Video - Ground-breaking stuff at the Lane

Footes Lane groundsman Shane Moon got to work on his pitch yesterday with a hired Robin Dagger machine, which explodes air beneath the surface to create cracks for sitting water to drain through and also helps to remove the layer of clay below the pitch.

Footes Lane groundsman Shane Moon with the Robin Dagger machine.

Footes Lane groundsman Shane Moon got to work on his pitch yesterday with a hired Robin Dagger machine, which explodes air beneath the surface to create cracks for sitting water to drain through and also helps to remove the layer of clay below the pitch.

Culture & Leisure minister Deputy Mike O’Hara revealed that the machine could be used every year to ensure recent problems that have caused football and rugby matches to be postponed do not happen in future.

Work is also being carried out to clear the drains at the venue this week and it has been revealed that the main drain was severed, probably as long ago as 2003.

(Picture & video by Peter Frankland, 1304158)

Comments for: "Video - Ground-breaking stuff at the Lane"


Why has it taken ten years to discover the main drain has broken? Something smells!


Great to see some progress at last!

Shane will be chuffed to bits that he can make some headway.


At last Culture and Leisure have responded to our comments of a lack of maintenance of Footes Lane.

Footes Lane has had a herring bone drainage system since the mid 1970s and was working successfully until the last couple of years whereby the ditch that takes the water was poorly maintained blocking the pipe system from freely running into.

The machine will help in freeing surface water quickly and keeping the pitch more playable.Filling the cored holes with a coarse sand will improve the subsoil for free draining

States House

Its not that the drain has cracked, whoever originally laid the pitch did a very poor job, there is a layer of clay under the turf from where the contractor was cheap, which is acting as a barrier stopping the water pentrating though to the drains. This machine they have hired will work for a week or so until the holes its created block again. All its doing is opening a hole that will relax and close again. The only real solution os to rip the whole area up and do a proper job in the first place. You don't lay drains, then put an impenetrable material over it!


States House

I am surprised they are not using the auger attachment

States House

I think the problem with that would be a possibly uneven playing surface. There is no solution other than starting from scratch and actually getting it done properly. The contractor who did this in the first place tried to get away with not paying to dump the dug out spoil and paying for new decent top soil. Clay is rubbish for drainage.

What Culture and leisure should do is plan to have the pitch done properly in the summer and in the mean time, get some land where they can store good topsoil and allow people and firms to tip there good topsoil so they can have a good amount of it. Thousands of tons are just dumped each year because the states will not give up the land to recycle dug up soil. It all just goes to Longue Houge to chuck in the sea.


States House

Using the auger means taking out cores of compacted clay substance without damage to playing surface.sweeping up cores from surface and dumping.

Replace with coarse sand into core holes[topdress].Drainage improved.water movement freely to drainage pipes.

I did e-mail culture and leisure with this but had no reply of aknowledment.

It shows you with 20yrs in turf culture my advice was unwelcomed or lack of interest from a department.

States House

Yes but if you are replacing the soil you have removed in the core with another material like sand, gravel etc that will not rise and fall with rain and sun or have the same give in it as the surrounding soil, which could cause an uneven playing surafce or hard spots a football or rugby player could trip on.

What they are currently doing is blowing air through a lance, injecting it in to the soil but this is pointless, these injected holes will just close up again as the ground soaks up more rain and expands.


States House

The core holes are not big.About 1 inch in diameter so not fear of tripping.Drag matting or brushing in sutable light sandy loam annually will evenually give a first class playing area with out subsideness.

Just good man management will prolong the pitches life cycle.

Regular spiking,overseeding,feeding and checking drainage outlets[duit].

David Green

Hello Guernsey,

As the contractor that supplied the two Robin Daggers , I was pleased to see the rapid drying of the turf that resulted from our work.

Much of what has been said in the comments above have at least some truth about them. However we made it crystal clear before we even left base that the dagger treatment was an emergency response to get the surface dry enough to continue with normal grounds keeping activities not a long term fix.

The drains are now running freely with clear water at least partly because they have been cleaned out professionally and the accumulated silt removed. The dagger probe and air blast completed the route from surface to drains. That vastly improved drainage will give the staff at Footes Lane chance to get on to the surface something that they have struggled to do since the autumn.

As I have seven of these trusty little machines, probably the most daggers all in one place that are still working,I think I know them inside out and backwards. Someone mentioned an auger attachement for the Robin Dagger. Clearly this guy does not know this machine or is mistaking it for another as the Dagger has neither the facility to fit an auger in place of its existing probe nor any form of mechanism that can impart the rotation required to drive the auger into the soil.

The Dagger uses an eccentric cam hammer system to drive the probe into the ground under the weight of the engine, compressor, pressure tank and hammer assemblies with probe withdrawal by a straight pull exerted from a dog type clutch driven by a sweet piece of Japanese technology called a harmonic drive 200-1 gearbox. Once the probe is in to full working depth air at 10 bar is blast into the ground to crack and loosen it.

Those who visited site will have seen the significant shockwave this almost explosive release of air caused. Those who claim the holes will "soon close up" have missed the point that it is the air blast that does the work of loosening the soil not the mechanical action of the probe.

To all those who advocate tearing the whole pitch and drainage system up and doing the job correctly I can only agree that this is the very best practice but add the caution that this is very expensive and would require the stadium to cut back severely on the use of the surface until it has firmly established. Just look at the mess that the great stadia in the UK have made of growing turf for what happens when you play football or rugby too quickly after laying turf and this despite throwing money at the problem by the wheelbarrow load.

To those who express the fear that the sand columns that may form from any backfilling of sand swept into the probe holes to keep them open will somehow stand proud above the surface. I have never heard of this happening in twenty years and millions of holes later doing exactly what is supposed to give a problem i.e. fully backfilling probe holes with drainage materials on bowls greens Golf greens and many hundreds of winter sports pitches.

Drains laid into clay are one thing,the clay layer should be grooved so that each drain is below the clay surface but covered with gravel, sharp sand or similar materials including Ltyag. Any water that comes down through the soil profile will meet the clay and drain into the gravel filled sumps around the drains and so get away.

Putting the clay suboil back over newly laid drains in their gravel beds is just idiotic and bound to fail. After all 6" of puddled clay lines most of the UK canal network and considering some are the better part of 300 years old I would say that proves that the clay is impermeable.

Good wishes to all

David Green

Terrain Aeration Services.


Dave Green,

Very interesting and great to read some facts about the process rather than the usual questionable stuff that abounds in cases like this. You obviously know your stuff!

I sincerely hope the works bear fruit and the pitch recovers and gets back to being usuable in the very near future.


David Green

Thank you for explaining the uses of the Robin Dagger.A machine designed for the purpose of breaking the sub-soil compaction with no visible problem to the playing surface and allowing water to drain freely.

I did use a auger type machine back in the eighties which you had to wind up then release to shatter the subsoil but soil science has now more advanced.

Ryan greenaire for hollow tining and the tractor vibra spiker are mostly used on golf courses which benefit surface water but not like your robin dagger that gets deep down to the bad drainage problems that will occur through overplaying and extremly prolonged wet weather.

I hope that our island sports ground managers will invest in this machine and keep all games from being cancelled.


Pitch not looking so good since the egg-chasers played on Saturday.

2nd row

GFC fan

Maybe the rugby club should just find somewhere else to play, would that suit GFC better?


No! That is not what I am saying at all. We all have to share Footes Lane. Was simply saying that the pitch took a bit of a battering. Lets hope this dry and sunny weather will help dry the pitch and let the ground staff do their work on the pitch.