The Groundsman

July 2015

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Visit for more information and digital editions IOG BEST PRACTICE 15 the Groundsman July 2015 charged with caring for the surrounding 180,000-200,000 sq m of off-pitch areas including meadowland, jogging trails, wetland areas and trees. The centre features 14 pitches – four synthetic surfaces and 10 grass; four natural and six hybrid, including two Desso pitches that replicate the Wembley Stadium surface and three Fibresand surfaces that use Rigby Taylor R14CR, R314 and R140 seed mixes. Today, the results of the endeavours by Alan and his 14-strong team – and, it must be said, the wisdom of the FA's Pitch Development Working Group - regularly attract global plaudits, including the 2014 IOG Kubota/Redexim Charterhouse Best Maintained Artificial Pitch of the Year Award. Alan is clear that the ongoing success of the National Football Centre and the quality of its playing surfaces – whether natural, hybrid or synthetic - is due to three factors: • The skill and dedication of his groundscare team – Alan is complemented by a head groundsman, seven groundsmen, four estate workers and a co-ordinator; • The "great support" of the FA's Pitch Development Working Group - "the group is so proud at winning the award that the trophy is on full display in reception at the FA's offices here"; • And the continual input and expertise of suppliers such as Bernhards, Campey Turf Care Systems, Harrods, Rigby Taylor, Ransomes Jacobsen, Redexim Charterhouse and Technical Surfaces. While the individual contributions by everyone in each group are invaluable, with all three groups working with a similar, singular mindset of delivering a high- quality of service and achieving excellence, the National Football Centre is clearly underpinned by an unrivalled powerhouse of experience, expertise and technical know-how that will undoubtedly continue to enhance what can be achieved in the care of playing surfaces. Quest for perfection As Alan highlights the maintenance routines that won his team the IOG Award, his typical intelligent thoroughness and relentless quest for perfection shines through: "The way we approach the care of a synthetic carpet is no different to that of a grass pitch in that 'more use means more maintenance'," he says. "Yes, a synthetic surface will give more hours' play than a grass pitch, but it's never been true that the maintenance of an artificial surface should be easier or any less. I've always seen synthetic as needing the same level of maintenance; albeit a different type of maintenance." He continues: "I've spent a lot of time researching the use and maintenance of artificial surfaces, gathering information, input and advice from users in Scandinavia, Germany and Holland, for example, as well as from STRI. "In addition, we work continually with companies such as Technical Surfaces and Redexim Charterhouse to push the boundaries; indeed, our partnership with Redexim is invaluable and the company's business manager Curtis Allen works closely with us in discussing and developing new equipment and new ways of working. Redexim offers a comprehensive range of kit – and our work with the company, which clearly specialises in this field, has included visits to the machine manufacturing site in Holland and in-depth discussions with its designers." Alan Ferguson has always seen synthetic pitches as needing the same level of maintenance as natural grass surfaces, albeit a different type of maintenance t

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