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Training Ground Tour

Facilities Manager Sean O'Connor takes us behind the scenes

Training Centre

Arsenal’s state-of-the-art training centre can be found in leafy Hertfordshire, 45 minutes drive from Emirates Stadium

The first-team squad, along with the young professionals and Academy scholars, all train on what many consider to be the best playing surfaces in the country. In excess of 70 footballers use the facility on a typical day, while at the weekend the Centre stages youth team matches as well as reserve team friendlies.

In all, there are ten full-size pitches at the site, all of which have undersoil drainage and an automated sprinkler system. In addition, two have undersoil heating. Each pitch is built to the exact specifications of the playing surface at Emirates Stadium. Three of the pitches are reserved for the Arsenal youth team, three for the reserves and three for the first team.

The tenth pitch is the ‘match pitch’ where first team friendlies and Under-18 league fixtures are played. The match pitch is named after former Arsenal player and reserve team coach George Armstrong, who passed away in October 2000 after collapsing while coaching. A commemorative memorial stone and plaque is placed at the side of the pitch.

All the pitches are maintained by award-winning groundsman Steve Braddock and his team.

The existing Centre replaced the former University College of London’s Student Union site, which had hosted the Club’s training facilities since 1961. Prior to this, the Arsenal players used to train at the stadium in Highbury, running around the cinders track which used to circle the pitch and train with weights in the old stadium gym. On occasions, the team even used to train by running through the streets near to Highbury.

Manager Arsène Wenger was a key figure in the development of the present Training Centre. In fact, the contents and layout of the building were almost entirely decided by Arsène and his backroom staff.

The physiotherapy team – led by long-serving physio Gary Lewin, who departed the Club during summer 2008 to take up the position of head physio at the FA – had complete control over what the site would require for their crucial work, and fitness coach Tony Colbert, working in conjunction with Life Fitness (UK), equipped the gymnasium with everything necessary to keep the players in perfect condition.

As well as the excellent pitches, indoors the facility boasts six changing rooms, a steamroom, a swimming pool with adjustable floor, gymnasium, treatment rooms, massage baths, and restaurant. In addition to the playing and coaching staff, also based at the Centre are three full-time gardeners, 12 groundstaff, four catering staff, three building supervisors, and the manager’s secretary and youth-team secretary.

At the start of the 2004/05 season, a dedicated press briefing building was opened at the site. This building, where the players and staff fulfil their media requirements, consists of 10 interview rooms and a press conference room, seating up to 100 people.

In July 2007 an indoor pitch facility was completed at the Training Centre. The 70 metre x 50 metre pitch is used by players across the Club’s setup.

Arsenal in the Community also make use of the training facilities, running sessions for the Double Club in conjunction with Hertsmere Borough Council.

 

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