A statement on behalf of Rochdale AFC, Rochdale Hornets RLFC & Denehurst Park (Rochdale) Ltd (the Stadium Company).
Officials of Rochdale AFC, Rochdale Hornets RLFC and the Stadium Company have agreed to commission a report on the Spotland pitch by Dr Stephen Baker of the Sports Turf Research Institute. Dr Baker is recognised as a leading expert in his field and will assess the Spotland playing surface next week.
November and December witnessed record rainfall in Rochdale and the flooding that hit the town centre and local areas resulted in the town being declared a disaster zone and the clean-up is ongoing. The graph below shows the record rainfall last month with three times the average falling during December.
The weekend of January 9/10th was also a very wet weekend but the weather relented sufficiently to allow the referees of both Rochdale's fixture against Chesterfield and Rochdale Hornets' game against Salford Red Devils to declare the playing surface fit for both games to go ahead.
In the week leading up to the Chesterfield and Salford game, the ground staff had the drains in the Sandy Lane half of the ground jetted and additional work was carried out on the drains by the ground staff. Our pitch contractors were also consulted. Both clubs' officials recognise the very good work carried out by the ground staff in very difficult conditions.
Following the Chesterfield and Salford games it was obvious to officials and the ground staff that the Pearl Street half of the pitch had coped well with both games despite the very wet conditions but the Sandy Lane half of the ground had deteriorated by contrast. The Spotland pitch does have a standard camber and the main drain does run the length of the pitch under the running track in front of the Willbutts Lane stand. We have 5 metre lateral drains that run across the pitch from the main stand to the main drain on the Willbutts Lane stand and linking the lateral drains are sand slits at half metre spaces, which create a fishbone effect of the drains. The main man-hole is in the corner by the Willbutts Lane stand/Sandy Lane Terrace.
By agreement between Rochdale AFC and Rochdale Hornets RLFC, and through and with the support of the Stadium Company, there has been significant investment over the last 10 years in the Spotland pitch. A complete new drainage system was installed and this was complimented with a bespoke irrigation system to service the pitch. Fibresand pitches have been introduced and laid over a number of years now to achieve a first class surface for both sports clubs to compete on.
Dr Baker will look to assess the pitch on Tuesday and his brief in the short term will be to look at the contrasting conditions between the two halves of the pitch and make recommendations to see us through to May ahead of our summer pitch maintenance program.
If there is any work identified by Dr Baker this will be carried out immediately by our ground staff and contractors if appropriate. The main part of Dr Baker's brief will be to review our long term options and make recommendations for our main summer pitch program to ensure the Spotland pitch is returned to the excellent condition that we have witnessed in recent seasons and prior to record rainfall.