While many areas of a football club are somewhat quieter over the summer close-season, there are others for which planning and preparation continues at a fairly lively pace.
And one such department at Wolves is of the groundstaff, who preside over the renovation work not only of the coveted playing surface at Molineux but also no fewer than eight pitches at the Compton training ground.
It’s a meticulously planned programme including the use of different contractors to ensure that both the necessary training pitches were ready for the players’ return last week and also that Molineux will be in tip top condition for the home pre-season friendly against Celta Vigo on Saturday, August 2nd.
Head Groundsman Wayne Lumbard explains how!
He says: “It all started for us with the first training pitch on April 22nd and from there we worked on one to two pitches per week up until Molineux was seeded on June 1st.
“The players reported back on June 25th so in that short space of time all the pitches were up and ready and raring to go for the start of the new season.
“With the pitches we take all the green vegetation off, spike it, top dress it and seed it and all of the pitches are then turned over and laser-graded and renovated to the maximum.
“We have to ensure we have one guaranteed for the players to train on when they return.
“It’s a very busy for us and once the contractors have gone after putting the seed into the ground we have normally got six weeks to get the pitches playable and that can be a 24-7 operation.”
With both the main Compton training pitch and Molineux now produced to the same specifications there is an excellent link between the two surfaces to give the players the best possible opportunity to take the work from the week into a successful conclusion on a Saturday.
Both remained in excellent condition throughout last season thanks to the efforts of the groundstaff.
Lumbard adds: “Kenny (Jackett) and Joe (Gallen) have had 12 months with us now and have been very happy with what we have produced for the players and better than anywhere else they have been before.
“The training ground pitches are now in even better condition than they have before and Molineux is really coming on well now.
“That was the last one to be seeded and we’re still a few weeks away from the first game but it’s looking good.
“We were pleased last season and coming into March or April the pitch was looking as good as it did in August and September and this year we will be striving to get even better again.”
And it wasn’t just the coaching staff, players and supporters who recognised the excellent surface at Molineux last season.
The groundstaff as a whole have been nominated for the Professional Sports Grounds Team of the year award being run by the Institute of Groundsmen, with the winner announced at their annual conference at MK Dons in December.
“It’s nice to get that recognition with the nomination and for it to reflect on the whole team of groundstaff as well which is what it is all about,” added Lumbard.
There has been one change to that team heading into the new campaign, with former deputy head groundsman Paul Matthew having returned back home to Scotland after three years at Molineux.
“I would like to thank Paul for all of his work over the last three years and everything he brought to Wolves after his time at Rangers,” said Lumbard.
“He made a massive impact in our team.
“We now have a new deputy in Anthony Parker who has worked with us on matchdays for the last four or five years and is also deputy head groundsman for Shrewsbury Schools.
“We are looking forward to him joining us next week.”
*Here's how Molineux was transformed from the final day of last season to how it is now...