Pitch debate at City rumbles on

AS sure as night follows day, so spring sees the annual debate about the state of the pitch at St George’s Lane.

It is a discussion which usually comes down on the side of the surface not being good enough and hampering Worcester City’s attempts at passing the ball.

This season has seen similar criticism, with manager Carl Heeley not happy with uneven bounces and suggestion from some quarters that Michael Taylor’s shot struck a divot before catching the post against Stalybridge Celtic last Saturday.

Such remarks are not without foundation — the ball does deviate erratically and players from both sides are sometimes made to look foolish through no fault of their own.

Yet, it is worth pointing out that the pitch is in better nick than it was 12 months ago. A lot of money — around £3,000 — was spent on a new irrigation system, while the club also sought advice from The Institute of Groundsmanship.

It is still far from perfect, a situation not helped by a delay in sourcing parts to get the watering system working at full throttle, coupled with the lack of rain.

There is also the problem of over-use.

As well as 21 home games each for City and tenants Evesham United, there have been cup matches for both teams, a host of junior fixtures, while all of the Worcester and District League cup finals will be staged there.

RGS Worcester and King’s, Worcester, also play their annual fixture tonight.

That workload has taken its toll but it’s a catch 22 situation for the Blue Square Bet North club. More matches see the pitch deteriorate but the club cannot afford to turn down the vital revenue hiring it brings in.

Ironically, City will find the same problem when the leave the Lane next year and have to ground-share themselves.

Director Mike Davis, one of the driving forces behind attempts to improve the surface, accepts the dilemma but believes the efforts of last summer are reaping their rewards.

“I am convinced it has worked,” he said. “Last year, we spent about £8,000 on end-of-season renovation and we won’t have to spend anything like that this year because there will be more grass left on the pitch.

“That cost will be reduced tremendously, owing to the fact there is a regular fertiliser programme and it was regularly watered during the summer into early winter.

“We have got a lot of grass on it compared with many clubs at this level and I overheard an ex-director on Saturday saying he had never seen so much grass on there in March.”

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement given the sandpits of previous seasons but Davis and groundsmen Tom Allcut and Paul Humphries are certainly making progress.

Davis added: “It’s frustrating for Tom and Paul, they are tearing their hair out because the amount of wear is in excess of what a football pitch should have.

“You watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night and look at the Premier League pitches and they’re all green. But they won’t have played on it for a fortnight and don’t have teams sharing so I think the lads have done really well.”

Comments (6)

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12:56pm Wed 28 Mar 12

Ex-Worcester boy says...

I suggest they sell the "lane" and get a new ground. Problem solved. Oh yes think thats happened
I suggest they sell the "lane" and get a new ground. Problem solved. Oh yes think thats happened Ex-Worcester boy
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Wed 28 Mar 12

zx12r says...

The only problem with the City's pitch is 'overuse'. It was when I was the groundsman there in the late 80s/90s. They play on it, train on it, reserves played on it, youth team played on it, then any Tom, Dick or Harry could have it for Micky Mouse Cup finals.
The only difference now is remove the reserves & implant Eversham Utd. Nothing changes & never will.
The only problem with the City's pitch is 'overuse'. It was when I was the groundsman there in the late 80s/90s. They play on it, train on it, reserves played on it, youth team played on it, then any Tom, Dick or Harry could have it for Micky Mouse Cup finals. The only difference now is remove the reserves & implant Eversham Utd. Nothing changes & never will. zx12r
  • Score: 0

1:02pm Wed 28 Mar 12

PhilGS says...

I am the consultant head groundsman at Galatasaray FC in Turkey and also the pitch consultant for the Azerbaijani FA.

Whilst visiting home a month ago on a break (I live in Malvern). I popped into see Tom and the guy's at the club (we met via Facebook) to look at the pitch.

Whilst I agree that the money spent on the pitch has been a worthy investment and that the grass coverage on the pitch was not 'too' bad considering the amount of play received. I do think that the club need to plan to continually progress the pitch on a year upon year basis. Planning to counteract wear with proven and reliable maintenance techniques.

Just because £8K (I could spend this in a month at Galatasaray) was spent last year does not mean that 'this' year money can be cut.

