Leigh Sports Village comprises of a 12,500 capacity stadium; a running track with 1,000 seater stadium and 3 training pitches. Offering a high-use, multi-sport facility is “all about the management,” says Head Groundsman Keith Porter, “and the best place to start is with the right grass seed.” The village is home to the Leigh Centurions rugby team and the under 21 squads of Manchester United FC and Blackburn FC. It is also used as a temporary training ground and match base for touring teams in Europe.
Keith has been a stalwart of Johnson’s seed at the stadium for the last 9 years, and before that during his time as a contractor. J Premier Pitch, because of the top rated cultivars in the mixture, has been sown on the stadium pitch and training grounds. “We’ve tried other seeds in the past but those from Johnsons always come out on top” explains Keith. “It wears well, offers better coverage over winter, handles stress well and has good disease resistance. It also has great recovery rates, recovering a lot quicker after use which is vital when sometimes we only have 24 hours after a rugby match to get the pitch ready for a football game.” In August last year Keith applied J Rescue and Pro Master 79, also from DLF, to help prepare the pitches for the winter.
Due to the success achieved with the J Premier Pitch mix, in May this year Keith purchased the new coated option, J Nitro Premier Pitch from Aitkens, to apply after renovation work. The pitch was taken out of use for the full spring renovation but will be back ready for play in as little as 4 weeks. “The J Premier Pitch mix establishes very quickly and handles early play well. The ProNitro option will further enhance this offering improved establishment, stronger plants and cost savings from not having to apply a separate fertiliser. We only sowed the J Nitro Premier Pitch at the beginning of May and 3 weeks down the line, I can’t believe how quickly and strong it’s coming through.”
Because of the large ranges available from DLF and Johnsons, Keith enlists the help of local rep John Hughes to weigh up the best cultivars and mixtures. “The Sports Village is located close to the Pennington Flash meaning we experience rapid temperature dips, so on top of the play demands we need cultivars that can withstand our complex climatic conditions and the J Premier Pitch does that.”
The pitch speaks for itself, Keith gets a lot of positive feedback from players and clubs and teams want to come back to use the facilities. “Bayern Munich were over recently for a Champions League match against Manchester United and they used the pitch and appreciated it so much they asked if they could come back and train again the next day!”