Since the 2018/19 season finished on Saturday 4th May, and with the two weeks of Highbury Hire events, have you ever wondered how our ground staff look after the pitch in the summer?
Fleetwood Town’s Head Groundsman Nick Hyndman has given us an update about the day-to-day maintenance of all pitches at Poolfoot Farm and at Highbury, along with what happens during the off-season.
It's not just at the stadium and the training ground where Nick and his team work on pitches, it is also in the local community, and with local grassroots football teams. Work is ongoing at East Pines Park with their new surfaces, but also it's all systems go at the Salvation Army in Fleetwood, where they've helped to renovate their small grass area into a small sided football pitch.
Here is what Nick had to say about the job he and his staff do throughout the year at the club:.
On why the pitch needs renovating…
“The reason we do the annual renovations is due to something that most people don’t see. Forms of weed species grow around the pitch and a ‘thatch layer’ along with the organic materials start to build up.
“The pitch could last, but it’s important we do what we are doing in the off-season so when we reach the winter months, we would all start to see the affect on the drainage, the grass species and ultimately this is a process that takes place to maintain the pitch all year round."
On the update of where the pitch is at…
“The off-season is probably our busiest times of the year with the annual renovations at both Highbury, and also down at Poolfoot Farm. We’ve done all of the training ground now with specific areas worked on with the goal mouths on the development pitches. We have brought up the two elite pitches – opposite the main car park – and now it’s time to focus on the main pitch down at the stadium.
“We are about halfway through at the moment, with seeds going in hopefully by the weekend and then wait for the grass to grow so then we can cut it and get it ready in time for the first game of the new season."
On his job and what his staff do on a weekly basis…
“People only see what we do at the weekend down at the stadium, and I’d say 70% of our work is done down at the training ground making sure the pitches are in good condition for training on a day to day basis. There are requirements for training, but then we also have requirements for the main pitch and we have to switch to game mode very quickly and get the pitch ready for the match on the Saturday."
On the new synthetic goal mouth addition & the drainage…
“With the age of the pitch now, I believe it’s the eleventh season we’ve had this, it’s important we keep it at the best possible standard throughout the season. We are doing some remedial work with 1,000m of drainage to go into a problem area, and then working with the stability in the goal mouth as there wasn’t too much.
“To combat that, we’ve now installed a hybrid carpet which is 45m2 in each goal mouth, so now that will hopefully help the keepers with their foot ins and also keep the pitch in good nick throughout. The grow-light we had last season helps us a lot and that has been a massive success to our planning, especially in the winter. There is less light and the temperature in the air and on the pitch drops and the light just helps with the continuation of the grass to maintain the cover. We can cover 50m2 with the light, and these days we see Premier League clubs with full pitch length lights.”
On the community projects away from Fleetwood…
“The staff here like to get out into the community and work on projects throughout the year. One of those is at East Pines Park – the home of Anchorsholme and the Chairman’s local grassroots team – and with their lottery funding, and our advice and work, we are helping them grow their pitch and helping them grow that into the surface.
“We’ve also recently just worked with the Salvation Army in Fleetwood by creating a little pitch at their place and for us it’s a great feeling giving something back to the community. We love helping out at local grassroot teams, with charities because what we can offer is something really beneficial to those who want our support."
On the support of his staff…
“Here at the club, we have a fantastic bunch of lads who work hard to maintain the standards that we set ourselves. Unfortunately one member of the team is leaving us to join Premier League side Liverpool, so I would like to thank Ash for all of his efforts.
“That also goes to show what we do here. We have now shown that we can develop people and give them a platform to go and make that next step in their career, and with Ash he has a fantastic opportunity to work at Anfield.”