Securing Football League status is an historic achievement and for Sutton United Football Club in south London, it led to a £550,000 pitchworks investment in the club’s home ground.
This includes a new hybrid pitch and irrigation solution from Reesink Turfcare comprising a SRC Ranger control system and Toro sprinklers.
FA regulations stipulate that 3G artificial pitches are not fit for purpose in Division Two and above, which is why Sutton United made an urgent review of its existing 3G pitch and lined up leading sports pitch specialist, Agripower, to make preparations for a full install in the downtime between the 2019/20 and 2021/22 seasons.
Jerry Anderson, director at Agripower, comments: “We were given a conditional order in May 2021 as the club edged towards promotion and remained on stand-by with a view to removing the existing 3G pitch and replacing it with a hybrid alternative in the narrow window between seasons.
“Once the club had confirmation of its promotion to the Football League we started immediately, deploying a five strong-team working full-time between the end of May until early August. It was a quick turnaround!”
Agripower installed a hybrid pitch system which comprised of high-grade natural grass. Once the old system had been removed, the pitch was rebuilt with a hybrid carpet over a base rootzone, with the carpet infilled with a similar rootzone before seeding.
Supporting the hybrid pitch was a comprehensive Toro irrigation system, which comprised of a network of 350m of ring main pipework, 200m of lateral pipe, 16 value in head Infinity sprinklers and eight B series in-pitch sprinklers in the field.
Jerry continues: “We used the new SRC Ranger control system, which has scheduling capacity for up to 100 stations and web-control, along with Toro Infinity sprinklers on the outside of the pitch and Toro B-Series sprinklers on the infill.
“As well as a new pumphouse and pumps, a match pitch of this kind also requires a higher water flow rate which is why we installed wider diameter pipes and manual watering points for localised watering. It’s particularly useful for high-impact areas such as the goalmouth or when clubs like to slick-up the playing surface at half time.
“The Toro irrigation system is very good and we particularly like the fact that the Infinity sprinklers are top-serviceable, minimising disruption to the hybrid carpet. We have also been impressed with the on-site support from Toro distributor, Reesink Turfcare, who were on-hand throughout the entire project.”
The new pitch not only validates Sutton United FC’s place within the Football League, but it enables the team to maximise playing time. A grass pitch can generally withstand three to six hours of playing time, whilst its hybrid equivalent can deliver up to 18 hours of play.
Adrian Barry, vice chairman at Sutton United Football Club, comments: “The team at Agripower did a tremendous job replacing our previous 3G surface with a grass pitch in a tight time frame such that we were able to host Football League matches in August. Having an excellent irrigation system is, of course, pivotal to the continued provision of an excellent playing surface and feedback from all users has been terrific in this regard. We thank everyone involved for their support and hard work as Sutton United embarks on this exciting new journey in its history. “