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💬 Clive Pring: "We are just trying to change the soil profile a little bit by adding as much sand to it as we can."

Exeter City's estates manager talks through the pitch renovation at Cliff Hill training ground

21 May 2019

Clive Pring, estates manager at Exeter City, says the work being done on pitch one at the Cliff Hill training ground is to help it become a better surface for the players to train on all year.

It is the first time in 10 years that the pitch has had work done to it.

“We are doing a bit of sand amelioration and putting some new draining lines into the first team pitch,” explained Clive.

“It is similar to what we did at the stadium last year. We are just trying to change the soil profile a little bit by adding as much sand to it as we can. We are dealing with soil-based pitches but we are just trying to change the way they play and the way that they feel by introducing as much sand as possible.

“What has happened with pitch one in the past is that when we have got to the wetter months the pitch acts like a soil pitch.

“So, although it won’t have surface water, there will still be water in the profile so it becomes very soft. The players prefer a firmer surface which is why they will go in and use the 3G.

“What we are hoping with more sand content at closer to the surface, it is going to feel like a different and harder surface to what has been there before and hopefully it won’t be affected as much by water being held in the profile because there has not been much we have been able to do about that in the past.”

Clive says the work will not be finished in time for the first day of pre-season, but that does not concern him as they have another good grass pitch available at the Cliff Hill.

“This pitch won’t be ready for the first day of pre-season,” he said.

“However, we are in the lucky position that we have a decent surface down the bottom, which we call pitch two.

“It is the one next to the 3G surface that was done last year, which they will do all their pre-season on and pitch one will be ready, probably, by the start of the season.

“It is good that we now have two grass pitches and one artificial surface that they will share their training around over the months of the season so they are not wearing out one pitch completely.”

There is also work being done at St James Park. However, thanks to a renovation last summer, it is a smaller project this time around.

“We have been in there the last few days with a fairly basic renovation, which we are doing in house,” said Clive.

“It is a deep scarification of the surface to try and pull out as much of the rubbish that we don’t want in there so that we can get some better seed back into the surface. We have got a quick turnaround on that one as it is only eight weeks again until they want to play a pre-season game in there.

“So it is going to be slightly easier for us to manage next year because some of those grass species are going to be in their second year so they are going to be hardier plants. It was very fresh and young when we started the season last year because it had only been there for nine or 10 weeks.”

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