The Groundsman

November 2013

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18 IOG BEST PRACTICE the Groundsman November 2013 Porter's passion for pitches Keith Porter has a seemingly insatiable appetite for producing top-class playing surfaces, for football and rugby, in and around Wigan. Colin Hoskins travelled to the North West to find out what drives this IOG Industry Award winner By: Colin Hoskins T he fact that the stadium pitch at Leigh Sports Village is today regarded as one of the best in rugby league – and that the site's accompanying community and training pitches are among the country's top amateur facilities – is a true reflection of the work that Keith Porter and his team have put in at the Wigan site since his arrival there as head groundsman five years ago. Five natural pitches were under scrutiny when he joined the councilowned site; the main stadium's surface, which was subsequently replaced by a Desso Grassmaster, plus two each for rugby and football. The facility also has two synthetic surfaces, including a relatively new 3G surface. Pitch reconstruction "I've seen a lot of badly constructed pitches, but when I arrived here the natural playing surfaces were in a bit of a mess," says Keith. "In fact, the grass pitches [outside the stadium] were so bad they hadn't been played on for two years. We had to literally rebuild all the Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions surfaces, and when we started vertidraining we were hitting stones and lumps of concrete, metal and lengths of chain – you name it, we found it." According to Keith, the drainage was largely fine, on one outlet, for example, the output was 14.5 litres per minute. We inspected using cameras and could see that the laterals were coming in okay – but some runs weren't connected. "All the pitches were built on gravel carpets, which was fine," he says, "but it was their top layers, everything above the gravel, that needed remedial work.

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