THE British winter can be a tough opponent when it comes to getting matches played. Once again, those who work hard to make surfaces up and down the county playable can be rewarded through the Essex County FA ‘Groundsman of the Year’ Awards.
The Awards recognise the hours of effort throughout the year from football’s volunteer workforce at Step Seven or below in the pyramid (including youth football). That includes clubs participating in both Saturday and Sunday competitions. Forms from clubs and leagues are required back at the County Office by 3rd February so the County FA can undertake site visits and forward three nominations to The FA in time for their own deadline.
Last season saw Brian Terry, of Old Chelmsfordians FC, named as the number one in Essex and he was invited as a special guest for England’s international fixture with Spain in November, with an opportunity to join Wembley Stadium ground staff on the pitch at half time. Additionally, Brian and other nominees attended an Awards Day in August at The FA’s state-of-the-art St George’s Park complex near Burton-Upon-Trent in Staffordshire.
They were handed a guided tour of the site as well as an insightful presentation from Karl Standley, Head Groundsman at Wembley. There was also a question and answer workshop with professional groundsmen from Southampton and Manchester City as well as Alan Ferguson from the St George’s Park staff.
For these awards, judges examine the quality of nominated pitches and take into consideration the groundsman’s skills and knowledge, their ambitions for the surface, the resources they have available, how often the pitch is used and the amount of time they are able to work on it. Judges look at their working environment, weighing that up against the quality of the pitch.
Essex County FA’s Brendan Walshe explained: “There are some dedicated efforts from volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure pitches are kept in the best possible condition for players to enjoy the game on. This is a great opportunity for leagues and clubs to recognise them and the top Essex club will go forward to a national judging stage, undergoing independent adjudication where they can chat to professional groundsmen.”
To nominate a groundsman, download a form from www.essexfa.com, call (01245) 393085 or E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed forms can be sent to Groundsman of the Year Awards, Essex County FA, The County Office, Springfield Lyons Approach, Chelmsford, CM2 5LB or via E-Mail at email@example.com.