Day 2 at IOG Saltex 2005
Wednesday is always the show's busy day, probably to do with the formal announcement of the Groundsman of the Year award.
There was the usual round of presentations and product launches during the day, but the main talking point was the Groundsman of the Year presentation, and not for the reasons expected.
It was a warm day but the temperature inside the hall where the presentations were being held was decidedly higher when guest speaker, Keith Kent, used it as an opportunity to have his say on the industry - and none of it was particularly complimentary! The IOG, Pitchcare, referees, goalkeepers, the FA, TV and TV pundits were all castigated.
'Boring old farts at Milton Keynes', 'Bitchcare', 'TV cameras and pundits being able to see every handball but not a goalkeeper making marks on the pitch' - Keith was really in full flow. Whether it was the right occasion is open to debate. Keith is a well respected groundsman in the industry and, whether people agree or disagree with him is another issue, but the fact is he has an opinion and he has every right to express it - that has always been one of the founding principles of Pitchcare.
As far as the formalities were concerned Steve Williams of the Football Association said ' the award was having an impact, pitches were improving year on year and, because of that, we will have good natural grass pitches across the UK at all levels.'
The IOG Professional Groundsman of the Year was Paul Burgess of Arsenal. Other divisional winners were:-
Championship - Alan Ferguson, Ipswich.
1st - David Blackwell, Colchester.
2nd - Mike Heather - Cheltenham.
The awards were made by the Chairman of the IOG, Alex Millar.
Football Conference - 1st Ted Scraggs, Bishops Stortford; 2nd Barry Hedley, Southport; 3rd Darren Stanley, Crawley Town.
National League system Level 2 - 1st James Skachill, Hyde United; 2nd Martin Pinner, Solihull Borough; 3rd Andy Green, Braintree Town.
Southern FL - 1st Martin Pinner, Solihull Borough; 2nd Peter Ash, Aylesbury United; 3rd Ronnie Walton, Merthyr Tydfil.
Northern Premier - 1st James Skachill, Hyde United; 2nd Eric Wilson, Whitby Town; 3rd John Martin, Brigg Town.
Isthmian - 1st Andy Green, Braintree Town; 2nd Adam Rowlands, Yeading; 3rd Dick Peters, Dover Athletic.
Steps 5 and 6 - 1st Tommy Porter, Durham City; 2nd Adam Rowlands, Hanwell Town; 3rd Paddy Burton, Didcot Town.
Steps 7 and Below - 1st David Baker, Penryn Athletic; 2nd Patrick Selvey, Bloxwich Town; 3rd Alan Jeeves, HSBC Sports Club.
Local Authority - 1st Peterborough City Council; 2nd Southend BC; 3rd Gateshead Council.
These awards were presented by Jack Taylor.