Dave Saltman gives his monthly update on the state of the pitch
Shrewsbury Town’s Head Groundsman, Dave Saltman, admits that a very wet winter has made for a couple of very challenging months for the ground staff.
High precipitation levels and huge snowfall has led to the water table rising and has caused the surfaces to become saturated.
“It’s certainly been one of the more difficult winters in terms of precipitation”, Dave told ShrewsWeb.
“It just seems be incessant. We get very small breaks before the next storm comes through. We are just trying to get the training ground dried out and then we get another downpour of rain that puts pay to it for another couple of days.
“But, we can’t do anything about the weather. It is January and with a bit of luck in another five or six weeks spring will arrive, but you can’t count on that either and I’ve known spring arrive at the end of April, so it is what it is.
“We are losing grass and there’s no recovery, so everything is about damage limitation. We will try and aerate and get the water through the surface as quickly as possible, but there’s also a lot of games coming at us.”
Dave has been involved in football for many years and he can’t remember as much rainfall as this in recent years.
“This weekend we had 22½mm, which is nearly an inch of rain”, said Saltman.
“The team have been training on the stadium pitch since before the West Ham home game because they are now struggling to use the training ground when they need to.
“They trained on the pitch on Friday prior to the game on Saturday and they trained on the pitch prior to the game on Tuesday, so it’s not ideal but everyone’s just got to muck in and get on with it because we can’t change the weather.”
Despite the issues, the stadium pitch is still playing well compared with many in League One and Saltman is pleased with how it has stood up to the elements.
“It’s still playing very well and the drainage is fine on the stadium pitch”, said Dave.
“Apart from losing grass cover, I don’t see there being any big issues with us getting the pitch through the season. We had our mid-season score and we were well above the average. I think the league average is 3.93 out of five and halfway through the season we are on 4.13.
“This pitch has fared better than most in the division. We haven’t got the money that two or three clubs have got, we haven’t got lighting rigs and undersoil heating, we haven’t got a bit grounds team, but make the best of what we’ve got with the resources we’ve got.
“When you look at the pitches in League One and Two and even some in the Championship and a couple in the Premier League, they are really struggling and they are struggling because it’s been a very wet autumn and a very wet winter.”