New pitch for Town

SOME people are on the pitch, they think it's all over . . . It is now.These famous words might also apply to the famous Portman Road playing surface after thousands of music fans were dancing on the pitch at Friday night's REM concert, writes David Vincent.

SOME people are on the pitch, they think it's all over . . . It is now.

These famous words might also apply to the famous Portman Road playing surface after thousands of music fans were dancing on the pitch at Friday night's REM concert, writes David Vincent.

The pitch is disappearing, temporarily.

Now a military-style operation is clicking in to remove and replace the pitch in just three days under the control of the Ipswich Town's award-winning groundsman Alan Ferguson.


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The Scot was at Portman Road to supervise as the metal plate flooring covering the grass for the concert was removed and last season's turf was lifted and carted away using a machine brought in especially from Holland.

There were tractors on the Tractor Boys' pitch, in tandem, with the Sisavator machine slicing up and dropping the turf into trailers to be towed away.

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It is enough to make gardeners who tend their own lawns weep, seeing hundreds of square metres of highest-quality turf being chopped up and removed.

But after a long, hard football season and two pop concerts it is time for a change.

And Ferguson is responsible for providing Joe Royle's team with the best possible surface to play football on as they aim for another promotion challenge.

He has won nine awards since his time at Town and recently turned down a move to the new Wembley Stadium to plan and install the playing surface.

Town's new 102 metres by 62 metres pitch has already been grown, at a secret location in East Suffolk, and the turf will be cut for transporting to Portman Road.

Time is tight because the pitch must be ready and at its best by next Tuesday, July 19 when Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers visit in a prestige pre-season friendly.

Ferguson, a Rangers fan who worked at Ibrox before moving to Suffolk nine years ago, said: “It is ideal weather for it.

“It will take three to four days altogether.

“It is a big operation. We have 500 tonnes to come off before we lay the new pitch.”

The turf rolls will be delivered and assembled in position in the next couple of days and then regularly cut and watered.

And the first ball will be kicked on it when the whistle blows at 7.45 pm a week tonight.

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