The Groundsman

February 2015

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he grounds team at Harrow School faces many challenges in maintaining the extensive sports facilities at the independent boys' school's 350-acre site in north west London – not least keeping the surfaces up to scratch to meet the heavy usage the grounds endure almost every day of the year. However, one task that does not test their groundsmanship mettle too strongly is the preparation of the 12 pitches for Harrow Football, the historical game played exclusively at the school and one that is ancestral to association football. Using predominantly their feet, the Harrow Football players may also use any part of their body including in certain circumstances their hands and T Lee marshals a winning team At just 28 years of age, Lee Marshallsay heads up Harrow School's award-winning grounds team – and his youthfulness clearly belies his adeptness at man-management and the team's skill at maintaining first-class sports surfaces By: Colin Hoskins arms, to propel the leather 'pork pie' shaped ball. The game is played on a pitch very much like a rugby pitch - only muddier and very uneven - and while the ball tends to soak up mud and water and become extremely heavy, the players also invariably end up caked in mud, too. "Requirements for the preparation of these pitches are fairly basic," says Lee Marshallsay, interim grounds manager. "In fact, we mainly just cut the grass and overseed. The pitches sit on a layer of London clay (like all our sports surfaces) and with no drainage, as such, these pitches tend to hold the water, which creates an ideal surface since the game requires soft and muddy pitches." School sports' programme The Harrow Football pitch maintenance regime is in direct contrast to the regular routines for the school's other sports surfaces, which are subject to a regular programme of sandbanding and deep aeration, which helps alleviate water problems and with appropriate maintenance routines and drainage work, encourages first-class surfaces. These include, on the main school site, 14 grass rugby/soccer pitches and a nine-hole golf course (as part of a Capability Brown landscape), plus cricket and football facilities on another site – eight grass squares, an artificial pitch, eight artificial nets, eight grass nets and two indoor nets, as well as two football pitches for Harrow old boys. IOG BEST PRACTICE 16 the Groundsman February 2015 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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