February 21, 2024
The DW Stadium surface

Aw come on, it isn't that bad.

DW Stadium pitch

Relaying of the much-maligned DW Stadium surface gets underway today and should be complete for next Monday’s visit of Liverpool. Not before time, you might say.

In seasons past, we’ve seen the pitch suffer badly around this time of year. You can point to any number of factors: poor weather, undersoil heating malfunction, moles etc. I will also concede that it doesn’t help that we have to groundshare with a rugby league team, but that isn’t the root of the problem.

And to be honest, I don’t think I could tell you for sure exactly what is causing the pitch to break up year upon year. After all, there are plenty of other northern clubs — Burnley, Stoke and Preston to name but a few — who’ve managed to keep their pitches in decent condition despite inclement weather, and they’re run on similar budgets to the Latics.

Tending to the DW Stadium pitch

The ‘sabotaged’ undersoil heating theory

Perhaps the technology involved in the DW undersoil heating system was cobbled together with the lower leagues in mind, because even though Dave Whelan had ambitions of the Premiership back when the stadium was completed in 1999, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pinched the odd penny here and there. Good old Uncle Dave, ever the tightwad Northerner.

However, I’m inclined to blame this failure on the now slightly dated and probably very rusty technology rather than an inability to foot the heating bill or even bunch of Bolton fans with spanners. Besides, do you not think we’d have heard about that by now? There’s a deadly anti-Trotter forcefield within a one-mile radius of the stadium that’s only turned off when we play Bolton. They’ve got a similar one at the Reebok as well – it’s called the car park.

The ‘too much sand’ theory

The DW Stadium surface
Aw come on, it isn't that bad.

The wonderful Wikipedia journalists at Sky have mentioned the high sand content in the DW surface doesn’t exactly help the pitch hold together very well. Can you blame us Wiganers for dreaming of the seaside? On more than one occasion last year, the powers that be lorried half of Blackpool beach to Wigan town centre, building a large sandpit just outside Hampson’s.

Maybe afterwards, the whole lot was ‘illegally’ dumped (read: fly tipped with permission) in the centre circle at the DW – Big Dave and his penny pinching again? Nah, don’t be so cynical.

The ‘there is no conspiracy’ theory

On this occasion, I would say a combination of bad luck and bad weather have worked against us. The particularly cold winter we’ve just experienced has seen more snow fall in Wigan than there has been in the entire decade, and the poor old undersoil heating has really taken some stick over the last few months. In fact, it’s a surprise the thing never broke down before it did, and when it finally gave up the ghost last month, the groundsmen were fighting a losing battle to keep the surface at Arsene Wenger standards for this month’s three home games in a row.

So there.

Why would Roberto Martinez, a manager who’s made it clear how passing is an integral part of his tactics this season, want the DW to be in such a state that every time the ball hits the ground you need a crowbar to get it out again? Go back to reading the Daily Mail, there are no conspiracies here. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Pitched battle: The DW Stadium surface ‘conspiracy’

  1. Quite simply, the pitch needs to be rested in the summer. That is when root and sward development takes place. High sand content is common for all winter sports pitches and when combined with a programme of aeration, watering,scarifying and feeding, combined with a rest from play the pitch could be more than adequate for a prolonged winter programme of play.

  2. When Springfield Park hosted both football and rugby for one season in the 1980s (Springfield Borough and Wigan Latics), Borough had to be turfed out (if you’ll excuse the pun) because the pitch was being overused. Now, I know there was no undersoil heating in those days and we were a fourth division club, but I can’t get away from the fact there are two professional teams playing there, one in winter and one in summer. This means the poor pitch never has any let up and there’s sport at the DW all year round. The pitch severely cutting up is inevitable.

  3. it is a factor that two pro teams playing for the year does not help.but you need to investigate the area the stadium was built on,the area was originally a smelly swamp,a overfill area were water filled up with water from the canal and river douglas and other sources the water table was allways at its highest in winter and smelly in summer i would surgest the area below the stadium and surrounding area is a mas of under ground channels and culverts.

  4. Good point, John. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole stadium was built on a mineshaft or something, after all, the rest of Wigan is. I guess the only way around it would be to build a new stadium on better quality ground, but that ain’t gonna happen. Besides, I reckon we could put up with a few bad surfaces a year, God knows we used to make do with far worse in years gone by.

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