The Massey Ferguson Sports and Social Club in Coventry, close to where the iconic tractors were once produced, is a reminder of Britain’s great manufacturing heritage. But these days it also fulfils the important role of a community resource as well as providing leisure facilities for employees of AGCO, the multinational giant that purchased Massey Ferguson in 1994.
This five acre ground hosts cricket and football, with non-league soccer played on its floodlit pitch and a junior academy for young players. A full size cricket square has 12 strips and a synthetic pitch for juniors.
Bob Stretton, who has been Head Groundsman at the club since 2006, explains: “The site is owned by Persimmon Homes, which purchased Massey Ferguson’s Banner Lane factory, and is leased back to the Massey Ferguson Sports and Social Club. But it is also available for the community – three local clubs hire the football pitches and three clubs play cricket here. The turf gets lots of hammer and needs a full-time Groundsman.”
Since Bob has been at the club, there has also been a concerted programme of machinery investment; one of the most important purchases made has been a SISIS Maxislit. “The club is situated on a clay plane, and the clay is just 6-8in below the topsoil in places,” explains Bob. “When the water table rises in winter, it can be a struggle to get rainwater through the surface.”
Chosen to alleviate compaction and consolidation, the Maxislit also helps to move water through the soil profile through the winter sports season, helping to dry out the surface. With a working width of 1.8m it makes light work of multiple pitches and comes with a choice of tines. “Slitting also gets air into the soil profile, keeping it in good condition, and encouraging growth when temperatures rise in the spring,” comments Bob.
He has enjoyed a long relationship with SISIS over his 25 year career as a groundsman. “I purchased an Auto Rotorake and a Tru level roller for another club, and was impressed by the products in the range – I always felt they were superior to other brands. The Massey Ferguson Sports and Social Club were happy to be guided by me, so we chose SISIS when it came to buying a slitter. The Maxislit played a key role in Bob being recognised by the F.A when winning the national Groundsman of the Year award in 2008-9 for levels 5-6 by keeping my pitch playable”
“Over the years I have purchased a number of pieces of equipment from SISIS for other clubs including Auto Rotorakes, Auto turfman & combination frames to name a few”.
“I have the option of a brush or roller fitted behind the slitting tines to lift the grasses or firm the surface, and the pitch can be back in play a day after slitting. I tend to use it on a Monday after the Saturday game, mow the next day and the pitch is ready for the next match on Thursday, but I have used it on Friday and the pitch the pitch is in use the next day.”
The Maxi slit’s 3 point linkage is ideal for his 40hp MF1540 compact tractor, and Bob notes that the combination is an ideal size for sports fields.
“It’s important to match the machinery to the facilities that you are looking after – SISIS offers a bigger machine in the Megaslit, but that would be more suitable for golf fairways etc.”
He expects the Maxislit to last a significant length of time: “It could last 20 years as it’s so well made, from the powder coating to the fabrication. That said it is important to look after any machinery, and replace any worn parts promptly. I have enjoyed an excellent relationship with SISIS over the years, and know I can rely on them for parts, service and support.”