Twenty-six groundsmen from parish councils and football clubs in Cambridgeshire attended a workshop to help them keep their pitches in great playing condition over the winter months.
The workshop was organised in partnership between Cambridgeshire Football Association, Cambridgeshire Cricket Board, Cambridge United FC and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG). The event was held at Cambridge United FC’s Abbey stadium and led by IOG regional pitch advisor, Danny White. Cambridge United stalwart and recently named IOG Unsung Hero of the Year, Ian Darler, was also on hand to share his expertise and experience.
Darler had prepared sections of the Cambridge United pitch utilising different equipment and techniques to show the groundsmen the effects and merits of each procedure. Equipment was demonstrated and groundsmen were shown the difference even relatively simple procedures such as the drag brush and pivot fork can have on the quality of the pitch.
The group was also provided with an insight into the soil structure and the importance of root depth coupled with an aeration programme. Cores from all four corners were taken and the compaction and grass height inspected demonstrating how sections in sunlight or shade behave differently.
Partners of the FA’s Pitch Improvement Programme, Charterhouse and Rigby Taylor, were also on hand to discuss their products as were Fleet Line Markers and Barenbrug. The evening ended with a question and answer session and attendees enjoyed hearing some amusing tales from Ian Darler’s 37 years’ experience as groundsman at Cambridge United.
Joanne Bull, facilities and participation manager at Cambridgeshire Football Association, said: “It was encouraging to see so many groundsmen at the event and the feedback from them has been excellent. Ground maintenance is clearly very important to local clubs. We hope to assist them further through the Pitch Improvement Programme.”