We may not have brought football home this summer, but British groundsmen took their expertise across Europe, as in eleven Euros-host cities, the perfection of the grounds was down to the expertise of the British. According to an article by William Ralston in The Week (17th July 2021), all but two of the pitch experts assigned by UEFA came from the UK. Our British groundsmen have diplomas in turf management.
Work started in November 2019 to get Wembley ready for the final. This included replacing 6,000 tonnes of rootzone and a team of 15 worked 24/7 for three weeks bringing in sand from Surrey to help drainage. It took eleven weeks for the grass to mature. Then the Euros were postponed. November 2020 saw renovation start again. When kick-off was four days away, the man in charge, Karl Standley, and his team mowed the grass by about 2mm each day to ensure a perfect match length of 24 mm.
It made me wonder about how Barrow Town FC keeps its pitch in condition, so I arranged to meet groundsman Bruce Dalrymple who lives in Breachfield Road. Not surprisingly, a village club staffed by volunteers is not quite able to meet the stringent requirements of UEFA pitches. He does a fair amount of work, though.
At the end of last season all the pitches were cut, scarified and vertidrained (had holes stuck into the soil). Then a company was called in to fertilise and reseed. The grass seed is sown in channels and then left for 2-3 weeks to grow and develop good roots. The junior pitches can claim a grant for this work, but the club has to find its own money to pay for work on the adults’ grounds. Bruce then comes in with his mower and cuts it two or three times a week (depending on the weather) and waters it when necessary. The ground has its own artesian well, so it can pump water directly onto the pitches. I never knew that! Bruce then has to mark the pitches every week with the line marker. The pitches are then regularly rolled and spiked as required.
He has seen a lot of improvement over the years with fencing and floodlighting being added but says that it is a community club for the village and locality and depends on volunteers helping. The more volunteers, the less work individuals have to do! Every offer of help is welcome. Contact: Michael Bland: firstname.lastname@example.org