Pitch battle on two fronts

Dale Frith
Dale Frith

Fleetwood Town groundsman Dale Frith knows he’s got his work cut out preparing nearly half a dozen pitches for the start of the new campaign.

Town stripped their pitch at Highbury last week, the new surface seeded on Friday.

But Town’s matchday surface isn’t the only matter award-winning groundsman Frith has to deal with this summer.

Graham Alexander is expecting to move into the club’s new training centre at Poolfoot farm in 30 days time.

That means Frith and his small team have as many as five jobs on the go at any one time.

The Highbury turf guru knows it’s a one-off situation but admits his staff are busier than most.

Indeed he’s hardly got time to stop and talk as Town’s players and management team enjoy their summer break.

“There’s a misconception that because the games are finished this is the quiet part of the season,” he joked.

“But for the ground team there’s a lot going on.

“It’s not just us - we know there’s a lot going on in the ticket office but we’re all really busy.

“This is our busiest time .

“It’s not just the renovations at Highbury this year but the work going on at Poolfoot as well.”

Town have been planning their move to Poolfoot for nearly a year.

The first phase of the project - a 4G artificial pitch is already up and running - in use by both the Fleetwood team and the general public.

Now it’s up to Frith to bring the elite training pitches online, before attentions are turned to surfaces for community use at the £6.5m complex - due to be fully open by December.

“It’s two jobs in one, maybe more, “ said Frith.

“It’s multiplied no end because we’re not just looking after a pitch here and one at Fylde rugby club.

“We’ve got four pitches worth at Poolfoot and that’s going to multiply further.

“There’s a lot of work down there and we know we’re going to be busy all summer.”

With the grass stripped off, Highbury is far from a green and pleasant land.

But Frith knows it won’t be long before next season’s pitch starts to appear.

He said: “We took the top of the pitch on bank holiday Monday, that’ll get rid of any rubbish, any organic matter to help keep it clear and help the drainage out

“We seeded on Friday and we’re hoping by next Friday it’ll be green again.

“People will go away this weekend and come back and find there what looks like a pitch there again.”

Town are expected to announce their home pre-season schedule in the coming weeks.