0 FA honour Groundsmen

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Groundsmen digging deep for victory

By Alex Stone

On the 14th May, The FA confirmed the county and regional winners of this years FA Groundsmen of the Year Awards, which for the first time will be sponsored by FA Partner Carlsberg.

After nominations had been received by County FA's across the country, and judging taken place by industry experts - including judges from the Institute of Groundsmanship - the regional winners will now all go forward for to the national awards ceremony, which will for the second time be held at the industry's Sports and Leisure Technology Exhibition (SALTEX) at Windsor Racecourse on September 3rd.

The Awards were the brainchild of FA Leagues Manager Mike Appleby and The FA Pitches and Facilities committee in 2001, who decided that the 'unsung heroes' of the grassroots should have an Award of their own, as their Premier and Football league peers do.

On the conception of the Awards, Mike Appleby said: "Quality pitches are essential for the development of the game at every level; poor playing facilities can seriously hamper this development and continued participation.

"If the introduction of these Awards help motivate and recognise these 'unsung heroes', and raise standards, it will have all been worthwhile. You only had to look at the faces of last years winners to see what this recognition meant."

The categories for the Awards are:

  • Nationwide Conference Award
  • UniBond League Award
  • Dr Martens League Award
  • Ryman League Award
  • National League System (Level 2) Award - overall winner of above 3 Feeder Leagues
  • National League System (Level 3) Award - for clubs that play on enclosed grounds
  • Local Authority Award

The latter category was included to reward those local authorities who provide that 'little bit extra' when it comes to maintaining facilities, and the service they provide to their users.

With 97% of all affiliated football played outside of the Football League, grassroots ground staff play a huge role in ensuring pitches are in their best possible condition week in, week out around the country.

The FA is committed - in partnership with The Football Foundation - to improving football facilities in this country, and already £60million of facility projects have been developed through this partnership.

Improving facilities is the key to the future of football and considerable work is underway to address the state of current pitches and changing facilities.

In January 2003, The Football Foundation launched the unique REFF report (Register of English Football Facilities - www.reff.org.uk) assessing and mapping over 90% of pitches and changing rooms, highlighting that drainage problems are a major cause of concern, whilst 38% of pitches have no changing rooms.

Using the findings of REFF, Local Facility strategies will be developed in each County as part of a national FA Facility Development Strategy, as The FA aims to address the concerns of the players of today, and leave a legacy for tomorrow in the development of facilities in a prioritised and impactful way.

The Groundsman of the Year Awards will this year be sponsored by FA Partner Carlsberg, and Gareth Roberts, Sponsorship Manager for Carlsberg said: "The FA deal is an important part of the jigsaw as we develop our commercial plans for the Carlsberg brand."

"Football has been a key driver of Carlsberg's growth in the UK lager market and sales have virtually doubled since Euro '96.

"Carlsberg is the fastest growing standard lager and it is major deals like this, along with our support of The FA Trophy, FA Vase, and now, The FA Groundsman of the Year Awards that will sustain this momentum, and we are delighted to support such innovative Awards."

Local Authority Category County Awards - Regional Winners

Quinton Cole - Tendring District Council (Essex FA) - London & South East Region

Kevin Yates - Lichfield District Council (Birmingham FA) - North West & West Midlands Region

David Mansfield - Gateshead Council (Durham FA) - North Region

Steve Landick - States of Jersey (Jersey FA) - South Region

John Gray - Needingworth Parish Council (Hunts FA) - East Mids & East Anglia Region

Level 3 and below clubs Regional Awards

Andrew Snell, White Notley FC (Essex FA) - London & South East

Derek Trafford, Stone Dominoes FC (Staffs FA) - North West & West Mids

Peter Smith, Watton United FC (Norfolk FA) - East Mids and East Anglia

David Baker, Penryn Athletic FC (Cornwall FA) - South

Tommy Porter, Durham City FC (Durham FA) - North

These five regional Local Authority and Club Award winners, all go forward for the national Awards to be announced on September 3rd.

The following Groundsmen from the Nationwide Conference, and three Feeder Leagues who have been nominated for the National Awards will also join these Regional Winners at Windsor Racecourse on September 3rd:

Nationwide Conference

Rod Tippard, Yeovil Town

Barry Headley, Southport

Ian Manhood & George Tucker, Dagenham & Redbridge

Ryman Isthmian League

Peter Ash, Aylesbury United

Ted Scraggs, Bishops Stortford

Steve Barker, Hitchin Town

Dr Martens Southern League

Peter Allen - Moor Green

Robbie Britcher - Eastbourne Borough

Charles Parks - Rocester

UniBond Northern Premier League

Jonathan Wood - Gainsborough Trinity

Mick Collins - Matlock Town

Alf Padena - Radcliffe Borough

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