ESSMA Members enjoyed an interesting and successful Pitch Workshop in Leicester: day 1 highlights
The two-day Pitch Management Workshop in Leicester City FC’s King Power Stadium and Training Centre brought together ESSMA Members to learn, network and knowledge-share on all aspects pertaining to pitch management, from pitch renovations, tools & technologies, to player injury management, budget control and managing events.
Storied industry experts imparted their wisdom throughout the event, including Leicester City FC’s John Ledwidge, Simon Gibson and Callum Allsop, Arsenal FC’s Head Groundsman, Reece Watson, Manchester City FC’s Head Groundsman, Lee Jackson and the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) CEO, Geoff Webb and Head of Member Services, Dan Prest.
Day 1 highlights
First industry expert of the day to expound the virtues of good groundsmanship was LCFC’s Grounds Manager, John Ledwidge. Ledwidge is regularly voted one of the top 5 most influential figures in the Turf Care sector. His key points were about the long term pitch improvement he defined for King Power Stadium, his “Little Green Book of Doom” and the importance of having a proper Pitch Management Plan in place.
“At LCFC, we meticulously plan and record our day-to-day activities. Each member of the team has a valid and valuable input to the team and its operation, and I feel this is important to the success of our department. The key elements are the timings of operations and knowing their importance. Sometimes ‘not’ doing something is just as crucial as knowing when to. Reinforced- and natural pitches are similar in management, it is more dependent on the construction of these pitches that dictates how intensely you manage your fertilizer programs and operations.”
John Ledwidge - Head Groundsman LCFC
Reece Watson, Head Groundsman of Arsenal F.C., underlined several topics including tools & technology, talking tech and the content of his kit bag. Describing the works undertaken at Emirates, he detailed how during the last closed season they had completed a full reconstruction of the pitch – a 13-week process – which included removal of the rootzone, installation of undersoil heating, the stitching in of the Desso GrassMaster and grass seeding.
Watson advised that the time period from seeding to the first game was just 4.5 weeks. He also detailed the restrictions and particular challenges of their Central London location, which is surrounded by buildings, meaning that they had to come up with innovative solutions, such as placing ducting and stacker boxes around the pitch to access sprinklers, and the like.
“Keep your eyes open! Technology from different sectors can help us do our jobs more effectively and efficiently. It’s time to innovate!”
Reece Watson - Head Groundsman, Arsenal Football Club/Emirates Stadium
The final presentation of day 1 was given by Callum Allsop, LCFC’s Head Groundsman, about managing day-to-day operations in terms of management meetings, operations, site usage and LCFC’s Monthly Maintenance Plan.
“Communication, responsibility, record-keeping, flexibility, education and development are the key aspects to running this 7-day-a-week facility.”
Callum Allsop - Head Groundsman LCFC
After the educational presentations, there was a special behind the scenes tour of LCFC’s Belvoir Drive training facility, with John Ledwidge, Simon Gibson and Callum Allsop providing invaluable insights. At the end of the tour,
Campey Imants showcased some of their equipment present at the training centre.