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Grounds for optimism - part two

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

The pitch at White Hart Lane this season has caused Grounds Manager Darren Baldwin more than a few sleepless nights.

The deteriorating surface has not assisted the team in their precision football and with the games coming thick and fast with the cup runs there was little time for Darren and his team to carry out any meaningful remedial work.

But there are mitagating circumstances that led to the playing area not remaining in the best of conditions as the season progressed, as Darren points out.

"Absolutely, we've suffered massively this year and there are several reasons why things went wrong," he pondered.

"The pitch is six years old, 1996 it was re-seeded. It was a reconstruction and not a complete new pitch.

"What I mean by that is if you dug down the existing pitch at WHL three inches you'll still find soil there that was there in the seventies and eighties. It was an adjusted pitch and route zone in 1996, it wasn't a completely new top like what we're doing now.

"We did spend a lot of money on it then, we had a good pitch there and it's just lasted its lifespan."

The England international against Holland in August also cost Darren vital time in preparing the pitch for this term.

"Maybe it should have been done last summer, but with having the England game there in August, arranged last February, that was probably one of the reasons why we didn't go to town on it last year.

"Maybe we've suffered a bit by not doing that, but hindsight is a great thing.

"It cost me an extra couple of weeks. We could have stripped the top layer off last season, but with having England there, comes England training and Holland training, a pre-season game plus the first game of the season. In eight days we had five activities on the pitch.

"What people don't often quite understand is that training sessions do more damage than a game. England's training session was quite intense and did a fair amount of damage.

"These activities all add to the deterioration of a pitch and, unfortunately, we got off to a bad start.

"It is worth mentioning again, that the enclosed environments of modern stadia do not assist with prolific grass growth."

While England against the Dutch might have caused Darren a few headaches, he hopes the new surface- which originates from Holland- will provide the long-term cure.

"The Desso Grassmaster has been around in this country since 1993, the route zone we're putting in is the key element. It is a new one that was first introduced at Liverpool last year, I've been there twice this year and I shall go back in the summer. I view their pitch as the best in the country.

"It may be that we go out to Holland to have a look at one of the first ones put in and have a look. It is just a case of keeping up to date."

By Richard Hubbard