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Are County cricket pitches soft targets?

Are County cricket pitches soft targets?: It is no surprise that the standard of County Championship pitches has once again been thrust into the spotlight following England’s capitulation in Australia.

Read the full article from Cricbuzz here

Are County cricket pitches soft targets?

Are County cricket pitches soft targets?

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Vandals churn up grass pitches

Vandals churn up grass pitches: An amateur football club’s pitches have been vandalised by “idiots on motorbikes”.

Read the full article from the Bolton News here

Vandals churn up grass pitches

Vandals churn up grass pitches

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Football Foundation to power up grass pitches

Football Foundation to power up grass pitches: The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation has today announced the launch of its ‘Power Up Your Grass Pitch’ campaign, which will revolutionise the state of grass football pitches in England.

The country’s biggest sports charity is on a mission to improve over 7,000 grass pitches by 2024 and 20,000 by 2030, to ensure the 12 million grassroots football players across the country have great places to play.

Football Foundation to power up grass pitches

Football Foundation to power up grass pitches

Around 87% of affiliated football is played on grass pitches, and with over 150,000 matches cancelled due to poor pitch quality during the last football season alone, play is often brought to a halt. The improvements brought about thanks to the Football Foundations work will make these cancellations a thing of the past. Further more if the improvements are achieved, by 2030 grassroots football pitches in England will be able to facilitate an additional 30,000 matches per week.

Improving facilities means that more people across England will get to enjoy playing the nation’s favourite sport, transforming people’s physical and mental wellbeing, as well as supporting local communities and economies.

To help make this ambition a reality, the Football Foundation has developed an app which is now being rolled out across the country. ‘PitchPower’ is an online tool that gives every community football club and organisation in the country the ability to carry out their own grass pitch inspections, providing fast and accurate data which is less time intensive and more efficient than in person inspections. Once an inspection is submitted, Regional Pitch Advisers at the Grounds Management Association produce an assessment report with bespoke advice and recommendations to improve the grass pitch quality at a site.

By using this tool more widely, the Football Foundation anticipates it will be able to carry out as many as 20,000 inspections a year, five times as many as in the past. In its trial phase, PitchPower has helped to inspect almost 5,000 pitches. These inspections have led to 446 grants being issued worth £8.6m, all of which has gone towards improving 1,564 pitches.

Once inspections have been completed via the PitchPower app – clubs and facilities are then eligible to apply for funding from the Football Foundation to support pitch improvements identified through the app.

Along with PitchPower unlocking funding, clubs and organisations will also be encouraged to upskill their workforce by having access to a range of free courses from the Grounds Management Association and join a community of professional and amateur groundskeepers on the free Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community App.

Robert Sullivan, Football Foundation Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Millions of players are left disappointed every year when their matches are cancelled due to poor quality pitches, something the Football Foundation and its partners are working tirelessly to prevent. We have made some ambitious targets when it comes to improving grass pitches – we want to get 20,000 pitches to ‘good’ quality by 2030 – to ensure no games are called off because of a poor quality pitch.

“Thanks to funding from the Premier League, The FA and Government our dedicated teams will be working hard to ensure clubs and facilities across the country have the support and resource they need to power up their grass pitches.”

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Youth football pitches wrecked

Youth football pitches wrecked: Five pitches maintained by Aspull Juniors FC were churned up and left unusable after reports on social media that there was a quad bike riding on the grass last week.

Read the full article from Wigan Today here

Youth football pitches wrecked

Youth football pitches wrecked

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PNE’s pitches boosted by Mansfield Sand

PNE’s pitches boosted by Mansfield Sand: Pete Ashworth, Head Groundsman at Preston North End FC, has revealed how products from Mansfield Sand play a role in achieving consistently good playing surfaces.

Pete, a graduate of the highly regarded Myerscough College, originally began his career at Blackburn Rovers FC before moving to Preston North End FC in 2005. The award-winning groundsman now oversees 7 members of staff over three sites.

