INSIDE SAFC: Head Groundsman on Caring for a Pitch

Glenn Campbell is the head grounds person for SAFC and on Monday the 29th of April, one of Cottam’s T- level Students (Aaron) went to interview Glenn and ask him about his role and how Cottam’s brushes help in his day-to-day activities. This is what Glenn had to say 

How does SAFC Head Groundsmen, Glenn Campbell, care for the pitches?  

General care: 

Glenn and his team care for 10 pitches across SAFC – nine full size and one junior pitch.  

Each pitch is cut regularly with frequency varying depending on the weather. Some pitches are cut every other day with others being cut every day, at this time of year. Using a Dennis mower, it can take one person around two hours to cut a pitch. The Dennis is predominantly used on the first team pitch and occasionally on any of the other nine pitches. Glenn also uses the practice of boxing off on the main pitch.  

The brushes are used to get the grass to stand up and get rid of dew. They are also used to disperse worm casts which is essential to protect the pitch. Worm casts are a risk as they can overtake the plateau of the pitches making it impossible for machinery to perform.  

 Perfect Pitch:  

A lot of things go into making a perfect pitch for a training session or match day. Glenn described, when asked his top tips, outlined the following…  

  1. The grass is brushed to keep it stood up which improves the presentation of the of the pitch as well as removing any debris.  
  2. The pitches are fertilised frequently to maintain the health and appearance of the pitch. Without frequent fertilisation, the pitches will see slow growth, poor recovery after damage (such as grass being pulled up by studs), and grass may be unsightly. The sand-based pitches are fertilised every week and soil based every 4 weeks.  
  3. Pitches should be irrigated when necessary, taking care to not over irrigate. At SAFC “we try to irrigate during the night as we are self-sufficient with water.” SAFC only water pitches during the day if there is training on as the “players like it slick” when playing. Watering during the day isn’t ideal on a hot, humid and windy day you tend to lose lots of water to drift from the wind and a lot evaporates due to the sun which means you need more water.  
  4. The grass should be cut regularly. Regular cutting keeps the grass healthy as well as giving it a good appearance. It is important when cutting the grass to change the direction of the cut to ensure a clean cut.  

After play:  

Match play leaves debris as a result of general match play and players’ studs. Brushes are put in the Dennis machines and used to clear the pitch, or they use the rotary cut to clean the pitch. Glenn explained that the maintenance is adapted based on gameplay and weather. Techniques may change week to week and, depending on weather, the clean-up may have to wait until the pitch has dried the following day. Weather plays a large part in what machines and techniques are used following the games.  

The Dennis machines’ brush was measured by Cottam in order to spec out for a replacement. This brush brushes the grass up going ahead on the field which gets any debris out from the below the surface, the back end of the Dennis machine then follows with it’s rotary cutter to cut the grass down. 


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How have you found working with Cottam?  

They have been good – “the main thing is everyone is just sticking to a budget and if there is a cheaper way to get things done without the sacrifice of quality, then so be it.” Cottam provide the most cost-effective brushes for this industry.  

The brushes provided by Cottam have not been any different to the manufacturers’ version meaning they blend seamlessly into the running of the machinery and do not lower the quality. Allowing for a long-term, cost-effective solution. 

Credit: Blog researched and written by Aaron Mills and Anna Tripcony, T Level Students from Sunderland College completing their work experience with Cottam

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