The Groundsman

December 2013

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BEST PRACTICE 17 the Groundsman December 2013 I've also been pleased with the results of trials using the seaweed extract liquid fertiliser, Sea Nymph. "We installed a Fibresand pitch at The Valley about 10 years ago (to replace the basic soil pitch) and this is regularly overseeded with a Johnsons Sports Seed mix which I find provides excellent recovery after each game. It's a fact that sometimes 14 substitutes use the touch line for warming up, so those areas do suffer wear and tear. On the other hand, thankfully we rarely have training sessions on the pitch; team manager Chris Powell is very good in this respect. "We maintain the sward at 28 mm and coupled, with a regular maintenance routine that involves the use of a pair of Honda rotaries immediately after each fulltime whistle, plus regular vertidraining to six inches – and occasionally to 12 inches, when ground conditions allow us to use the heavier tractor – the pitch generally holds up very well, depending on the weather." Rewarding success In addition to annual renovations by a contractor, Paddy is helped at the stadium by his deputy, Nathan Chapman, who divides his time between the 27,000-capacity venue and the club's training ground in New Eltham, about eight miles away. "I'm hopeful that Nathan will succeed me when I [eventually] retire," 65-year-old Paddy comments. "Though I'm still feeling good and fit enough to carry on for the time being." Now in his 35th year with the club, Paddy's devotion to The Addicks was publicly rewarded this year with a testimonial game staged in July. "I loved every minute of my playing career and I'm lucky now to be the groundsman at the club I've always been a fan of," he adds. "I wouldn't change a thing, and it's great when then team win and people compliment you because the pitch has played well." l " The standards of pitches and the science of turf care has progressed tremendously over the years " Improving standards "The standards of pitches and the science of turf care has progressed tremendously over the years (and the game of football has changed, too)," he says. "Today's players want flat, soft and well-watered pitches – which can cut up badly. In my playing days, I must admit I liked a soft pitch but if we would have asked the groundsman to water the pitch we would have been laughed at. In those days, most groundsmen only used a hosepipe for irrigation." He continues: "With more modern developments in pitch construction and advances in grass seed, fertilisers and growth inhibitors - Primo Maxx, for example – the art of groundsmanship has come on in leaps and bounds. This year Colin 'Paddy' Powell Visit for more information and digital editions

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