Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday 27th January

Great news!

It is not often that groundsmen get good news, but today I heard that the Parish Council have given the club a grant to buy a new sight screen.

For a number of years we have been very grateful to Acaster Steel for making a pair of sight screens. These consisted of a metal frame to which we fixed sheets of plywood at the start of each game. The frames were painted white and needed regular maintenance as the rust came through. The plywood sheets did their job but were at the end of their life. 

Last year on a very windy day one of the screens blew over. Thankfully nobody was hurt but that signalled the end for these screens.

The Parish Council has been very supportive over the years, giving us grants for most of the equipment that we have needed.  They have help us buy: a SISIS Autoturfman, SISIS scarifier, 2 layflat covers, a BowDry, SISIS Combirake, a Sarel roller and a wheeled sprayer. These grants have made a big difference to our club and we are very grateful to them.

Two years ago the Recreation Centre bought a sight screen to help obscure some new play equipment that had been installed, right behind the bowler's arm. We bought one with a mesh screen that can be rolled up after each game and screen can easily be removed at the end of the season and stored away. We will buy another one with the grant we have just received. If any club is thinking of buying a new sight screen I can recommend this type.

4m mesh cricket sight screen

The next job is to order it and then when it comes, put it together. The new one has hinged uprights which means that the screen can be positioned on the uprights at ground level. No longer will we need a ladder at each end and two brave volunteers lifting the screen into position!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thursday 15th January

Winter is a time when you can catch up with friends and old colleagues and today I visited an old colleague who has taken up the post of head groundsman at Leeds United's training ground at Thorpe Arch.

It is always interesting to talk to other groundsmen, be they professionals or just amateurs like myself. When I arrived they were vertidraining to get the grass roots as deep as possible. Whoever I listen to the one thing that comes across is aerate, aerate and aerate. There is no doubt that the work that has been done at Copmanthorpe has had a significant effect on the depth of root growth and this means less damage to the surface.

I read an article in Pitchcare's magazine last year where the head groundsman of one county cricket ground vertidrained the whole square as soon as the season had finished. It seemed odd to do such a drastic thing to a cricket square but this breaks up the compaction and gets the roots growing as deep as possible. Many players and spectators don't realise that on a cricket pitch we don't really want the blades of the grass, just the roots to bind the loam together.

I always like looking at the other equipment that other clubs have and my visit today helped focus my mind on some of the equipment that we might try and get in the future.

Next week the annual Turf Management Exhibition comes to Harrogate. I will try and get over there to see what I can learn and hopefully make some contacts.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuesday 13th January

The weather was at last suitable to do some work at the club today. It was still cold, but at least sunny so I thought it was time to transfer one of the bags of topsoil into another bag that was the right way up. This turned out to be harder than I thought as the topsoil was quite damp. After an hour the job was done and I was very warm! Next week I will have a go at the other bag.

Twice a year the playing area (apart from square) is vertidrained and twice a year it is 'schockwaved'. Yesterday our contractor STS came and did a  'shockwave' treatment. Not only does this reduce the compaction giving better drainage, it also helps air get to the grass roots and encourages deeper root growth. Having this treatment for a number of years has certainly helped the grass withstand the weekly football games. Fortunately the Recreation Centre pays for this work to be done. The machine leaves the field looking like it has been sown with seed.

I learnt the other day that 'Grandfather Rights' for the purchase and spraying of chemicals, are ending in November this year. Although the major spraying at the Recreation Centre is done by STS, we still need to do some spraying, such as for worm control, as and when necessary. We also need to use a broad-spectrum herbicide such as glyphosate to control weeds in various parts of the Rec. This leaves us with a dilemma: does someone go on a course at a cost of £375 to get the certificates to allow us to purchase and use the chemicals or do we get a contractor in as often as is necessary?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Thursday 1st January

Happy New Year.

With a change in the weather I was hoping to do some aeration on the square using our SISIS Autoturfman. We bought this from Tewkesbury Bowls Club some years ago having seen it advertised on Pitchcare. It was a long way to travel to get it, but this has turned out to be a very good investment.

Unfortunately the ground is too wet and I won't be able to aerate for a while.

Despite a lot of money spent on drainage, thanks mainly to the Football Foundation, the playing areas do not drain well. I am told that we are not very high above the level of the River Ouse and when that it high little drainage occurs. 

Having two football pitches adjacent to the square causes a lot of damage to the outfield which has to be repaired at the start of the season. 

As we don't take over the field until the end of April, getting the outfield into a decent state for the early season games is difficult. Using STS to vertidrain, re-seed and topdress as soon as the football finishes helps a great deal, but we don't really get a decent outfield until June.

It isn't often that groundsmen get an invitation to anything but the other day an invitation from Swallow Hall Groundcare dropped through the letter box. We have used Swallow Hall for our end of season work for a number of years. Swallow Hall are sponsoring a game at Selby Rugby Club this saturday and they have invited their loyal customers to be their guests. I am not able to go, but appreciated the invitation.