekend visit the group enjoyed a full, behind-the-scenes experience of just what it takes to prepare the playing surface for such a prestigious fixture, and even got the golden opportunity to be part of the team that maintains the Bernabéu’s hallowed turf.

It was an experience that will live long in the memory according to student Ashley Hill: “This was a real honour,” he said. “Seeing in detail what the grounds team do at the training ground and at the stadium was inspirational. Mowing the pitch at the Bernabéu was the icing on the cake.”

Ryan Harrison believes that opportunity to learn from Paul Burgess has helped to improve his skill set and will enhance his prospects in the grounds management industry: “Paul and the team were brilliant with us all and I learnt so much. Helping to prepare the pitch for the El Clasico was a real privilege and I am going home a better groundsperson.”

The Bernabéu tour follows three extraordinary SALTEX College Cup prizes in previous years. In 2017 the winning students were part of the Wembley grounds team at the FA Cup Final and the following year the winners enjoyed an unforgettable experience of helping with pitch preparations at the 2018 Six Nations Championships at BT Murrayfield Stadium. Last year saw the winning College win a behind the scenes tour at The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), Wimbledon in which the students received an in-depth look at court preparations the week before The Championships 2019 took place.

The SALTEX College Cup continues to go from strength to strength and Dan Prest, head of technical and learning at the Institute of Groundsmanship, believes it is a fantastic platform to encourage and inspire the younger generation.

“This competition is all about raising standards in our industry. Young people should see this opportunity as a viable career option and that there is a progressive career path for them to follow,” he said.

All colleges interested in participating in the 2020 SALTEX College Cup should email Dan Prest at dprest@iog.org for more details.

SALTEX 2020 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham on 4 and 5 November.

For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/IOGSALTEX

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