April at Carrow Road always holds an air of hope and expectation. Head of Grounds, Adam Grantham, maintains the Canaries bounce back spirit.
In recent history, the club has either been vying for promotion or battling relegation from the Premier League. The 2022/23 Championship season is no different, with the Canaries two points off the Play-Offs with four games left. Whilst this a familiar position for the club's players, staff and fans, it is the first full Norwich experience for Head of Grounds, Adam Grantham.
In October 2020, Adam was made redundant by Reading Football Club after sixteen years. Having ascended the ranks to Grounds Manager and overseen the build of the Madejski Stadium (currently the Select Car Leasing Stadium) and Bearwood Park training ground, he was still enjoying his role when his time was cut short.
He explains: "Covid hit us, and then there was a period of financial decisions by the club which involved me and about twenty other staff that were put on a list for redundancy. So, unfortunately, I was one of the casualties of that."
"You do miss it. I missed the team as well, a good bunch of lads, a very hard-working bunch, and I was sad to say goodbye to them, really."
"I took some time out, and it was a tough pill to swallow then. Obviously, just coming out of Covid and thinking, is there going to be anything for me?"
"I chose to stay in the industry, but as a technical consultant, which gave me a good grounding from the other side of the fence for a year. I didn't choose to leave Reading Football Club, so my heart was still in grounds, and this was a great in-between job. However, I wasn't finished in grounds, so it was great that Norwich gave me that opportunity to get back into it again."
Whilst Norwich was the job Adam was looking for, it was 166 miles away from his family and friends in Reading. The community of the club, their ethos and values all match his own, but the decision to move his life to Norwich was significant.
"It wasn't an easy decision," Adam explains. "Obviously, leaving family behind and my personal life changed quite drastically as well. So, coming this way on my own was quite daunting at the beginning."
"There were a few doubts at the beginning, as you can imagine. Are the team going to be receptive to me? Are they going to take on my views? Is it going to be an uphill battle? Are the club going to back me? So, there were a lot of doubts in mind, but as time went on, everything started to slowly fall into place."
"From a personal point of view, I'd say I was very unsettled at the start; coming into a new place and renting for a full year was tough because I had my own home in Reading. So, for me to go from that reality sort of hit home, I guess."
"It was so disjointed. I rented three different places, and it was just trying to find that happy balance of working, going home, working weekends and bank holidays. There are things you missed out a lot on at home because you're here and not just down the road."
"When you're here, you're so consumed by the job that you forget a lot of stuff. Because your mind is so busy, and you've got your probation period, and you've got to prove your worth as well. And making sure you get on with the guys and getting your message across quickly and successfully as well."
"When I finally sold my house in Reading and moved here, that was probably the first or second week of me moving in; that was when I felt at home for the first time."
"But it's finding that right balance. I'm a lot more comfortable and settled now than I've ever been since coming here fifteen months ago."
Two of Adam's main concerns when joining were the club backing him and the receptiveness of his team. But, in the fullness of time, they have turned out to be two reasons his time in East Anglia is going so well.
Adam is full of praise for his team, which he "couldn't do it without," with Russ Allison and Dan Hales at the stadium and James Randall, Ady Gooch, Matt Cartledge, Brad Richardson, Scott Codling, Ciaran Tipple, Debbie Hooks and Stephen Johnston at the training ground.
With them, he was able to quickly adjust when joining during the season and adapt to areas he's less familiar with, such as the vegetable garden and beehives at Lotus Training Centre.
"When I came in, it was assessing everybody and then going from there," Adam said. "Having a development plan for my staff, then to become the next skilled person, next first assistant, next deputy and next head. So, there's a career path I'm building and working on, which is the futureproofing of the grounds department."
"For me, it's getting the team around to the way I like to work. Getting the numbers up, and we're recruiting at the moment, and it's then trying to sustain that team and keeping them here, and everything else will fall into place."
The use of Raw Stadia has eased the learning curve and stopped him from having to 'go in blind' on moisture and hardness readings to the benefit of the pitch at Carrow Road. Bringing in testing equipment early on was also a positive sign the club backed him, and that is something Adam appreciates isn't always the case.
"They are very much a forward-thinking club, very professional throughout, and it's a joy to be here," Adam said. "I toured the club with my boss, Greg Pillinger, and it was clear then they actively invest in the facilities, and grounds are no exception. We have a great setup here and that's a massive bonus for me."
"When I first arrived, it was all (renovations) planned, but the great thing about this club is everything was thought of, arranged and budgeted, and it's really well run, which is brilliant."
"It's great because I've had the full backing of the executive committee as well, which was a great privilege. It's an appreciation of what I'm doing, which is great, and I'm very happy about that because it doesn't happen everywhere."
"I've been very fortunate that the things I have put forward have been agreed, and it's showing what I am trying to do here is really working. It's a new challenge and a new project for me, and I'm enjoying it."