Toby Lumsden has worked in turf all over the world, enjoying a career spanning cricket wicket preparation and a variety of other sports.
He is now the grounds co-ordinator at Casey Fields in Victoria’s southeast, a venue which has an athletics centre, sports ovals, tennis courts, playgrounds, netball courts and criterium cycling track.
Toby began working in turf twenty years ago, when he did his apprenticeship working for a contractor on bowling greens.
During this time he finished his apprenticeship and began his diploma before heading off on his first overseas work trip to Uxbridge Cricket Club, which is part of the Middlesex cricket league in a suburb of outer London. He was there for one year, before doing a year of work at Lords during the 2001 Ashes Series.
Toby says he really enjoyed his time at Junction Oval, as it was mainly cricket orientated. At the end of that year he got a job as the turf supervisor at Junction Oval in Melbourne, working for the Melbourne Cricket Club and spent the better part of the next seven years there.
“There was a lot going on for cricket then because of the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the MCG getting resurfaced, so for a couple of years we had a lot of first class cricket, all the ODI’s, tour games and Sheffield Shield games.”
After his time at Junction Oval, Toby was ready to travel again and made his way to Dubai for three years to work at the International Cricket Council’s Global Cricket Academy.
“I was more or less there from the construction through to employing staff, training staff and preparing the wickets. We had test matches and ODIs and all the T20 world qualifiers.
“Working in Dubai was hard due to the lack of resources, not so much labour or manpower, more just being able to get quality products.
“We imported clay from the WACA and the GABBA, Pakistan and English loam.
“We couldn’t replicate the English conditions with rye grass in summer, we only had a really small window, so that was tricky.
“It is so humid there you would walk outside and your glasses would just fog up. The roof was a bit like the GABBA, you get a lot of shade, so it just made growing the couch harder than I envisaged it being.
“I learnt a lot about water quality and water treatment plants and stuff like that.”
After three years, Toby’s visa ran out, so he made the move back to Melbourne and took up the position at Casey Fields.
“In the last few years we have resurfaced the bottom rugby oval, the main VFL oval and put drainage in oval two and three.
In his time at Casey Fields, he has been busy with renovations and ongoing maintenance.
“Working here you get a variety and take a different aspect from each sport. It is all just growing grass but slightly tweaking it for each sport so that it can perform better.”
Toby’s team at Casey Fields is small, but they do a remarkable job. Glen is the supervisor under Toby, Daniel is a turf tradesperson, Greg is a horticulturalist and then there is a casual gardener who does about 30 hours a week.
One of the biggest projects done at Casey Fields was the recent VFL oval replacement for the Casey Scorpions.
The capital works projects for the City of Casey all gets approved in May/June with projects generally commencing in July.
This project was broken up into three components being supply and laying of the 20,000 square metres of turf by Anco Turf, civil works by Hendriksen Contractors, which included the digging up and removing of the turf and shaping and thirdly the supply and delivery of sand by TGS Sand Supplies.
The earthworks for the project began on the 19th of September 2014 and the project was completed in its entirety by the 11th of October, 2014.
“The project all ran quite smoothly, there was only one day of rain that made it a bit wet,” says Toby.
“The first training on the new surface will be in mid to late January. It is growing in and we have been able to cut it for over a month now.
“The oval is all Santa Ana, that was our choice and it will probably all get oversown for football, to have some colour and some stripes for winter.
“It has maintained its shape and had a topdress with 150 cubic metres. It is all bedded in and the roots are taking, you can’t pull it up so we are reasonably happy.”
The project began with removing 90mm of thatch, then cultivating to a depth of 100mm, during which time some shallow irrigation pipes were uprooted.
As Toby says, while you would rather not find them at all, if you are going to stumble across irrigation pipes it was better to do so then when they could be dug down deeper and avoid being damaged in the future works.
All in all, it will be fantastic to see how the ground holds up early next year and turfmate wishes the boys at Casey Fields the best of luck.
Article courtesy of turfmate – www.turfmate.com.au