Galpharm groundsman on how his team keep Huddersfield Town and Giants playing
Jan 20 2010 By David Lockwood
IF THE recent winter whiteout has been a pain for the general population, spare a thought for those whose job it is to prepare sports grounds in what have been the most trying conditions for more than 30 years.
One such man is Phil Redgwick, who next month celebrates his seventh year as head groundsman at the Galpharm Stadium, and whose responsbility it is to ensure that Town’s football matches and the Giants Super League games go ahead without any glitches.
"The biggest problem recently for us has been struggling to get the tractor onto the field to work on it because of the saturated surface – and the actual weight of the machine," explained Redgwick.
"It has not just been the snow and ice over the last five weeks, but that was preceded by the wettest November on record, and over the last two-and-a-half months we’ve just gone from rain to snow.
"So it’s just been a case of getting onto the pitch when and where we could, and we did have one or two problem areas in the middle."
As far as Redgwick and his staff are concerned (there are three full-time groundsmen including Phil) the snow and ice have not proved as destructive as say the rugby union pitches at Lockwood Park and YMCA’s Laund Hill, because at least the Galpham is equipped with under-soil heating, but that alleviates only one part of the problem.
"Yes, the under-soil heating prevents the snow from taking a hold and takes the frost out of the ground, but our main weapon is the Verti-drainer which serves a multitude of purposes.
"Basically it punches holes into the pitch, roughly 12mm diameter and two inches apart, which as well as helping making the water drain away, also aids aeration and improves root structure.
"We start rolling out straight after a game, and then continue during the week, but it is very time consuming.
"Ours is quite an old machine, which still works very well, but it’s perhaps a bit slower than more modern equipment. In fact it is a two-day job doing the whole of the Galpharm pitch.
"The biggest danger is falling asleep on the tractor, as it takes 10 minutes to do one strip which measures 1.2m wide. You could virtually walk at the side of the machine doing other jobs, if it wasn’t for turning it round at the end of each strip."
The Galpharm has staged the equivalent of 33 matches since the start of the football season, plus some training sessions, and the rugby league season gets under way in a couple of weeks.
"That will be fun with the Giants taking on Bradford Bulls with an 8pm kick-off on the Friday night, followed by Town playing Carlisle at 3pm the following afternoon," said Redgwick.