Luton Town FC kindly hosted a celebratory night to show appreciation for the groundsman who maintain grass pitches across Bedfordshire. On what is already a memorable season for Luton Town FC, the perfect stage was set on the hallowed turf at Kenilworth Road. It was also fitting that each prize was awarded by Richard Bird (Head Groundsman at Luton Town FC) in the presence of sponsors MH Goals Ltd and British Sugar Topsoil who were proudly represented by Matthew Harrod and Kim Campton respectively.
Tom Belton & Paul O’Brien won the Groundsman of the Year 2019 competition and were presented with a dimple line marker and drums of paint from Matthew Harrod of MH Goals Ltd. Tom and Paul maintain the grass pitches at Biggleswade Town at Langford Road to provide quality surfaces for Biggleswade Town Youth and Biggleswade FC reserves. They will both now fly the flag for Bedfordshire in the Regional competition in the hope of emulating the current Bedfordshire based 2018 National Winner.
Wes Matthews and Roland Simmonds (Elstow Abbey) were amongst a host of partners and stakeholders including judging panel members such as Rob Bradshaw (Professional Groundsman) & Alan Moorhouse (Beds FA Council). Luton Borough Council, Dunstable Town Council and club representatives made up the fantastic attendance to show support for the event whilst being advocates of the Pitch Improvement Programme.
Robert Hill (Woburn & Wavendon) and Carl and Stephen Inns (Slip End United) were highly commended for the excellent work carried out at their pitches coupled with the successful implementation of the Pitch Improvement Programme recommendations. Robert will benefit from drums of paint to help towards the line marking on the numerous sites that he maintains and prepares for the 37 team club. Carl and Stephen were presented with a voucher that entitles them to a free place on an IOG Level 1 qualification.
Richard Bird then provided insight into the life of a professional groundsman and walked the pitch to show a range of equipment on display, each piece integral to maintaining the surface throughout a long season. Q&A’s followed inside the stadium with the chance for the groundsman to learn more about cutting regimes, warmup routines, match-day preparation and the daily challenges that exist and need to be overcome. It was inspiring to listen and take away valuable tips and new information to apply in the coming months ahead. It was perfect timing as we lead to arguably the most important end of season renovation period that provides the foundation for the start of next season.
Those in attendance were then treated to a visit to The Brache training ground to see the early construction phase of new grass pitches. It provided an opportunity to find out more about the day to day operation and maintenance of the grass training pitches where further hard work takes place to ultimately help achieve success and record-breaking form on the pitch at Kenilworth Road. It was evident that forming strong relationships, strictly keeping to maintenance cycles, clear communication and empathy are crucial factors above and beyond the high technical standards that are consistently maintained within the profession.
Bedfordshire FA are looking to support keen groundsman in completing a Level 1 Winter Pitches IOG qualification at a discounted rate. In partnership with the IOG and our Regional Pitch Advisor (Phil Jeggo), those wishing to undertake further learning and knowledge on winter grass pitches or who have been involved in the PIP scheme will be able to access the qualification locally in Dunstable at Bedfordshire FA HQ if enough interest is generated.
Keep an eye out for an upcoming event on 3G turf pitches that are being lined up in conjunction with Technical Surfaces…….
If you are interested in joining the Pitch Improvement Programme, attending a Level 1 IOG qualification or getting involved in natural grass pitches generally then please contact James Petty on James.Petty@bedfordshirefa.com