With no game to enjoy this weekend, we cornered our head groundsman Matt Hallam to learn more about the role he and his team play in preparing the surfaces at Meadow Lane and our training ground.
First and foremost, Matt, who’s in your team?
I’m fortunate to have the help of two great lads in Luke Evans and Richard Cooper. We all share the same ambition of providing a strong and healthy plant all year round across two sites and four pitches.
David Rhodes has also helped the club a lot over the last 18 months, lending kit for us to use on a weekly basis and helping if we are short on staff.
What are the main things you look for to measure the health of a pitch?
There are lots of things, including:
- The colour of the plant to ensure it’s healthy and to check for any signs of disease
- The firmness of the pitch and level of traction
- The amount of moisture on the surface
- The level of organic matter on the surface - the less there is, the ‘cleaner’ the pitch is
It’s vitally important to have the right nutrition on the pitch and to test the soil on a regular basis.
What are the main factors in getting ready for game day?
Checking the weather is always important – Mother Nature can be our biggest friend, but also our worst enemy!
In the summer we’ll give the pitch a double cut with out Dennis g860 mower. It only needs a single cut in the winter.
After that, it’s all about the finishing touches such as marking out the pitch.
What do you monitor during the game?
It’s important to keep a close eye on how the pitch is playing – how does the ball move across the surface? Are the players slipping, or do they have good stability?
You also need to put plans in place for half-time. If the surface appears to be lacking moisture, you need to be ready to get it watered.
Then, when the match is coming to an end, you need to establish whether the pitch is dry enough to be mowed, while also giving thought to how you can recover damaged areas ASAP.
How’s it been going this season and how are we looking for the run-in?
Everyone knows that we’d planned a more extensive renovation for the summer of 2020 but, with so much uncertainty over our playing schedule at the time, we decided to do some basic work to ensure we could get a new pitch ready ASAP.
While, as expected, there are a few problem areas I’m very confident the pitch will see us through to the end well.
It’s difficult to plan for this summer as the amount of time we’ll have to work on the pitch depends on our participation in the play-offs but I’m in regular dialogue with our CEO Jason Turner to establish the best way forward.