PNE’s pitches boosted by Mansfield Sand

PNE’s pitches boosted by Mansfield Sand

Across those three sites, which includes Deepdale Stadium, the youth academy and the new first-team training centre, Pete has six Fibresand constructed pitches – and this is where Mansfield Sand come in.

“Mansfield Sand were used during my time at Blackburn FC, and I have personally dealt with them the whole time I have been here at Preston North End – the customer service has always been first-class,” said Pete.

“There are two products in particular that we use across the Fibresand pitches we have, and they are incredibly important to the playability of them.”

Pete uses Mansfield’s Fibresand, which is a pure sand and polypropylene fibre reinforcement product that is particularly advantageous when grass cover has been reduced due to heavy usage and wear during the winter period. It is incorporated into an upper sand soil rootzone and consolidated to provide a stable divot-free environment.

“We’ll use the Fibresand during renovations and how much we apply really depends on how much we need,” he said. “Mansfield Sand will usually come and take samples in December to see what our levels are and when we find out what the fibre content is, we will then know how much fibre we need to add. You need to have a certain percentage of fibre to keep that stability in your surface and have the best pitch you can.”

Historically, Deepdale Stadium was the only Fibresand pitch under Pete’s remit, but 2019 signalled the start of more and he has not looked back since.

“We used to have drainage issues on the pitches at the youth academy centre, but that has all changed now.

“I’m a big fan of Fibresand pitches and I like to think I am fairly good at dealing with them in whatever conditions are thrown at us. In the North of England, we get a huge amount of rainfall and the pitches let the water through with no problems at all – that is thanks to the great products from Mansfield Sand.”

Furthermore, Pete revealed that while he relies on Mansfield’s Fibresand for renovations, he will also use the company’s MM40 product.

“We’ll use the MM40 for a straight sand top dressing, especially for the pitches that aren’t having a full cultivation,” he said. “It is a brilliant medium sand and I always try and keep a couple of tonnes left over for goal mouths or any other areas.”

From winter sports pitches, golf courses, bowling greens and all amenity turf areas – Mansfield Sand has a solution for all.

For more information visit www.mansfield-sand.co.uk

You can also follow the company on Twitter – @MansfieldSand and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldSandSportSurfaces/

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GMA takes 3G pitches course online

GMA takes 3G pitches course online: Following a year of significant growth to its online resources, the Grounds Management Association launches its Level 2 ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Pitches’ training course.

The online course is designed to help participants understand how to effectively maintain a 3G pitch to provide a safe surface, whilst meeting performance criteria and optimising its longevity. ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Surfaces’ also helps participants understand the signs when a surface is coming to the end of its life.

GMA takes 3G pitches course online

GMA takes 3G pitches course online

With the role of grounds staff and volunteers diversifying, it is increasingly important for more individuals to understand how to maintain and extend the life of different types of playing surfaces. The course is suitable for both professionals and volunteers with basic experience, as well as others involved in sports facility management who wish to gain a better understanding of the maintenance and upkeep of these surfaces on varying budgets.

The course is available to purchase via the GMA’s website for a member and non-member rate. The association now holds seven online courses and aims to relaunch its Continuing Personal Development programme next year alongside its new website.

With restrictions now easing, the GMA hopes to reopen its face-to-face practical sessions that complement its online resources, such as its online courses and the Grounds Management Toolkit, later this year.

To sign-up to Level 2 ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Pitches’ visit: https://bit.ly/3fKVzWG

Jason Booth, COO at the GMA commented:

“We have seen increasing pressures on grounds staff and volunteers like never before. Facilities are often understaffed, so groundspeople are expected to understand more about a range of surfaces and offer a helping hand across local networks. Contrary to belief, 3G surfaces are not low maintenance and they require a high level of knowledge to fulfil their lifespan.

“This course compliments our wider learning programme that focusses on grass pitches, helping grounds people gain relevant skills and best practices when dealing with 3G surfaces.”

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Pitches down to -6֯c? TGC could help

Pitches down to -6֯c? TGC could help: With vast swathes of the country once again experiencing bitter winter temperatures, if you’re going to ‘get the game on’, you need a proven frost protection solution.

total-play’s TGC winter sports cover offers this and more – combining frost protection down to temperatures as low as 6֯c whilst actively encouraging germination of the grass plant. The result – healthy winter sports pitches that are ready for action, pretty much whatever winter throws our way.

