Stages over the summerThis week, readingfc.co.uk spoke to our newly appointed Grounds Manager Adam Grantham to find out what happens to the Madejski Stadium pitch over the summer, ahead of the 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship season.
Adam, who is born and bred from Reading, finished school before going to college full time - during which time he spent a year at Reading on work experience at the stadium. He then became full time with the club for a year, then worked at Reading Golf Course before spending 10 years at Hogwood park, originally as an assistant before managing the ground staff at the training ground.
He took over from our previous Head Groundsman Greg Bolton, to oversee both the Stadium and Hogwood Park grounds. Has worked under Steve Coppell, Brendan Rodgers, Brian McDermott and current manager Nigel Adkins.
The pitch is cut right down to a height of approximately 20-22mm. The Verticut units are then used, which thins the pitch and gets the dead grasses out and reduced the build up of thatch. A metal tine rake is then used to go over a few directions to break the top layer up, and is hoovered off with the mowers to get the cleanest surface as possible.
Then this process is repeated twice over.
This stage is devoted to the process whereby the pitch is seeded.
Then we start the aeration process, which involves holes being punched in it with two machines - one drills eight-inch holes and the smaller drills three-inch holes. The aim of this is to ease the compaction of the pitch that comes from the full football and rugby season, the corporate events which totals approximately 75 games (plus three days of six-a-side games).
The pitch is 'top dressed' with 30 tonnes of sand. It helps to embed the seed to protect is and aid germination and improve playing surface levels.
Certain areas of the pitch which are most badly affected are covered, so that the seedlings grow quickly. We avoid covering the whole pitch as this can result in disease.
The final step is to apply a root establisher and a Preseeder application, which helps the seedling germinate.
Speaking to Reading's official website, Adam said, "It's been good, an exciting challenge looking after the training ground for ten years.
"It's been great coming here and looking after both the stadium and training ground - all the lads are working extremely hard. I'm 30 years old and this is my dream job, to be able to showcase what I can do at a stadium.
"We are all now looking forward to the task of the upcoming season."