The next department in our 'Shining a Light On...' series is the club's Grounds department!
Ever wondered how our pitch looks so good?
The Memorial Stadium Grounds department is led by Ben Ford, who has been with us for more than five years, having previously worked up the road at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.
The club’s Grounds department consists of five members of staff in total. Ben is joined at The Mem by Luke Bayliss, while The Quarters training ground team is led by Daryle Sullivan and assisted by Olly Louch and Martin Rendall, better known as “Mozzy”.
The team is lucky to be further supported by a group of matchday volunteers, who are key to ensuring the stadium is properly maintained. They carry out a number of important roles, ranging from applying frost sheets in the winter to carrying out matchday repair work before and after each game. A huge thanks to the following volunteers for all their support and help through the years: Mark “fluff” Faithful, Roger Perkins, Bob Vines, Adam Young and Nathan Wiltshire.
There’s a lot more to being a Groundsman than just cutting grass! Believe it or not, a lot of science goes into it behind the scenes. The Grounds team have the funds to conduct an entire pitch renovation at the end of every season – you may have seen the timelapse footage on our social media recently.
This process consists of removing all of the organic material (grass plant) across the whole pitch (yes, the entire pitch is dug up), then a new pitch is built from seed. This is done to ensure pitch levels and drainage are correctly maintained to a very high standard.
The Grounds department is responsible for ensuring the pitch is tailored to the manager’s requirements. This includes everything from the height of cut, pitch dimensions, firmness, and a water regime to allow the team to play quick passing football. They ensure the grass plant is kept as healthy as possible through fertilisation and aeration maintenance so that fans can enjoy our aesthetically-pleasing pitch.
Before matchdays, the players train on two pitches identical to the stadium, in terms of pitch profile, giving them the benefit of consistency. As you can see by this year’s results, it pays off!
Being a Bristol Rovers Groundsman is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. They often spend six-days-a-week at the club and take great pride in what they’ve achieved. They are all truly dedicated to the club, but Luke Bayliss has taken it one step further with a permanent reminder of his pride and joy, the Bristol Rovers pitch, tattooed on his arm!