Pitches down to -6֯c? TGC could help

Pitches down to -6֯c? TGC could help

In use by clients that include Premier League football grounds, Premiership Rugby Union grounds, the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union), National Hunt race courses and the Lawn Tennis Association, TGC is the result of rigorous research and development by experienced groundscare operatives in  conjunction with scientists; acting as an effective insulation blanket and retaining ground temperature while also allowing the circulation of air and water to create a proven germination and propagation environment.

And, while the covers are usually made to order, clubs looking for a quick-fix solution in the current challenging weather conditions could snap up a full pitch cover, ready for immediate dispatch, for just £9,999 + VAT & delivery*. Carrying a 5-year warranty for the fabric, this robust frost protection is suitable for manual deployment but also has optional inflation tubes to enable fast and easy deployment by a single grounds operative. MD at total-play, David Bates says:

“This is a truly rare opportunity – normally the covers would require a lead time of several weeks from point of order to deliver, but we unexpectedly have a single full pitch cover ready to go at a very keen price. This means a club could reap the benefits or TGC within a matter of days and, with the outlook looking so wintry, it could mean the difference between matches going ahead and costly cancellations.”

To find out more head to https://total-play.co.uk/products/climate-cover-pitch-protection/tgc/frost/ – alternatively, email info@total-play.co.uk or call 01604 864 575

*RRP £15,060 +del&vat. Cover only; does not include inflation tubes as per image.

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Quality sand = healthy sports pitches

Quality sand = healthy sports pitches: A high-quality sand is vital to the overall health and performance of a sports pitch and Gary Cunningham, Football & Golf Sales Representative for Mansfield Sand, explains why.

Mansfield Sand has pioneered the development and production of premium silica sand-based products for over 170 years. The company provides a wide range of innovative products for sports, landscaping, and equestrian uses. These include stadium and training ground facilities; championship golf courses and world class show jumping arenas.

Quality sand = healthy sports pitches

Quality sand = healthy sports pitches

With a wide range of sand-based products available, it can sometimes be difficult to know which one will be most suitable. So, what should we be looking for in a good sports pitch dressing?

“Ideally a good quality silica sand dressing, aerated into the surface is all winter sports pitches require,” said Gary. “However, it is important to select the right industry grade of sand which is suitable for sports dressing application.

“A quality washed sports grade silica sand will be graded between 30 and 45 and each grade will be proceeded by two letters which designate the quarry they are supplied from. The lower the number, the coarser the sand is and vice versa – the higher the number, the finer the sand.

“There are also some sands that are unsuitable for winter sports pitches,” continued Gary. “Generally, you need to stay away from fine and coarse/grit sands. Finer/building sand will in effect seal up the surface while coarser products can destabilise the surface over time. Any reputable supplier of sports sand products will be able to provide you with a product grading and technical sheet.

“At Mansfield Sand, we predominately provide two grades of silica sand to the sports market, MM35 and MM40 – which are sourced directly from the company’s Two Oaks quarry in Mansfield.”

Gary spends most of his days travelling up and down the country visiting a variety of sports clubs from world class stadia through to grass roots. The most popular choices are 29 tone and 20 tonne loose tipped deliveries for full pitch dressings and 1 tonne bulk bags for when a little is required for touch up’s and divots.

Gary further explained best practice when it comes to divoting and touch up’s – particularly in goal mouth areas.

“Post-match divoting is best done with a fork by teasing the surface back together with a light dusting of sand to aid surface levels. For bigger deeper scars, a small amount of sandy rootzone mixed with a little seed can be used to add a little body to prevent it being kicked out. As only a small amount/hand full of rootzone are being used, it is possible to ensure it is stone free.

“Goal mouth areas are one such area needing extra attention – no amount of aeration and dressing will stop the grass thinning out on a sand soil surface. In severe situations if wanting to level the surface you can dig out the compacted rootzone and replace with a depth of fresh rootzone or even a reinforced product. If the area is just experiencing general wear, then a normal renovation sand dressing can be OK with an overseed.”

