The Groundsman

June 2014

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TOP TIPS 47 the Groundsman June 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions There's nothing more exciting for football fans than the culmination of the English football season. Dreams are made into reality and the despair of missing out equally so. Multiple teams take part in The FA Cup Final, the Football League Play- Off Finals, the Conference Play-Final and The FA Vase, and the only thing that links them all is the venue they are played in: Wembley Stadium. "Magic May," as Wembley Stadium managing director Roger Maslin coined it, starts after the last match in April, which in the 2014 calendar was The FA Cup semi-finals. According to head groundsman Tony Stones, after the match and "once any brusining has grown out of the grass leaf we will overseed and verti- drain to easy any compaction," explained head groundsman Tony Stones. While the players jump, slide, kick and barge, Tony and his trusted team - Karl Standley, Brendan Abbott and David Moulds - watch intently, not only at the world class action but for areas that might need special attention at half-time and at game-end. But with almost a month between semi-finals and The FA Vase, the team know exactly what needs to be done. "Regular mowing with strings will continue to keep the plant healthy," said Tony. "The sward is kept at around 25mm to help aid its recovery. Also due to the stadium's own micro-climate, this keeps the surface free from any moisture and let's air movement reach the bottom of the plant." A methodical process, the Wembley team trust its step-by-step process that allows for a strong and an impressive looking pitch. "A fertiliser will be added, normally a 12.0.12 with added amino acids to help the root structure," says Tony. "Fungicide and also Nemacide will be added to ensure we are proactive with our surface and not reactive. An iron liquid mix will be added three days before the main event to help aid the colour." Wembley Stadium head groundsman Tony Stones provides an insight into the build-up for last month's FA Cup Final Magic May at Wembley By this time, the turf has really taken shape and its baize-like veneer has every wannabe football player drooling at the prospect of stepping foot over the white lines, but Tony and his team still aren't 100 per cent happy – though the Wembley team even managed to get a boxing rehearsal included which saw the pitch completely covered for 24 hours! "If we have even the slightest damaged areas on the surface, we will use our SeeGrow lighting rigs to enhance and develop these areas and ensure it is back to its best." Ensuring pitch perfection is not where it ends for the team. Taking pride in the stadium as a whole is just as important; goals and portable goals will be washed, new goal nets attached, astro-turf run-off areas cleaned and debris removed. "The FA Cup Final is a global sporting event, the oldest cup competition and still a level of prestige like no other, we therefore want everything to be perfect. Not just a carpet of a surface with gleaming white lines but everything around the pitch itself, too. We expect the best from each other." On Cup Final day, the staff arrived at 7am, 10 hours before kick-off. The surface was stringed out for a double cut and goals erected for Hawk-Eye to test. Marking strings and white lines were then added and double marked, before corner flags were positioned and penalty and kick-off sports marked. This meticulous preparation ensured that the 133rd FA Cup Final and 80th Final at Wembley was one to remember. l TOP TIPS

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