The Groundsman

December 2013

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14 AHEAD OF THE GAME the Groundsman December 2013 Getting Hampden back on track Stephen Bache, head groundsman at Hampden Park, Scotland's National Stadium, will draw on his wealth of expertise to get the stadium ready for action after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games' track and field events. Colin Hoskins reports By: Colin Hoskins tephen Bache is very familiar with the need to act fast to re-turf or to have a new pitch installed at Scotland's National Stadium, Hampden Park. Because during his 11 years there as head groundsman, like so many grounds professionals up and down the country, he has regularly had to act quickly to reestablish the playing surface after a summer of events - including concerts - on the turf. But, he admits, a new set of challenges will be presented next year after the stadium hosts the track and field events for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. "It really is uncharted territory," says the 49 year-old. "Because the pitch is being raised by 1.8m to make way for the construction of the temporary running track, the current pitch will effectively disappear. "Once the Games are over and the 'temporary' track and field is removed, I will have a short period to install the new pitch – and it will be a new pitch – ready again for top class football. "I'm in no doubt that the Games will be a fantastic spectacle for Scotland, for S Glasgow and for everyone here, especially for my team members Scott Macready and Gary Macreadie. Being part of such an event is a once-in-alifetime opportunity and we are all looking forward to the challenges it will bring." Multi-use venue Primarily a football and concert venue (though American football and rugby has also been played there), Hampden Park hosts the Scotland team games, Cup Finals and is the home ground of Queen's Park, the only amateur club playing in the SPFL - currently in Division 2. With the stadium and surrounding campus being utilised for the Games, the club will play its 2014 home fixtures elsewhere. "As well as a new pitch, which we installed for the 2002 Champions League Final, we've had a number of re-turfs over the years after events such as pop concerts, often meaning that we've not not had much time betwen concert and first game." Stephen continues. However, the situation created by the Commonwealth Games is unique. Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions Turf-care experience IOG member Stephen moved into the lead role at Hampden after some time in greenkeeping, where he gained a City & Guilds qualification in 1980. The golf experience stood him in good stead in terms of wider experience, he says: "Because a golf course has a series of different surfaces compared to a football pitch, in my view greenkeeping provides a much wider range of turf care experiences," expertise that no doubt will be much in demand next year. As well as a busy football calendar, Stephen also spends time with local junior clubs, offering advice and loaning equipment, where necessary, to help them maintain better standards on often very limited budgets. He has also started to host IOG training courses at the UEFA-rated Five Star Stadium (the only other ground in Scotland that has Five Star status is Rangers' Ibrox) in an attempt to "rekindle the networking spirit of groundsmen in this area". l

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