Gary also claimed that there can sometimes be some confusion between a rootzone and a pitch dressing.

“I quite often get asked for a sand soil dressing or a rootzone product to be spread over a pitch, but this always sets off alarm bells as this is not what rootzones are designed for,” he said.

“Rootzones are manufactured products of differing sand soil blends to be used in pitch construction as the growing medium for the grass. Rootzones all contain small stones which when spread over the surface can damage mowing machinery or cause player injury.

Mansfield Sand sieve down to 6mm for rootzone products.”

Gary recommends somewhere between 60-90 tonnes of sand for an end of season renovation on a full-sized playing area but stressed the importance of applying it properly.

“It will be important not to spread to much sand so as not to smother the grass plant or have a lot of sand laying over bare areas. It is good practice is to aerate during the sand dressing process, working the material into the upper rootzone profile.”

For more information visit www.mansfield-sand.co.uk

You can also follow the company on Twitter – @MansfieldSand and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldSandSportSurfaces/

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PNE boss says pitches are suffering

PNE boss says pitches are suffering: Preston North End manager Alex Neil thinks pitches are starting to show signs of wear and tear because the shortened close season prevented repair work being done on them.

Read the full article from The Lancashire Post here

PNE boss says pitches are suffering

PNE boss says pitches are suffering

For the latest industry news visit turfmatters.co.uk/news

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New kit for new pitches at Towcestrians

New kit for new pitches at Towcestrians: With two rugby pitches and a new, dedicated cricket pitch all constructed to add to the existing two rugby pitches, Towcestrians Head Groundsman, Tom Waldock, knew he would need some new machinery to keep everything in shape!

While waiting for a new compact tractor and roller mower, Tom was putting in about 40 hours a week on his new Ransomes TR320 to cut all the sports pitches as well as the outfields, edges and training areas!

New kit for new pitches at Towcestrians

New kit for new pitches at Towcestrians

 

Now his new Iseki tractor (with bucket) and topper have arrived he’s looking forward to sharing the load in 2021 and getting more remedial work done to improve both the old and the new playing surfaces.

“I was looking for a tractor that would be able to operate a slitter and vertidrain as well as perform other tasks, but not damage the surfaces. I was originally considering a smaller model but went for the bigger 46hp Iseki TLE4490 with the extra carrying capacity in order to get the performance. It will also pull the cutting deck on the backfields.”

“I also went for the loader and have already used it more than I thought I would! It’s been a godsend for filling holes in the car park and carrying stuff around. Now I’m just purchasing one more bit of kit for the Iseki to pull to help out with the many events we host in between all the sports training and fixtures.”

Before coming to Towcestrians, Tom spent several years each at Peterborough United, MK Dons and latterly at the Ricoh Stadium. He’s used a lot of different mowers and would have said they were all pretty similar, but says he feels differently about the Ransomes.

“I wanted a decent cylinder mower for the playing surfaces on the main pitches and surprisingly I’ve found the Ransomes TR320 to be the best machine I’ve used. It’s really smooth and makes the cut very easy. It’s the lightest machine on the market which was important because we have a full clay-based surface and I wanted minimum compaction. The Ransomes is certainly delivering both for me and for the pitches.”

“I’m really pleased with the advice and help I’ve had from RT Machinery in choosing the right equipment. Richard and Andy’s knowledge across a large range of brands and machinery, right off the top of their heads, is just unbelievable and has been incredibly helpful as part of the five-year plan I drew up for the development and improvement of the grounds.”

“Aside from the Ransomes and the Iseki, I also now have a new Wessex CRX180 fine turf roller mower from them for the edges and rougher areas where the juniors train. In addition they’ve supplied a used Sisis Multi Slit and a Husqvarna TC138 Lawn tractor and they’ve been able to offer great value on servicing, which will be critical in keeping everything working well across the seasons.”

“Back to work and preparing the grounds for a welcome return to grass roots sports!”

For more information, please call 01844 299037, or visit rtmachinery.co.uk

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