Stephen Bache is the head groundsman at Hampden Park; Scotland’s 51,866-capacity national stadium of football. With a busy schedule, he explains how dry-sand topdressing is improving the playability of the famous pitch
With the summer finally arriving, what have you got planned for August?
“The amount of events we have at Hampden Park, with Queen’s Park playing here, concerts and of course internationals; there is always something going on. And that means we are always top-dressing the pitch. We have a Hugh King on-site silo in for the beginning of August and hopefully we’ll get another two or three in during the rest of the year depending on the weather.”
Why is it important to top-dress so often?
“We’re always striving to continually improve the playing surface and top dressing is key to that. As our pitch is 100% natural (ie no fibre reinforcement) the more sand we can get down, we find that it is helping to improve the surface. It’s an ongoing thing but we’re already getting positive comments from the players.”
How does the silo help in this process?
“Because we can get the dry sand down, we can apply more sand which benefits the pitch. The main benefit of the dry sand is that it incorporates into the base of the plant a lot quicker. We can put down a lot more sand and you can’t really tell sand has gone down because it disappears into the rootzone. If the sand is damp, it tends to stick to the leaf of the plant and can be quite difficult to incorporate into the base of the plant.”
How much more sand are you able to apply?
“We’re putting down 50% more sand now, and that helps keep the rootzone clean and algae-free. It helps with the playability and the firmness of the pitch. It has made a big difference. So far we’ve used three silos which is 45 tonnes a time plus we’ve put down 80 tonnes of moist sand a fortnight ago. And that is since February.”
How long have you been using Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand?
“We’ve been using the Washed Dune sand for a couple of years, but we only started using the silo at the start of this year. We were using another sand before that, but it was quite white, so when we spread it on the pitch, you tended to notice it a lot more than the Washed Dune sand. If we had worn areas, they were highlighted. The TV cameras picked up on it more, so the quicker you can get the sand incorporated down into the base of the plant the better. If the sand is dry, that happens a lot quicker.”
How did you find out about the silo concept?
“We order sand through Greentech and they explained that a few golf courses had started using Hugh King silos, so we got one in to try and it worked fantastically for us. Because we don’t have a closed season, we like to top-dress the pitch as much as possible, but if the sand is damp it tends to be more noticeable on the pitch. Plus sand can be messy, so using the silo cuts down on the mess.