Grass Roots Football Groundsmenhonoured
By Alex Stone
Top ground staff from all over the country assembled this week at The FA's prestigious ''Groundsmen of the Year' awards ceremony, in Partnership with Carlsberg, at Windsor racecourse. The nationalscheme, now in its third year, acknowledges the vital contribution thatGroundstaffmake to grass roots football in England.
The awards are open to clubs in the Nationwide Conference and its three feeder leagues - The Ryman Isthmian League, The Dr. Martens Southern League and The Unibond Northern League. There is also an award for the best local authority that is tasked with maintaining public parks pitch.
This year's main category award winners were (Left to Right) Tiptree United's Adrian Smith, Barnet FC's Ron Sturgess, Erith and Belvedere FC's Colin James. Andrew Soper and Lynne Hallums accepted the award on behalf of Harrogate Council. Many of the trophies were presented by one of our best ever referees, Jack Taylor and the other more recently retired Jeff Winter, who was also the FA's Guest of Honour.
A delighted Colin James said: "The awards are a great idea as theyrecognisepeople like me who have dedicated years to perfecting grounds across the country."
Lynne Hallums echoed his comments: "We put our award down to the hard work our Groundsmen put in to creating top quality facilities for all the clubs in our borough. The quality of our grounds inspires all the clubs to play to the best of their abilities and we can see that they are doing so by their results."
Expressing his support for the awards, Sir Trevor Brooking, The FA's Director of Football Development, said: "All the ground staff nominated for an award contribute immeasurably to the improved quality and quantity of football played at grass roots level.
"The FA now re-invests 50 per cent of its operating profits into developing grass roots football and recognisesthe contributions that volunteers and ground staff make to the game. These awards demonstrate The FA's recognition of people who are wonderful servants to our national game."
The awards are organisedand run in conjunction with the Institute of Groundsmanship. Each of this year's category winners received a trophy and a holiday for two worth £600.
Although the Premier and Football League Awards were presented earlier this year, the winners were again in attendance to be represented their trophies.David Roberts (Left) won the Premier Award for his outstanding surface at St Mary's Stadium, while Alan Ferguson (Ipswich), Dave Brown (Hartlepool) and Mark Patterson (Macclesfield) picked up the Football League Awards
The full list of finalists as follows:
Level 3 and below
Neville Chard - Bisterne United FC, Hampshire.
Tommy Porter - Durham City FC, Durham.
Derek Trafford - Stone Dominoes FC, Staffordshire.
Adrian Smith - Tiptree United, Essex.
Peter Smith - Watton United FC, Norfolk.
Harrogate Council - West Riding.
Needingworth Parish Council - Huntingdonshire.
States Of Jersey - Jersey.
Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust - Lancashire.
Level 2 Leagues and Football Conference
Peter Ash - Aylesbury United FC.
Ted Scraggs - Bishops Stortford FC.
Barry Rowson - Yeading FC.
Jonathan Wood - Gainsborough Trinity FC.
Charlie Skachill - Hyde United FC.
Steve Dutton - Wakefield & Emley FC.
Dr Martins League
Colin James - Erith and Belvedere FC.
Peter Allen - Moor Green FC.
Martin Pinner - Solihull Borough FC.
The Football Conference
Ron Sturgess - Barnet FC.
Ian Manhood/George Tucker - Dagenham & Redbridge FC.
Terence Turner - Morecambe FC