Cambridge United Stadium Manager and Head Groundsman Ian Darler says that the past few weeks have been ‘the most challenging close season’ he has ever experienced in 43 years of the job…
Torrential rain, high winds and thunderstorms throughout the month of May have meant for a demanding period of renovation of the Abbey Stadium pitch as a full maintenance job of Cambridge United’s home pitch gets underway.
“The First part of the process was that we needed to take off the top 25 millimeters of the playing surface off but due to the heavy rain, we had to stop the process because of all the water that was on the pitch,” Darler said. “It was leaving half of the debris behind so we had to start playing catch up.
“We then went on to replace 14 of the pitch drains as we knew that some of them were coming towards the end of their life. We excavated the ground, the pipes went in and that was the day we had local thunderstorms, so all the drains had debris washed into them which meant we had to decontaminate them before continuing with the work.
“The next process was to reincorporate 300 tons of fibre sand onto the pitch which coincided with us having the weekend of 50mph winds, so once again we had to stand down the contractors because the first bucket load of sand that we poured into the hopper truck, two thirds of it took off across the sky’s which meant further delays.
“I have to say, the contractors have been absolutely outstanding. They have been with me from the crack of dawn until last thing at night and I couldn’t speak more highly of them. They have been really patient and very supportive.”
Despite all the challenges that he and his team have come across - including the unwelcome visit of Fox’s during the night who dug into the pitch - Darler says that he is hopeful that they are past the worst of it and that by the end of the week, the final rake-off should be completed.
“We are looking good now to seed the pitch by the end of the week. It has been one of the wettest May’s on record so it has certainly been a challenge as you don’t expect this kind of weather at this time of the year.
“This should be complete by Friday and then it will be about waiting 8-10 days for germination, before we start getting the liquid feeds onto the grass and then hopefully in about three weeks, we will be doing the first light cut.
“That will give us about another three weeks before the team are back playing on it, so we are cutting it fine but in all my years doing this job, this has only been the third complete maintenance job we have done, so we have invested in the pitch and it definitely needed doing.
“We should see the benefits next year and I have no doubt that the past few weeks will be worth it.”
The Club would like to thank premierturfing.co.uk for their support throughout the process of renovating the Abbey Stadium pitch.