Groundsman admits mistakes made

IPSWICH Town head groundsman Alan Ferguson has admitted that mistakes were made when the Portman Road playing surface turned into a virtual ploughed field earlier this season.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town head groundsman Alan Ferguson has admitted that mistakes were made when the Portman Road playing surface turned into a virtual ploughed field earlier this season.

He says that remedial work has been successful and that the newly-laid turf has bedded in well.

So much so that all Ipswich's remaining home reserve fixtures will be played at Portman Road.

“I hold my hands up and admit that we made a mistake,” said Ferguson, who was heavily criticised during the autumn when the pitch cut up badly every match.

The winner of the Championship groundsman of the year award last season, Ferguson went on: “Perhaps we were the best of a bad bunch, but it was probably the poorest pitch we have won this award with.

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“We were pleased with what we achieved compared to other grounds, but not compared to the standards we set ourselves.

“We looked to address that and relaid the pitch. This was okay until hot summer sunshine arrived.

“Within 10 to 15 days of the heat setting in we knew that we had to do something.

“We put a lot of water on to try and sustain the plant, otherwise it was going to burn up in front of our eyes.

“We also put down some more fertiliser to try and kick-start the growing process.

“In hindsight, this was not the right thing to do because the plant was sitting dormant.

“We were feeding and watering a plant that wasn't responding to natural growth.

“If we face similar conditions in the future we will be better placed to handle it.

“The grass that we produce for our pitch is very happy at temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

“But we had temperatures up in the nineties for five or six weeks, and that effectively shut the plant system down so that it was not growing.

“We also had a contamination problem at the ground and adding the two situations together it was too much for the pitch to handle.”

After the Burnley match on December 2, new turf was ferried over from Holland in a fleet of lorries and three games have been played on it since.

“It has played very well,” added Ferguson.

“There has been very little damage and the players now have a stable surface on which to play.

“The corner near the dressing rooms looks different to the rest, but this is superficial and it feels the same and plays the same as the rest.

“There is a work programme organised right through to the spring, and home reserve games starting with MK Dons next Tuesday are to be played at Portman Road.

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