The work never stops at the Banks’s Stadium. Whether you are in the office or among the coaching staff, the summer is often as busy as any time during the season.
That is especially true for groundsmen. The summer is the opportunity for those responsible for the upkeep of EFL football pitches to start from a clean slate - quite literally, ripping up and starting again.
And at the Banks’s Stadium, head groundsman Paul Mason and assistant Todd Harrison have been working tirelessly to get the Banks’s Stadium playing surface ready for our first home pre-season friendly on July 18, when Aston Villa are the visitors to WS1.
Once the final match of the 2016/17 season had been played, Paul and Todd set to work on preparing the pitch for the 2017/18 Sky Bet League One campaign.
“The pitch at the end of the season was sprayed off with an all-round killer which kills the grass off completely,” said Mason.
“Then we scrape the top off. We try not to take off too much of the soil because this soil is a fibre-sand, which help to hold the roots in the ground. It’s expensive to replace that.
“We scrape it back as bald as we can so the seeds have every chance of growing.
“There’s lots of different types of seeds, but this one is Limagrain MM60 which is actually used on Arsenal’s pitch. So hopefully we can play like Arsenal this season!
“Normally it’s between 5-11 days for grass to shoot through but with the right conditions you can see it sprout in five or six
“We’re pleased with how it’s grown. With the fertiliser we’ve just put on, the grass will hopefully double."
Indeed, the pitch at the Banks’s Stadium is already starting to bloom under the summer sun - and Paul is confident it will be in perfect condition ahead of Villa.
“We’ve got a sand-based pitch so the fertiliser and nutrients can go through quick,” he added.
“You have to make sure there’s enough for the plant. It’s just a constant level of feed in there and we’ll be cutting it three times a week - you’ll be surprised how much cut-off grass we have!
“From the rip-off, where we take the top off the pitch, it’s eight weeks to the first friendly. It’s close but we’ve done it in the past so weather-permitting, we should be okay.”
The pitch at the Banks’s isn’t the only surface Paul and Todd look after, however.
“People say ‘oh the season’s finished so you’ve got nothing to do’ but we try to help put the new signs up, and we run the training ground too,” said Mason.
“The teams are coming in to do extra training this summer so we have to get it done for that, and for the training ground we have to improve on that and make sure it’s good for when they come back to training again.
“We have to rush between places at times but I suppose this is the most enjoyable time as it’s the big challenge.
“But we enjoy it through the winter as it’s a challenge. We lost one last season but we’ve not really lost many games to rain.
“It makes you feel good when you keep a game on - that’s the enjoyment part. If you manage to keep a game on and we win, it’s all the better!”