Having tackled the Beast from the East and Storm Emma to ensure Saturday’s clash with Luton Town went ahead at the Abbey Stadium, Groundsman Ian Darler recounts an eventful last week and thanks those key people involved.
We always work with a 10-14 day weather forecast in advance of any game. For example if we expect heavy rain we can put an aeration program together to reduce the risk of waterlogging, or if a heat wave is forecast we can build up the moisture levels. However on Wednesday 21st February, I could see from the long-range weather forecast that the Beast from the East was on the way, and the very low predicted temperatures meant that we had to be very organised and ready for a battle with the weather.
The decision was made to get the frost sheets on the pitch early on Thursday 22nd February and seal in what warmth was in the playing surface. But before that we had run to the mowers over the surface and get marked out to ensure we were match ready. This was followed by a light application of liquid feed for the turf as we knew the surface was likely to be starved of light and could suffer if the covers were on for nine days.
The volunteer troops that have helped me now for three decades were called in and along with a number of the CFU volunteers, including of course the new apprentice groundsman, we set about getting the sheets laid and pegged down. We constantly monitored the temperatures for the next few days and all was going well until 28th February, when overnight high winds ripped the pegs out the sheets, lifting them off the ground allowing the -11 frost with wind chill to penetrate into the turf.
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