Getting Personal with Tony Provan

Editorin People

Tony Provan - the pigeon won in a game of chicken

Who are you? Tony Provan - Head Groundsman at Meridian Sports & Social Club.

Family status. Divorced, but have three beautiful girls who are my world.

What's been the highlight of your grounds career so far? I've had a few ... working for Charlton Athletic when we were playing in the Premier League, whilst learning my trade under Paul Geary. Being part of the team preparing the pitches for the England and Argentina national teams when they trained at Sparrows Lane. Becoming Head Groundsman at both Brentford and Gillingham and, recently, being named London FA Groundsman of the Year.

If your younger self saw you now, what would he think? I think he would be impressed with how driven I am to succeed and my commitment to the job.

Which famous people wind you up? Not really anyone, apart from Diane Abbott ... enough said.

What job would you love, other than your own? I would love to be an F1 driver for the lifestyle and the thrill.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life? I was cutting the pitch at Charlton Athletic. The stadium was full of stewards, so there was no getting away with what happened. There was a pigeon struggling to fly that kept buzzing past, then it landed by the goal area. As I was approaching, I presumed it was going to move, but it didn't budge. At the last minute, I had to swerve, lost control of the mower and I slipped over in front of everyone. Luckily, the mower had slowed down and didn't do any damage to the machine or advertising boards.

Brexit or Remain? Brexit. I believe in life you win, and you lose. No matter what has been said or done the people voted, and the result was a Brexit win, so that's the result.

What is your favourite film? Law-abiding Citizen. Also, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels comes close.

What scares you? People creeping up on me making me jump - I hate that.

What would your autobiography be called… and who would play you in the film? It would be called Two Steps Back, Three Steps Forward. Two steps back for the bad decisions I've made in my life. Three steps forward are for overcoming them and being the man I am today. Jason Statham to play me - who else could represent the baldies?

Which historical time and place would you most like to visit? When we won the World Cup in 1966. I would have loved to experience that feeling of winning.

Do you have a lifetime ambition? I've been fortunate to have worked for Charlton, Brentford and Gillingham. I'm extremely happy at Meridian Sports Club and they have been fantastic in backing me, both on and off the pitch. At this moment in time, I just want to produce the best pitches I can.

Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party? My sister, as I never got to meet her - she died at six months old from septicaemia. Plus my mum and nan, who are not with us either. I would love to introduce them to my daughters and get the cuddles and kisses that they have never got.

What's the best advice you have ever been given? Think before you speak. I should have listened to this more.

Which three albums would you take to a desert island? Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory, Oasis - Morning Glory and the Prodigy - Fat of the Land.

What's your favourite piece of kit? The Toro 3100 Reelmaster; it gives me a fantastic cut with a great finish. However, I personally miss the Dennis G860 and would love one at Meridian.

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Strong-minded, honest and determined.

What is the single most useful thing you could tell a 16-year-old groundsperson/greenkeeper? Try hard, listen, absorb and learn as much as you possibly can. Stay grounded. You never stop learning.

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