When Huddersfield Giants line up against Wigan Warriors at the John Smith’s Stadium on June 7, they will be treading almost virgin turf.
The hybrid playing surface – a mixture of artificial and natural components – gets a 12-month overhaul and every year for Kirklees Stadium Development operations manager Phil Armitage it is a race against time to get the pitch ready.
Fortunately he has been there since the stadium opened in August 1994 so despite the vagaries of the weather and the playing demands of Giants and Huddersfield Town, the pitch is always in immaculate condition.
Like many major sporting arenas the stadium uses Desso Grassmaster pitches.
These are a completely natural sports grass pitch that is injected with millions of 20cm deep artificial turf fibres.
The idea is that these fibres help to reduce wear on the natural grasses and create a stable playing surface with the grass roots intertwining with the fibres below the surface.
Mr Armitage said: “It’s the usual 12-month summer refurbishment.
“We look at the Desso fibres and get them standing upright again. The thing that has been against us this year has been the weather.
“We began after the Bank Holiday on May 5, after the football season had finished, and it took an extra day because the weather was poor.
“Since we did that work, the weather has not been good to help us grow the grass.
“Obviously we have a commitment to the Giants and they will play their first match on June 7.
“By then the grass will be through and growing nicely and after that match we will see if there are any patches that need reseeding.
“At the end of last year, on December 28, we had to scrape the ice off the pitch for a Huddersfield Town match and that didn’t do it any good but it has recovered since then and it is looking very good today.
“I have been here 21 years now and since then I have had to learn how to work with the weather! The key thing is: ‘Don’t panic!’ We have about a month to turn the pitch around from the end of the football season so that’s quite a short time.”