Club hopeful of gradual improvement to playing surface
THE Hawthorns pitch has provided grounds for debate in recent weeks but the club are hopeful the hallowed turf will soon start showing green shoots of recovery.
The home game against Liverpool 13 days ago was the 15th time that the pitch had been used in just 11 weeks – compared to only three times in the previous eight weeks.
The make-up of the Desso pitch, which combines natural grass with artificial fibres, means that the surface has, and will, remain stable.
However, the regular usage, coupled with one of the wettest Januarys on record extending into February, has resulted in a thinning of grass in central areas.
Mercifully, the pitch did not seen any action between Victor Anichebe’s second-half equalisers earning Pepe Mel’s side a point against the Reds on February 2 and Chelsea on Tuesday, granting it a brief-but-much-needed breather.
The club’s ground-staff have been exploring all options available to aid the recovery process, although the continued downpours have not helped.
But following Tuesday’s game, The Hawthorns will only host four fixtures in 48 days.
And Mark Miles, Albion’s head of facility operations & development, is hopeful that will lead to a gradual improvement to the playing surface.
“The frequency of first-team, Under-21 and FA Youth Cup matches that have been played at The Hawthorns in recent weeks – with some played in atrocious weather conditions and going to extra-time – means the pitch just hasn’t had time to recover,” said Miles.
“Circumstances also led to a couple of first-team training sessions being staged at The Hawthorns during that period.
“This time of year is naturally the worst period for growth but we’ve been doing everything we can to help the recovery process.
“We’ve taken the unique step of sowing fresh seed in the worst central areas that can germinate in low temperatures.
“We’ve also used grow lights and frost sheets to create warmer conditions and hopefully encourage some recovery.
“The ground staff have pretty much been working around the clock – including coming in on Christmas Day – and we’re hopeful that the work that has been undertaken will lead to a gradual improvement.
“Of course, a change in the weather would also be very welcome!”