While West Ham United's players take a well-earned summer break, the Club's groundstaff will be busy ensuring that the pitches are in perfect condition come the start of pre-season training.

Head groundsman Dougie Robertson (pictured) and his team have already started work on relaying the pitches at Chadwell Heath, Little Heath and Rush Green, while the Boleyn Ground playing surface will be replaced next month.

Robertson said the hard work would continue until every pitch is ready for use ahead of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign.

"We started relaying the pitches last week," he confirmed. "The manager [Sam Allardyce] moved first-team training to the stadium and that gave us an extra week of preparation time, repairing and preparing the pitches for next season.

"We began with the first pitch at Chadwell Heath in mid-April, removing the existing vegetation and then re-sanding and re-seeding the pitch. The grass on there is now up to an inch-and-a-half in height so we will start slowly reducing that and keep watering it every day.

"We started on the other pitches at Chadwell Heath last Monday [13 May] and finished on Wednesday by seeding them. In ten days time, we'll see some grass coming through and can get it ready for pre-season. These remaining pitches will be given back to the first team at the end of July.

"The squad goes away to Ireland in the first week of July and then come back and train on the first pitch we stripped off, so the times marry in. They will all have the required rest period."


While Sunday league football is often played on pitches that can resemble ploughed fields, Robertson and his team utilise ultra-modern methods to ensure their playing surfaces remain in perfect condition throughout the season.

"We use a product called Fibresand which has horse hair in it, which strengthens the root zone of the grass and helps to stabilise the pitches. This gives us a whole season's worth of play. We put down 18 to 20 bags of grass seed per pitch and these will continue to grow over the summer."

Aside from relaying pitches, Robertson and his staff will be doing all manner of maintenance jobs at the Club's training complexes, including the new Academy facilities at Rush Green and the Boleyn Ground.

"The groundstaff will be working seven days a week now until the players come back. We need to redecorate the buildings and strip the pitches off on every site and we start at the stadium on 17 June after the very successful corporate events have finished. It's a very busy time.

"We took on Rush Green last year, which is a 29-acre site used to train youngsters aged 14 and 15 and for Under-21 matches. It's been a lot of extra work successfully added on. The first year of the Elite Player Performance Plan has had good results.

"The Boleyn Ground pitch has been fantastic this year. We got off to a bit of a slippery start with the wet summer last year, but we more than fixed that and the pitch has been fantastic all year. We've had great feedback from West Ham and from the opposing teams, so I'm very pleased.