Ralph awarded National League groundsman of the year 2016/17

Steve Whitneyin Football

Torquay United groundsman Chris Ralph has received a top award from the Football Association for the standard of the pitch in 2016/17.

Ralph attended an awards ceremony at St George's Park today along with other clubs that were also honoured. He receives the award for the best pitch in the National League, and the National League North and South.

Aldershot Town, who are well-known to have an excellent surface received second place in the category.

Chris was understandably delighted with being awarded FA Groundsman of the Year for the National League: "The winning doesn't matter, it is the recognition for the job which sometimes goes unnoticed that is the best part. There is a lot of hard work that goes into the pitch.

"I'd like to thank the club, the team of volunteers that help me on match days. People like Mark White that come in to help after match days. Assistant groundsman, Julian Gouldthorpe who is now employed by the club, but he volunteered a lot of help last season.

"Without the volunteers that help, the pitch wouldn't come together as well as it does."

Other factors also helped throughout the season.

"Having a dry winter helped, but what has also helped is that the Gaffer respects the pitch. He hasn't trained on it anything like what previous managers have. When the teams does train on it, he is respectful of what I ask him not to do."

Ralph receives this award through the judgement of groundsmen Darren Baldwin (Tottenham Hotspur) and Dougie Robertson (West Ham) who visited the ground last season.

Torquay United General Manager, Geoff Harrop is delighted for Chris to receive this award.

"We're absolutely over the moon with this award for Chris," said Geoff.

"Chris is a great guy and an exceptional groundsman. He works night and day to get the pitch looking fantastic and to a level that we want at our football club.

"We have put extra investment into the pitch this year and at the end of last season to maintain the high levels that Chris has set.

"A huge congratulations to him, and the team of volunteers that help the club. I'm sure he'll enjoy the accolade. I look forward to seeing him upon his return with the trophy".

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