Town bid to beat freeze

IPSWICH Town groundstaff are working round the clock in order to beat the big freeze which is threatening tomorrow's home clash with Watford.With the full force of the snow blizzards, moving south-east from Siberia, expected to hit East Anglia over the next 72 hours, the Blues' Championship match is under threat.

By Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town groundstaff are working round the clock in order to beat the big freeze which is threatening tomorrow's home clash with Watford.

With the full force of the snow blizzards, moving south-east from Siberia, expected to hit East Anglia over the next 72 hours, the Blues' Championship match is under threat.

Alan Ferguson, the Town's head groundsman, is confident the pitch will be playable, after work on protecting the surface from the freeze started last Friday, but other factors may cause problems.


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Ferguson said: “We have the covers on the pitch at the moment and that has done its job.

“The forecast is horrendous and we have seen on the satellite pictures of the snow coming across Europe and heading our way.

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“It has not been too bad so far, my friend at Middlesbrough tells me they had five inches of snow to contend with.

“We will be blowing the bubble on Monday and Tuesday and, if the weather drops below freezing, we will turn on the warm air blowers.

“We were given good warning about the impending weather and were prepared. We have been in all day working on making sure the pitch will be ready.”

The main problem is more likely to be the approaches to the Portman Road stadium, if the weather is as bad as forecast.

Ferguson said: “We have adapted machinery, which usually spreads sand, to use rock salt and all the areas around the ground are clear at the moment.

“What snow there has been, has been melted away and we will continue to work on that.

“The main priority is safety and, if the weather freezes areas around the ground and a bit further out, then it will be down to the police and the ground safety officer to decide if it is safe.”

The Blues' players will today prepare for the Watford game at their Playford Road training centre and Ferguson has ensured they have good pitches to practice on.

The award-winning groundsman said: “We cancelled all other games over the weekend and rolled the pitches on Friday.

“There are no ruts or problems so the first team should be able to train as normal.”

The Portman Road pitch has been voted the best playing surface in the country but, unsurprisingly, is showing signs of wear, although nowhere near as bad as some Premiership pitches, such as Goodison Park on Saturday, where Manchester United beat Everton in the FA Cup.

Ferguson said: “These are our worst couple of months and, added to the amount of fixtures we have had to cope with, it is not as good as it can be.

“That said, it is still in pretty good condition and there is a good grass covering, which helps even if it does cut-up underfoot.

“The good thing is it will soon recover once the good weather returns and we get some sunshine.”

The Ipswich Town Reserve game at Carrow Road on Wednesday is also under threat but a decision will not be made until the day of the game.

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