Australian Football League (AFL) umpiring great gives decision in favour of Village Green If anyone knows about decision making, it’s an AFL umpire with
more than 300 games’ experience.

After a 20-year career running, twisting and officiating on the best sporting grounds in Australia, Dean Margetts knows a thing or two about playing surfaces.

The veteran umpire has praised the City of South Perth decision to resurface Ernest Johnson Reserve’s football ground grass, where the WA-based AFL umpires train.

Having featured in games in front of hundreds of thousands of people at the likes of the MCGSCGAdelaide Oval and Perth Stadium, Mr Margetts is well qualified to judge the standard of the Village Green Kikuyu used in the re-turfing project almost two years ago.

“I run on the premier grounds in the country, so I won’t compare it them obviously, but from a community comparison it is as good as any metropolitan oval out there.”


“The traffic it cops during the season is huge and it has simply stood up, and the difference between before and now is clear to see. And when the new lawn was de-thatched, that really set it apart,” he said.


The oval has been a feature of the riverside suburb since before the birth of the man for whom it is named, Ernest J. Johnson Secretary and Town Clerk for the South Perth Roads Board from 1932 to 1964.

A 2017 revamp of the cherished ground saw a new pavilion constructed and the old Parramatta grass taken up to ensure the turf standard mirrored the level of the newly landscaped surrounds.

Chris Simondson, the City’s Parks Maintenance Supervisor, said Village Green was chosen because it handles wear and tear better than other strains.

“We had completed another oval reconstruction at James Miller Oval in Manning where we used Village Green with excellent results, so we chose it again for our ovals and turf replacement because the grass is durable and stays green during the slower growing months of winter.”


“It also saves money on fertiliser, as it responds well to less frequent applications,” he said. Apart from the 100 football umpires from different leagues that train three times a week, other sports are also conducted year-round, including Aussie Rules, cricket, athletics and personal training sessions.


“I have a three-week window to complete renovations from football to cricket season and one week between cricket and football seasons, and Village Green allows me to make these preparations.”


Mr Simondson said the goal squares and central corridors receive the most wear but with minimal fertiliser the grass responds well and keeps its colour.

Maintaining Standards


Mr Simondson described the maintenance regime that keeps the ground at the standard demanded of users, from sporting legends to kids having a hit.


“Ernest Johnson Reserve is mown weekly with a Howard’s Trimax Pegasus tow behind rotary mower. We apply wetting agent every six weeks at half strength at 25 Litres/Ha and that really helps keep the moisture level up and reduce dry patches.


 De-thatching & Recovery in 2019

Last year we engaged Statewide Turf Services to use their top-maker on the oval as the turf started to thatch and the outfield was becoming too slow for cricket. They removed 400m3 of clip, which was mainly caused by different stages of the project and the constant turf watering on newly laid turf as the stages were completed.

Fertilising is based on soil and leaf analysis completed quarterly by Sports Turf Technology. We also fertilise the goal squares and centre by hand every five weeks to help combat the wear in highuse areas. Broadleaf spraying is one application, completed in winter.

Stolons are stems that produce nodes from which new plants form. With more nodes to the stolons, Village Green provides better coverage that reduces broadleaf and bindii infestations. When laying the turf, we removed 150mm of soil and replaced it with an 80/20 sports blend of sand and C-Wise compost. The rest of the site is mainly a sandy loam which is ideal for growing turf.

Mr Simondson added that maintenance demands were the same as other varieties but the wearing capabilities are better. This saves on the amount of turf that has to be replaced

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