When the club was first launched 38 years ago, Brislington Junior FC was content to field one under-12s team. Today, the thriving Bristol club runs no fewer than 18 teams for around 300 children aged anywhere between six and 18. Even youngsters of three can enjoy some early skills development courtesy of its football schools.
The exponential increase in participation, notably amongst girls, means that the club now needs more than 60 volunteers to help with its running, more pitches on which to play and a range of equipment to maintain the heavily used surfaces.
Investment in recent times has included a Trimax Striker to cut the grass, a Kubota B2261 to provide the pulling power and a Sisis Quadraplay to repair the surfaces as they cope with the pounding of all those little feet. All came from Lister Wilder’s nearby depot at Keynsham based on advice from Area Sales Manager Ian Davies and drawing on vital FA grants.
Graham Mills combines the role of Groundsman with being the club’s Welfare Officer, and was until recently Secretary for many years. He has the level of dedication that is so familiar amongst true football lovers prepared to give time and energy to make the game happen for upcoming generations. It is on that sort of grass roots enthusiasm that the current success of the English national sides – both male and female – is being built.
“As the club grew we recognised the need for more equipment, from mowers all the way through to white lining machines,” says Graham. “We decided it was time to bite the bullet and instead of spending money on a local guy to come round with a tractor now and then to do a big cut for us we needed to have it under our own control. We were also paying a contractor to come in and do the seeding and slitting.
“We had an old ride-on mower that had done a good job for us but it was becoming unreliable and we were spending more and more money to keep it going, especially on the hydraulics. It was always a case of when we needed it most it was broken down waiting for parts and someone to come and fix it. I often had to use a hand mower to get the grass short enough to paint the lines because it was broken down.”
The transformation achieved by the introduction of the Kubota B2261 compact tractor powering the Trimax Striker has been significant, both in terms of the quality of the cut and the speed at which the pitches can be covered. “We are really happy with them and find that they handle well,” says Graham. “The ease with which we can vary the height of the cut on the Striker has been very useful – we raised it a bit through the winter and then lowered it again in the spring.”
The multi-spindled Striker is a rotary mower with low maintenance requirements and incorporates a unique baffle design for improved grass distribution and less clumping. It is fitted with full-width front and rear rollers that deliver stripes and also guard against scalping.
The powerful and yet economic 26hp Kubota with its legendary reliability and minimal maintenance makes an ideal partner. It is available with HST or manual transmission and with roll-over protection or an integrated air conditioned cab for maximum operator comfort.
Meanwhile, the Sisis Quadraplay comes into its own at Brislington in helping the club cope with both general maintenance and dealing with some particularly boggy areas. It’s a single pass maintenance system that accepts a variety of implements for use on both turf and hard porous surfaces. All implements are fully interchangeable and independently adjustable.
“We used it for slitting a couple of times through the winter months and it helped no end in keeping the pitches playable,” says Graham.
Meanwhile, the hunger for football remains as strong as ever in Brislington and, with the hunt for further playing space a priority, the club is pleased that it had the foresight to invest in making the Kubota road-going!