Whyteleafe's new 3G pitch fails its first test due to drainage system failure

Wednesday 27th August 2014
WHYTELEAFE officials were left red-faced and fuming after a fault in their new drainage system left their recently-laid 3G pitch unplayable for their derby against Chipstead on Bank Holiday Monday.

The newly-promoted Ryman League Division One South club were left embarrassed when the match was postponed 70 minutes before the scheduled kick-off after their pitch failed its first major test.

The season’s first spell of wet weather also postponed the Ryman League games at Kingstonian (vs VCD Athletic); Metropolitan Police (vs Hampton & Richmond Borough) and Worthing (vs Horsham).

A club statement said: “
Examination of the drain at the bottom (Railway) end of the ground, where the drainage channels feed to soakaway beyond, revealed that there simply wasn't the expected volume of water leaving the pitch and heading safely away. Inevitably therefore the rainwater was simply building up on the surface of the pitch.

“There are several theories as to why this happened the likeliest being that a residue from the rubber crumb (an essential part of the structure of 3G pitches) built up below the surface and that this meant the rainwater failed to penetrate to the drains below.

“Ordinarily this residue would wash through steadily over the months after installation but the deluge of rain experienced on Monday caused an unexpected accumulation.

“The matched was called off by the referee at 13.50 as the pitch did not appear to be improving, the rain was still falling and due to fall heavily for the remainder of the afternoon. It was agreed that player safety was paramount.

“Following a site visit and close investigation by the pitch installation contractors in the afternoon of Tuesday 26 August, an explanation for the drainage failure has been given.

“The rubber crumb mentioned above is a key component to any 3G playing surface. This can be supplied to the contractor in different grades and with different oil content. It is made from recycled tyres. The crumb used on our new pitch was a relatively fine grade - compared to, say, that used on the old 3G training pitch adjacent to the main ground.

“An oily residue from this rubber can under certain circumstances create a waterproof barrier above the carpet. This is more likely to occur if a finer grade crumb is used and if it has been laid in hot dry weather. The oil can come out of the crumb in the heat and form this barrier before wet weather comes along. Whilst this is not a common problem, it does happen on occasion and we appear to be one of the unlucky ones.

“The most important issue however is resolving this problem. The solution is relatively straightforward and involves a very deep brush of the pitch which removes or dislodges the crumb, a chemical (detergent) treatment and then relaying the crumb which would be free of further residue. This exercise will be undertaken as soon as possible.

“There are matches due to be held on the pitch prior to this taking place: the Youth and Academy teams both have friendly matches on it and these will go ahead as normal. Heavy rainfall could potentially affect them, however we hope that there would be nothing like the deluge we had on Monday.”

Meanwhile, the club do not use the expression “4G” for their pitch as they feel this is a misleading and a slightly deceitful term.

The statement added: “No sporting authority recognises the term “4G”. It is used by some firms to promote their product by suggesting it is an advancement on 3G but as 4G has never been formally defined it is a nonsense.”

John Fowler’s side are in tenth-place in the table with 10 points from 5 games and travel to Chatham Town in the FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday.

There are two other artificial playing surfaces in the Ryman League, at Maidstone United and Harlow Town.

Visit Whyteleafe’s website: www.theleafe.co.uk