The Groundsman

March 2016

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Page 12 of 51

Visit for more information and digital editions 13 the Groundsman March 2016 The pitch has already improved considerably ounded in 1857, Sheffield FC is the oldest football club in England now playing association football. The club had been based at a number of grounds around Sheffield before finding its present home in 2001 at the Coach & Horses ground, formally the home of Norton Woodseats FC, which has a capacity of just over 2,000. Currently at Step 4 in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League South, the club hosts four senior teams - from the first Xl and under 21s to the Women's Super League (WSL) Xl alongside the women's development Xl being introduced for the 2016 season. Junior development is linked into a number of sides that have created a partnership with local teams to allow a progression through to the senior teams. This is also further developed with formal links with the Sheffield and Hallamshire University, along with local schools. Problem With only a six-week break between the end of the current league season and the start of the WSL, maintenance of the facility is very much under scrutiny. The ground sits across superficial deposits of alluvium (gravel, sand, silt and clay) making it difficult to create a free-draining and playable surface without constant quality maintenance. From initial visits in 2015, I found a pitch quickly becoming unplayable; in fact, the club was postponing games on a regular basis. F Oldest football club calls in IOG for turf care guidance Regional pitch advisor Ian Powell reports on his work with Sheffield FC to help get its pitch back to a playable condition By: Ian Powell A comprehensive report, submitted to the club, detailed the initial findings of poor grass coverage across two- thirds of the pitch and standing water on considerable areas, with the surrounding ground along the whole of the length of the pitch also very unstable (causing foothold issues). Pitch profiles showed that a sand dressing had been applied in an attempt to bind the surface as well as help with water infiltration. The lack of a primary drainage system was adding to the problem, as any water passing through the surface was reliant on a natural low water table to be able to remove it from site. Action Recommendations were to undertake the complete removal of the top surface, leaving the surface level and to enable the sand slits to be accessible to any irrigation, thus allowing moisture to infiltrate the profile. This to be followed up with a complete topdressing of 60 to 80 tonnes of graded sports sand (to aid with drainage), which should be ameliorated in to establish appropriate levels along with the application of a quality perennial ryegrass mix plus fertiliser. Through using specialist sports contractor Premier Pitches, the above work was carried out in summer 2015. Results Following a recent re-visit to the facility there was clear evidence of how limited budgets, combined with the use of appropriate products and a clear understanding of the correct maintenance procedures, plus the involvement of regional pitch advisors, can make a difference to any club at any level. The condition of Sheffield FC's ground had improved, but there is still some way to get it to the standard the club requires to be able to withstand the impact of senior football. There is much better grass coverage, although the drainage is still an issue as there is evidence of standing water in some areas mainly around the high wear areas of the goalmouths. l

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