I would plan to update the maintenance equipment in the short term. What you need to do is continually build a strong and dense playing field, progressing this year upon year. The staff must have the correct tools at their disposal. If not, continuing and worsening conditions prevail.

Whilst and irrigation system and a regular feeding regime is important there is only so much this will help toward improving and maintaining standards. It is a misnomer to compare the club to any non-premiership pitch that we see on TV. Of which, most all will have an extensive range of the most up-to-date machinery, undersoil heating to encourage growth through the winter, light rigs to replicate sunlight and highly trained personnel.

The club need to further invest in their pitch maintenance staff - even more critical here as they simply do not have the technology at the club that can be deployed to compensate for wear. Good and proper management is an essential element.

It is vital that these guy's know how to compensate for wear received and employ suitable techniques to balance input (wear) with output (growth). They need tools to do this!

Personally, I would look at introducing rules on pitch use when hiring it out, rules for the type of warm up allowed and rotation of goal mouth use - Protecting the goal mouth is vital of you want fair and smooth ball roll during 1st team matches!

I would look at the fee's paid by third party users. What percentage of this should be saved and used to help recover the wear and damage imparted on the surface?

There is no easy way around it, reduce play or ask third parties to compensate toward damage to the pitch. Of course what makes this all the more essential is that football is a 'Winter Sport' played intensely during the winter, when, of course, grass does not naturally grow!
I am the consultant head groundsman at Galatasaray FC in Turkey and also the pitch consultant for the Azerbaijani FA. Whilst visiting home a month ago on a break (I live in Malvern). I popped into see Tom and the guy's at the club (we met via Facebook) to look at the pitch. Whilst I agree that the money spent on the pitch has been a worthy investment and that the grass coverage on the pitch was not 'too' bad considering the amount of play received. I do think that the club need to plan to continually progress the pitch on a year upon year basis. Planning to counteract wear with proven and reliable maintenance techniques. Just because £8K (I could spend this in a month at Galatasaray) was spent last year does not mean that 'this' year money can be cut. I would plan to update the maintenance equipment in the short term. What you need to do is continually build a strong and dense playing field, progressing this year upon year. The staff must have the correct tools at their disposal. If not, continuing and worsening conditions prevail. Whilst and irrigation system and a regular feeding regime is important there is only so much this will help toward improving and maintaining standards. It is a misnomer to compare the club to any non-premiership pitch that we see on TV. Of which, most all will have an extensive range of the most up-to-date machinery, undersoil heating to encourage growth through the winter, light rigs to replicate sunlight and highly trained personnel. The club need to further invest in their pitch maintenance staff - even more critical here as they simply do not have the technology at the club that can be deployed to compensate for wear. Good and proper management is an essential element. It is vital that these guy's know how to compensate for wear received and employ suitable techniques to balance input (wear) with output (growth). They need tools to do this! Personally, I would look at introducing rules on pitch use when hiring it out, rules for the type of warm up allowed and rotation of goal mouth use - Protecting the goal mouth is vital of you want fair and smooth ball roll during 1st team matches! I would look at the fee's paid by third party users. What percentage of this should be saved and used to help recover the wear and damage imparted on the surface? There is no easy way around it, reduce play or ask third parties to compensate toward damage to the pitch. Of course what makes this all the more essential is that football is a 'Winter Sport' played intensely during the winter, when, of course, grass does not naturally grow! PhilGS
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Wed 28 Mar 12

PhilGS says...

Of course above, I meant Premiership, not 'non-premiership'
Of course above, I meant Premiership, not 'non-premiership' PhilGS
  • Score: 0

1:34pm Wed 28 Mar 12

Up the City says...

In the short term the club should try everything possible to get some water on the pitch. At least this would kill the bounce and bobble which is making football so difficult. It would be shame if the pitch is the reason we don't make the play offs.
In the short term the club should try everything possible to get some water on the pitch. At least this would kill the bounce and bobble which is making football so difficult. It would be shame if the pitch is the reason we don't make the play offs. Up the City
  • Score: 0

2:03pm Wed 28 Mar 12

CityBlueBoy says...

The club dont train on it anymore, the only games on there are the first team and evesham, so next season it will just be City 1st team !!
The club dont train on it anymore, the only games on there are the first team and evesham, so next season it will just be City 1st team !! CityBlueBoy
  • Score: 0

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