After severe waterlogging caused five fixtures to be cancelled during the 2016-17 season, the soil-based pitch at Accrington Stanley FC’s Wham Stadium was reconstructed to improve drainage and ensure year-round playability. But it is the pitch’s ongoing fertiliser and maintenance regime which have given head groundsman Martyn Cook the confidence that his pitch has the requisite attributes to remain in good condition season after season.

Martyn Cook has looked after Accrington Stanley’s Livingstone Road pitch for the past 14 years, during which time he’s battled against severe waterlogging as a result of the field’s soil-based construction. During the 2016-17 season things had got so bad that a total of five matches had to be cancelled: at the time the club was in League Two, but its promotion to League One in April 2018 meant a re-think was needed to ensure minimal disruption to the following season’s fixture list.

The pitch was therefore reconstructed in May 2019 by Danvic Turf Care who installed a gravel raft pitch with rootzone and conventional lateral drains and a new sprinkler system. The pitch was seeded using Germinal’s A20 Premier Ryesport mixture (a blend of four high quality perennial ryegrass cultivars). Paul Moreton of Germinal also devised a FACTS (Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme) approved fertiliser plan for the new pitch’s grow-in period.

“The new pitch established very quickly despite being seeded six weeks later than usual,” Martyn explains. “I was watering the pitch up to four times a day during that summer’s warmer spells, but we also saw a decent amount of rainfall which helped immensely in allowing the newly established seedlings to grow away rapidly. It grew so quickly in fact that its first cut (at 45mm) was done just 14 days after seeding, after which I gradually reduced the cutting height by 3mm week on week until the start of the season.”

With the new sward safely established and the new season underway, Martyn worked with a third-party consultant who recommended a liquid based fertiliser programme to feed the pitch during the autumn and into the following year.

“To be honest, it was a bit of a disaster,” Martyn explains. “I’m a team of one with a very limited amount of machinery and no grow lights or undersoil pitch heating at my disposal, so I rely heavily on contractors to do anything other the most basic of day-to-day operations. That meant it was tricky trying to ensure the pitch was fed at the right time.

“I therefore contacted Paul Moreton to see what he recommended, and he subsequently devised a bespoke fertiliser programme based on the pitch’s current nutrient requirements and soil analysis results.”

The new fertiliser plan uses a selection of Germinal’s slow release granular fertilisers which provide 90% of the sward’s nutrients, with the remaining 10% being supplied by intermediary liquid feeds.

“I can apply the granular feeds myself with a pedestrian spreader that Paul supplied and only need to get outside help whenever a top-up liquid feed is needed,” A new training facility is being developed away from the Wham Stadium, but until that is up and running, Martyn needs to balance the pitch’s needs against a heavy fixture list and training requirements.


After severe waterlogging caused five fixtures to be cancelled during the 2016-17 season, the soil-based pitch at Accrington Stanley FC’s Wham Stadium was reconstructed to improve drainage and ensure year-round playability. But it is the pitch’s ongoing fertiliser and maintenance regime which have given head groundsman Martyn Cook the confidence that his pitch has the requisite attributes to remain in good condition season after season.

Martyn Cook has looked after Accrington Stanley’s Livingstone Road pitch for the past 14 years, during which time he’s battled against severe waterlogging as a result of the field’s soil-based construction. During the 2016-17 season things had got so bad that a total of five matches had to be cancelled: at the time the club was in League Two, but its promotion to League One in April 2018 meant a re-think was needed to ensure minimal disruption to the following season’s fixture list.

The pitch was therefore reconstructed in May 2019 by Danvic Turf Care who installed a gravel raft pitch with rootzone and conventional lateral drains and a new sprinkler system. The pitch was seeded using Germinal’s A20 Premier Ryesport mixture (a blend of four high quality perennial ryegrass cultivars). Paul Moreton of Germinal also devised a FACTS (Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme) approved fertiliser plan for the new pitch’s grow-in period.

“The new pitch established very quickly despite being seeded six weeks later than usual,” Martyn explains. “I was watering the pitch up to four times a day during that summer’s warmer spells, but we also saw a decent amount of rainfall which helped immensely in allowing the newly established seedlings to grow away rapidly. It grew so quickly in fact that its first cut (at 45mm) was done just 14 days after seeding, after which I gradually reduced the cutting height by 3mm week on week until the start of the season.”

With the new sward safely established and the new season underway, Martyn worked with a third-party consultant who recommended a liquid based fertiliser programme to feed the pitch during the autumn and into the following year.

“To be honest, it was a bit of a disaster,” Martyn explains. “I’m a team of one with a very limited amount of machinery and no grow lights or undersoil pitch heating at my disposal, so I rely heavily on contractors to do anything other the most basic of day-to-day operations. That meant it was tricky trying to ensure the pitch was fed at the right time.

“I therefore contacted Paul Moreton to see what he recommended, and he subsequently devised a bespoke fertiliser programme based on the pitch’s current nutrient requirements and soil analysis results.”

The new fertiliser plan uses a selection of Germinal’s slow release granular fertilisers which provide 90% of the sward’s nutrients, with the remaining 10% being supplied by intermediary liquid feeds.

“I can apply the granular feeds myself with a pedestrian spreader that Paul supplied and only need to get outside help whenever a top-up liquid feed is needed,” A new training facility is being developed away from the Wham Stadium, but until that is up and running, Martyn needs to balance the pitch’s needs against a heavy fixture list and training requirements.


 
 
 
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