Hard work just beginning for ground staff at Priestfield

Gills Head Groundsman Tony Provan says he is ready for a busy close season, with work having already begun at both the training ground and at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

Provan has been working at the club now for nearly two years and has been putting preparation in place since March, and speaking to the club website earlier this week described exactly what is happening in build up to the new season.

He said: “We’re not going to be as intense as we were last year; we’re just going to be taking the top of the surface off. We’re going to use the koro to take off between five and 10mm and that will be consistent through the pitch.

“This is to eradicate all the divots and the bobbles that appeared during the latter part of the season.

“We’ll be getting 80 tonnes of the same material we had last season which is medium sand which is compatible with the pitch and the drainage and once we even that off it will be a level playing surface.

“We will then be seeding the pitch with MM60 grass seed which is the same as we had last season. We are going that way because the wear tolerance and structure of the pitch was really good but it got to the point where we had a few games on it and this time around we have established what we need to do.”

Tony was asked if there is ever a danger that a groundsman can do too much work in search of a perfect pitch.

He said: “Yes and no really, sometimes you can do too much work and not give the pitch enough time to settle. Every week I will be fertilising it and watering it which will help the germination and once that comes through we will be cutting it in different directions and maintaining general practices in build up to our first game.”

At Beechings Cross Tony revealed the materials being used to prepare the surface.

“At the training ground there is a 70/30 soil/sand mix,” he said. “70% sand will help the drainage and the 30% of soil will help with the germination with a bit of moisture content.

“There is 240 tonnes of that being dropped off and then we’ll get the levels back and ensure there is a flat playing surface and it’s ready to go for the new season.

“Haydn Lawrence will be overseeing proceedings at Beechings and I will be split between the two as the work progresses.”

Having a break before the work begins would not have helped as he explained:

“That way it gives it more chance to establish; it gives the root more structure and gives the plant more strength. The longer you leave it the grass isn’t as strong and it wouldn’t tolerate the wear as quick.”