The Groundsman

February 2016

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BEST PRACTICE 18 the Groundsman February 2016 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions obody would dispute the significance of Colchester United FC's fourth round FA Cup home tie with Tottenham Hotspur. Not least because it offered the League One club's squad at least 90 minutes of global fame in last month's sell-out fixture against a Premier League giant. Head groundsman Dave Blacknall, however, did not buckle under the pressure that a capacity crowd (10,000 plus) and BT Sport cameras brought to the fixture. He's been successfully managing and maintaining the club's stadium pitch for the past 27 years - at N Dave Blacknall works his magic for Colchester's FA Cup tie Colchester United's long-established head groundsman Dave Blacknall talks about pitch preparations for the club's historic cup tie at the Essex club's Weston Homes Community Stadium By: Colin Hoskins the Weston Homes Community Stadium since it was opened in 2008 and before that at the Layer Road ground, which had been the club's home since its establishment in 1937. Pitch preparation He followed a similar pitch preparation routine for the Tottenham game as he does for every match, albeit with an eye on the weather. "Our last game here was eleven days before the fourth round tie, when we played on the Tuesday, following a Saturday match," says Dave. "In the build-up to these games, however, we were forecast frosty nights/mornings, so the pitch was covered in preparation for the Saturday game then recovered after the game for Tuesday's match. We lifted the covers on the Monday for some divoting and a light mow (with our Ransomes Mastiff walk-behind cylinder mower) to 27mm, more to stand up the turf than actually cut it. The pitch was the covered again until late Tuesday afternoon, ready for that evening's game." Then followed a sequence of events during the eleven days before the Colchester United FC's head groundsman Dave Blacknall, alongside one of his home-made lighting rigs that keep the sward 'ticking over'

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