BLACKBURN Rovers’ players may be winding down after a gruelling Championship campaign but the hard work is only just beginning for the man behind their pitches.
Head groundsman Steve Patrick and his team are undertaking a £300,000 revamp that will see the Ewood Park playing surface reseeded along with a further seven pitches at the club’s senior training centre and academy in Brockhall.
The work began as soon as Rovers’ first team and junior sides completed their final games of the season – and it will now step up a gear after the new seeds were placed across the Ewood surface at the weekend.
Patrick said: “The seed went down on Sunday and I’m hoping it will be green within the next five or six days if we keep the current conditions. “We’re doing exactly the same on all the pitches at the senior training centre and two of the pitches at the academy.
“The other thing we’ve done at the academy, which comes within the £300,000 that I’ve spent, is a £54,000 irrigation upgrade on the sprinkler system that was first installed when we opened the first facility at Brockhall. It was desperate for an update.
“The rest of the money was spent on the seeds and on the machinery that we need to do the job.
“It is a lot of money so what we try to do is keep the cost down by the doing the job in-house.”
All five surfaces at the senior training centre will reseeded as well as two at the academy.
Once all the pitches are reseeded the Rovers ground staff will sit back and wait for the new turf to grow.
“Then we’ll start cutting the grass again 12-13 days from seeding,” said Patrick, whose long-term ambition is to install under-soil heating on one of the pitches at the senior training centre.
“And once that is done it will be all hands to the pump – aerating, cutting and fertilising as you’ve got to be vigilant for any diseases you get in the new seeding and you've got to make sure it is good enough for Gary Bowyer and the lads coming back to work at the beginning of July.
“They’ll have at least two or three pitches to use before they go on their pre-season tour to Portugal – and it will be the same for the academy.”
And will the Ewood surface be ready for Rovers’ sole home pre-season friendly against Mark Hughes’ Stoke City on August 3?
“It will be absolutely immaculate,” said Patrick, who believes the pitch last season was the best it has been in his 26 years at the club.