This year’s feast of summer sport cannot have been any better, with three major events coming to fruition, with a mixed set of results for the English participants. This year’s Women’s World Cup came alive and had extraordinary reviews and compliments on the standard of play and sportsmanship.
Although I felt the England team should have beaten the USA, going down on our usually poor penalty taking abilities, the tournament was a great event with all the pitches looking fantastic. This was no doubt due to many of the English groundsmen and British companies who were involved in the preparation and maintenance of these stadia pitches.
One such Brit was Jonathan Calderwood HG at PSG. He was responsible for managing and maintaining several pitches during the tournament.
Jonathan has been working at Paris Saint Germain for five years now and has helped transform the quality of pitches in France.
Congratulations to the U.S. women's national team who held on to defeat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final last Sunday. While the U.S. was shaky in the first half, they came out even stronger in the second. Veteran attacker Megan Rapinoe and rising star Rose Lavelle gave the U.S. two goals to secure the USWNT's fourth world cup title. USA secured its fourth Women’s World Cup title (1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019), now winning twice as many Women’s World Cup tournaments as any other nation.
However, I am sure Phil Neville will be working hard to ensure we go one better and get to a major cup final in the coming years. Women’s football is definitely becoming more popular and the success of this tournament will certainly increase participation in women’s football.
This year’s Cricket World Cup held on British soil has also been an amazing tournament with plenty of exciting games of cricket being played, culminating in two interesting semi-finals between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford and a massive match Australia v England at Edgbaston.
Vic Domain and his staff at the Riverside Durham Chester le Street
Having spoken to Vic Domain HG at the Riverside Durham, Chester le Street, he said the whole experience of the tournament was very challenging and rewarding. He and his team of staff like all the all the other venues, have faced a full-on month preparing wickets for the tournament. However, in general the weather has been very favourable and in the main allowed us to prepare some decent pitches - that on the whole gave something for both batsman and bowler.
Vic and his team prepared three test pitches, 28th June, Sri Lanka v South Africa , 1st July Sri Lanka v South Africa and on the 3rd July England V New Zealand .
England v New Zealand during the group stage at Durham
Not to miss out our very own head of editorial, Steve Gibbs took a day off to watch the Semi Final between England and Australia, with England destroying Australia with a tremendous performance with bat and ball Steve enjoyed the day immensely and was able to follow this unique opportunity with managing to get tickets for the final at Lord’s.
England v Australia semi-final at Edgbaston (pic Steve Gibbs)
Steve said, “It was a real privilege to attend both those phenomenal matches. I don’t think I will ever experience a sporting event anything like that final at Lord’s ever again in my lifetime. I will be reeling for days.
“As well as the games at Edgbaston and Lord’s I was also lucky enough to attend England’s matches at Cardiff and Southampton – and at each venue the pitch preparation was exemplary. Such thrilling contests, where the teams of turf professionals more than played their parts in delivering such great drama.”
The final at Lord's (pic Steve Gibbs)
You can read TurfPro founder, Chris Biddle’s view of the pitch preparations during the World Cup here.
I personally was not able to watch the final as I was working, taking photos at the Ironbridge Brass Band festival, and having no signal meant I was not able to get any info on the game. However on driving home I soon found out that the match had drawn on 241 with a Super Over to be played out to determine the new world champions. I managed to race home and see that final over and see England take that last wicket to become ICC World Cup Winners 2019.
A fantastic achievement for all the players and fans and a great lift for the game of Cricket, I am sure there will be many crickets clubs up and down the country gaining some new players after this incredible cup final.
Finally, we also saw the conclusion of Wimbledon 2019 with two great finals played out at WS19. In The men’s final Novak Djokovic saved two championship points in Wimbledon's longest singles final to retain his title in a thrilling win over Roger Federer. On a Centre Court, with an atmosphere that felt at times more akin to football than tennis, Djokovic won 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3).
As for the women’s final a shock defeat for Serena Williams. Williams had been the pre-match favourite to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title but could not find an answer to Halep's brilliant returning game and movement around the court.
The Romanian's 56-minute 6-2 6-2 demolition of Serena Williams earned her a second Grand Slam title.
After a fortnight of thrilling tennis and lot of long hours worked by the groundstaff, Neil and his team will be glad that the courts and the standard of tennis produced was as expected for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
The grounds are owned by the All England Lawn Tennis Ground plc, and the total area, including the club's car parks, covers over 42 acres with capacity for up to 42,000 spectators.
Neil Stubley, head of courts and horticulture, has fifteen permanent ground staff, that usually grows to twenty-eight during the championships. In total they have, 18 Championships grass courts, 20 grass practice courts, 8 American Clay courts and 5 indoor courts to look after.
The grass courts are in play from May to September (except Centre Court and other Show Courts which are used only for The Championships). All courts are re-lined, rolled and mown daily during The Championships. Court wear, surface hardness and ball rebound are also measured daily.
In fact Neil will be running a grounds seminar at Wimbledon on the 6th -7th August. With speakers from The Queen’s Club and the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), the event is for grounds professionals and those responsible for grass tennis courts. It will cover all practical aspects of grass court preparation, maintenance and renovation as well as nutrition, grass seed mixtures, aeration and rolling, and research. There will also be demonstrations of the autumn renovations.
The seminar is part of a structured approach to the development of tennis grounds professionals, a scheme established between the AELTC, LTA and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG).
The cost is £160 per person for the two days including lunch, tea and coffee and a seminar dinner on the first evening.
For an application form contact the Grounds Department at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Telephone 020 8971 2639 or email ULyn@aeltc.com
There is no doubt that the groundstaff at all these stadiums and venues have done a magnificent job in delivering pitches and playing surfaces of the highest standards for these three major events.
Quite often, the general public, a number of TV commentators and indeed some players rarely have an inkling of what is involved to produce these high-profile playing surfaces.
I firmly believe there should be more televised coverage of the work we do as groundsmen to ensure the wider public have a better understanding of the skills, dedication and the many variables that effect the preparation of top-quality playing surfaces.