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Rochdale Fc gets re-constructed.

Rochdale Football Club

End of season renovation work and installation of sand slit surface drainage

Project outline

Spotland Stadium is home to both Rochdale Football Club and Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Club. As such the pitch takes a hammering every year with little respite all year round. Added to this Rochdale lies in the wet North West of England and the problem is multiplied.

Despite constant improvements over the last few seasons by Head Groundsman Phil Collinson the pitch was not draining rapidly enough following heavy rain placing fixtures in jeopardy. This was being causes by the heavy nature of the soil despite heavy sand amelioration over a number of years. The budget was not available to totally rebuild the pitch with a free–draining rootzone so the decision was taken to install a system of sand slits at ½ metre centres to improve connection from the surface to the existing drains.

At the same time the pitch would be koro’d off with the Field Top Maker and fibre sand ameliorated into the upper profile. Prior to minor surface levelling and overseeding.

All this would have to take place as quickly as possible after the last game of the football season as there was only a 7 week window before the first league match of the season.

The works

Rochdales F.C’s last game was Saturday 15th May, Bancroft Amenities had tractors on machinery the same night ready for a prompt start on the Sunday. Unfortunately a few hours into the project on the Sunday the heavens opened and works had to be suspended for 3 days whilst the weather and soil conditions deteriorated this was lost time that could be ill afforded given the tight schedule.

By the Thursday operations were in full flow, koroing work was completed and sand slitting began with an intensive system at 0.5m centres with 2/6mm gravel overlaid with med/coarse sand. This work took 4 days to complete, working well into the evenings and over the weekend.

Following this 200 tonnes of Mansfield Fibre sand was spread on the surface and ameliorated into the profile taking care not to compromise the new sand slits.

Unfortunately the pitch could not be laser levelled due to cost but minor surface level improvements were made prior to seed bed preparation, applying pre-seed fertiliser and overseeding with Blec Turfmarker.

Works were completed on Thursday 26th May leaving Phil and his staff only 5½ weeks from seeding to his first rugby match. With favourable weather, skilful encouragement from the groundstaff and plenty of nutrients being applied the pitch was just ready for the first match.

The pitch looked a picture from the stands but was obviously not as well established as Phil would have liked, with 26 strapping rugby players tearing about there were obvious concerns. However, the pitch stood up well and continued to improve over the next few weeks despite regular games of rugby.

By the time the football season started the pitch was well established and works have proved successful as the surface drains much more freely. The pitch is standing up to the rigours placed upon it.