Andy Spetch is the volunteer groundsman at Bury St Edmunds RUFC and has been involved with the club for 27 years. He took up the role as volunteer groundsman 8 years ago when he stopped playing rugby.
Under his remit are three full size pitches, six acres of mini pitches for ages 6 to 12 and a three quarter size all weather 3G pitch. He is supported by a team of ‘Old Boys’, as he calls them, eight mostly retired volunteers who help out in busy times.
“The first part of my action plan,” he says, “was aeration, and to champion it we hosted an ‘IOG In Action’ day at the club, focusing on Verti Draining, which helped convince the committee it was a worthwhile activity. Whilst I now use a contractor for deep tine aeration, we purchased a slitter so we can apply surface aeration on a regular basis.”
He made it clear to the committee that it was vital they purchased quality seed because before this they were using mix and match, poor quality seeds. From his experience, and IOG courses, Andy knew he needed to use some kind of Perennial Ryegrass and a proper amenity mixture to provide the establishment and results the club wanted.
It helped that in his day job (Andy is National Top Soil Manager for British Sugar) he goes to a number of exhibitions like BTME and Saltex. Through these shows he got to know Roger Peacock of DLF/Johnsons Sports Seeds. Roger suggested Pro-Master 80 from their Masterline range as it was an ideal mixture for the renovation of worn playing surfaces and represented unbeatable value.
It establishes rapidly and the inclusion of Double 4turf™ tetraploid perennial ryegrass in the mixture provides a hard wearing turf with excellent colour and disease resistance.
This was sown in Mid-May and showed rapid establishment. The irrigation system they had installed around the ground helped to get the seed going and the following weather provided perfect growing conditions. “It starts with quality seed,” he says, “and then it’s all down to the maintenance regime to provide proper aeration, irrigation and never being mowing lower than 2½ inches. Doing that has protected and preserved the playing surface. I’m also intrigued to see how hardy Masterline Pro-Master 80 will be through the winter.”