By Madolyn Sushames
A month before the AFLW Grand Final, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan walked across the oval at Brighton Homes Arena to meet with AFLQ Grounds Maintenance Manager Chris Dalton and was chuffed with what he saw.
A slab of turf was peeled back while a sprinkler valve was being repaired.
“He felt just walking across it that it was going to be ok so I took him down to show him the slab of turf and he saw the root system on it which had only been down about a week or so which was already four inches long so he said I reckon you could get this up,” Chris said.
“He asked if it possible and I said yeah it’s possible and then it was locked.”
It was all hands-on deck from that moment to get the ground grand final ready.
“A couple weeks out it was starting to get a bit too thick because the turf we laid was quite aggressive, so we had to thin it out but then you don’t want it too thin because we knew the turf was basically a dead surface, so we top dressed to firm it up and level it all out. “
“A week out it was just brown with all the leaf bruising from the top dressing and the heat, so I was a bit nervous that weekend,” Chris admitted.
“We just kept feeding it and concentrating on developing the roots system through the good fertilisers we were using.
“Pretty much every greenkeeping technique there is we had to do to get it back healthy again and feed it up to present it half decent.
“I’m proud I was able to do my part but happy it’s over,” he laughed.
Chris said it all came together the day before the Sunday 27th November grand final.
“When I went in the Saturday morning to mow the field, all the fertislier we’d been putting out there just seemed to kick in, the grass had started to come through the sand and I thought it’s going to be ok,” he said.
Less than two months earlier, it was a very different story.
“The turf was laid in mid-September and at that stage I thought there was no chance,” Chris said.
However, thanks to the team’s hard work they made it happen.
“We’ve done other resurfacing jobs in the past for other clubs but nothing this scale,” Chris said.
Chris started out as a greenskeeper on golf courses and worked at The Gabba and the Brisbane Lions before joining AFL Queensland in 2005.
His team also offers support to all the community football clubs in Queensland.
“We’re always there if clubs need advice or we can deal with council on behalf of clubs,” he said.
“If they’re doing a resurface, we can work with clubs and help them get some pricing.
“We’re available to all regions if they ever need to reach out for a bit of advice or even just looking over pricing.”
Contact Chris on email@example.com