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29th September 2023

Stoke City Football Club turn to Air2G2 and Raycam Uni-Rake for perfect pitches

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Stoke City Football Club turn to Air2G2 and Raycam Uni-Rake for perfect pitches

With the advancements in turf technology and hybrid pitches the scope for improvements has been considerably narrowed, and Stoke City Football Club head groundsman, Andy Jackson, has turned to the GT Inject Air2G2 and Raycam UniRake to target his marginal gains.

It is Andy’s responsibility to provide Stoke manager, Mark Hughes, and his squad the perfect pitches across the Clayton Wood training ground and bet365 Stadium. Constantly striving for excellence and improvements has seen Andy delve deep into his maintenance plans and the Air2G2 and UniRake are an essential part of those programmes.

“We’ve got to a point where the pitches are getting better every year and you’re looking at yourself and thinking what can we do to improve,” Andy began. “It’s getting harder and harder because with the attention to detail you’re down to one or two per cent of improvements.

“To pinpoint that small amount to change is quite hard, whereas 10 or 20 years ago when the Koro FIELD TOPMAKERÒ came out you could drastically improve your pitch, but now it’s the small things that are making the big difference.

“We once dreamed of using technology like the Air2G2 15-20 years ago, and for me it’s going to be really good with the Desso construction pitches in preventing any compaction around the undersoil heating pipes and the lower profile.”

“There’s no other machine we can use to do that job around the pipes,” he explained. “I feel comfortable with it, it’s pedestrian mounted and there’s no weight on the pitch, it’s easy to use and you can aerate using varying amounts of air.

The UniRake has also joined Andy’s arsenal of machines, and whilst not as sophisticated as the Air2G2, the UniRake’s adjustable grooming intensity has made it a firm favourite at Stoke for regular pitch grooming and for use during renovations.

Andy explains the role the rake plays in-between training sessions, helping to remove organic material from the surface whilst leaving little to no evidence it’s been used.

He said: “We looked to the UniRake to improve our maintenance operation on the Desso constructed pitches and to take some of the weaker grasses out. This is because the pitches get quite thick before the end of the season, but we also use it during the renovation as well, and It’s been a huge success for us.”

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