Barry O'Brien, Heads Grounds Person for Burnley FC, discusses his experience collaborating with Barenbrug to find grass seed solutions. With a mission to help improve Burnleys playing surfaces, Barry discusses how Barenbrug grass seed can help with colour presentation, disease tolerance, recovery and wear tolerance.
"My name is Barry O’Brien, and I am the Head Grounds Person with overall responsibility for the management of the Gawthorpe Training Ground and Turf Moor Stadium with the support of my Deputy James Blackburn and 12 additional ground staff."
Talking about some of the issues Burnley faces, he says "The Training Ground lies in the shadow of Pendle Hill, six miles to the north, an isolated Hill within the Pennines with its summit being 557 metres above sea level. The location attributes to many turf growing problems, with some days experiencing all weather seasons in a 24-hour period along with low light levels. Winters can be very challenging with misty damp days and lack of good sunlight.
Gawthorpe Training Ground was originally built around the 1950’s but the complex went through a total rebuild including the pitches some nine years ago. The complex is very busy, offering training facilities from the first team down to the pre-academy, so the pitches receive a lot of play. The Turf Moor stadium also brings its own issues with location and usual stadium environment with low light levels." he explains.
In 2021, Barenbrug stepped in- "Barenbrug discussed with me the idea of looking more closely at the seed I was using during the annual renovations and how selecting appropriate cultivars could help towards improving the playing surfaces, through better wear, colour presentation and better disease tolerance. Reduced light environments around the complex is a major factor, especially during the winter months.We had used another seed provider for the last few years and so was not too aware of Barenbrug. However after discussing the background to the company, I was impressed by the product development and continuous R&D supporting the products".
Barry goes on to explain how Barenbrug assisted him and his team with these issues:
"We looked at Elite Sport and the cultivars within the mix and what they could bring to the table in helping us get our pitches to an even higher standard. The major factor was the high wear tolerance and recovery the varieties could offer. Another football club had mentioned they were impressed with the colour given by one of the cultivars in Barcristalla, which contributed to our decision to use Barenbrug’s Elite sport.
A decision was made to jump straight in and overseed all the Gawthorpe Training facility. After that, all the pitches were renovated during the summer of 2022 and to date I have been very pleased with the overall performance and presentation of the playing surfaces. As we move into the more critical period of the season with very low light levels, continuous damp conditions will provide a good test going forward and with David telling me there are even more cultivars to be released on the horizon we are keen to work together."