'This beast of a pitch': Keeping the Green, Green Grass of Wales at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff
Collecting the 'Here and Now' at Amgueddfa Cymru
[image: Lee Evans, the Head Groundsman at the Millennium Stadium]
Lee Evans, the Head Groundsman at the Millennium Stadium
As part of contemporary industrial collecting, Amgueddfa Cymru have been interviewing and recording some of the army of people who work in Cardiff on 'match day'. We've talked to restaurant and pub staff, street vendors and closer to the ground the BBC crews and of course the staff who run the Millennium Stadium. The WRU gave us total access behind the scenes to record their working day.
Here, Lee Evans, the Head Groundsman at the Millennium Stadium, talks about his job.
How did you get started in this type of work?
[image: 'Growlights' over the palletised pitch at the Millenium Stadium]
'Growlights' over the palletised pitch at the Millenium Stadium
My first job when I left school was with Swansea City Council, maintaining the grass pitches in the old 'Morfa Stadium' — now the Liberty Stadium. It was there that I got the bug to become a groundsman.
From there I moved to the south east of England and worked in a couple of private schools including Roedean.
Later I worked in the professional industry — for Fulham football club and Aston Villa F.C. Then, when we were homesick, we moved back to Wales and I came to work here in March 2004.
At the Millennium Stadium I'm responsible for maintaining this beast of a pitch. It was the first palletised pitch in Europe and it hasn't been without its problems — but we think we've solved the majority of these now.
I'm responsible for the maintenance of the pitch when the grass is in and getting it up to scratch for our international matches in football and rugby. We maintain it and then put it back together after the game.
When you bring in new turf how long is it before it can be played on?
[image: The turf staying intact during a scrum]
The turf staying intact during a scrum
In the past, before we had the 'growlights', we used to bring the turf in as late as possible. The reason being that as soon as you bring turf into this environment it just wants to die — it can't survive in here. So we used to bring it in a just week before the game.
The downside of that was the turves did not have time to knit together and to the subsoil. It would just be like a carpet and if the forwards scrumaged on it, it could roll up.
Now with the 'growlights' on the turf, four weeks of light before a game, and the turf will be over 90% stable. That's still not to say that where the joins are, if the forwards get their studs in there, there is a small risk in the first game that the turf will slide back a little. But we are pretty confident that won't happen.
What do you do on a typical matchday?
[image: The pitch gets four weeks of light to ensure it's knitted together ]
The pitch gets four weeks of light to ensure it's knitted together
Matchday is great! It's the highlight of the week I guess. It's the bug of the industry — it's what you look forward too.
If it's a five thirty kick off, we'll cut it matchday morning. We'll mark out matchday morning and then we'll sit back and watch it and enjoy it!
Do pop concerts or events cause you any problems with the pitch?
[image: Half-time inspection at the Wales v Canada game November 2008]
Half-time inspection at the Wales v Canada game November 2008
Well we're lucky here because the pitch goes out as its movable. So it leaves the stadium and I'll take my holidays or have some time off. I don't get to see many concerts!
Article Date: 16 March 2012