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Groundsman Explains Recent Challenges

8 February 2016

After Saturday’s postponement, we caught up with Grounds Manager Lee Williams to discuss how challenging his job has been recently as a result of the unprecedented weather conditions.

Lee said: “I’ve never known the rain to be as relentless as it has been this season in all my 17 years as a grounds man.
 
“It’s always upsetting when games are postponed, but no more so for me and my team who have worked their socks off for hours on all the pitches, only to be confronted with the wet conditions on training and match days.”
 
Last season, due to the hard work of the team, Lee was highly commended and came in the top three for Grounds man of the Year in League One.
 
This is the second time he has achieved this accolade, having previously won it in his first spell with the football club in 2011. 
 
Before rejoining the club in 2014, Lee worked for Sherriff Amenity, providing help and advice on the playing surfaces at Oldham Athletic.
 
“The current Desso pitch is beyond its expected life span by three or four years, but because of the way we’ve looked after it over that time it’s retained a good quality,” Lee explained.
 
“The real issue we have is the top three inches of the playing surface. Below this level, the drainage is as good as it’s ever been.
 
“Unfortunately, pretty much all our match days both first team and youth team over the last three months have fallen on torrential weather days. 
 
“This has further compacted and damaged that top three inches. We’ve even had an agronomist down from the Sportsturf Research Institute to provide an independent view and further advice looking particularly towards next season.
 
“For now, we have to find a way of managing it through to the end of this season. This has  already involved opening up the top layer by putting thousands of holes down to a depth of four inches and spreading around 29 tonnes of medium/coarse sand into those to open up the link to the good lower drainage.
 
“It’s a huge job and my team worked tirelessly at the start of last week to get this work carried out. 
 
“The one thing we cannot control is the timing and volume of rainfall. At last weekend’s game it was raining constantly from 6pm on Friday evening all the way through to the moment the referee made his decision to postpone the game, with more heavy rain forecast. 

"Unfortunately for us, the referee has to make the decision and it went against us which was devastating for us all considering the amount of work we put into it.
 
“I hope this explanation goes a little way to giving supporters an insight into the challenges we are facing and I would hope next season I could get us into the top three for Pitch of the Year for a third time in my time with the club, which is always my aim.”
 

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