FA praised for recognising grass roots Groundsmen
There may be some controversy surrounding the manner in which the nominees for the Groundsman of the Year Award are selected for the Premier and Nationwide Leagues but, from the groundsmen working at the grass roots level of the game, there is no such criticism.
At the recent award ceremony for the North West and West Midlands Regions at the Birmingham FA headquarters, there was nothing but praise for the involvement of the Football Association. Their support of the award, which is in its 2nd year at this level, is welcomed and appreciated.
Kevin's Authority won not only the Staffordshire County FA Local Authority award but also the Regional award beating off competition from Liverpool City Council and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.
Kevin and his team who oversee 14 pitches, with their main site being at Beacon Park, were totally surprised at their initial nomination. "We knew nothing about the award until we were asked to attend a meeting of our local league where we were told we had been nominated for the county award by the users of our pitches. From our point of view it was a massive compliment to be nominated in this way; much better than putting yourself forward as you are often asked to do for some awards."
Kevin is no newcomer to the industry or local authorities, having started his apprenticeship in the Parks Department at Wolverhampton Council in the mid seventies before moving onto Clydesdale, and then to his current employer. I asked Kevin if the awards had made any difference at work, " You're not kidding," he said " It was mentioned at the Leisure services Committee; the councillors are delighted and, of course, the staff are very pleased with themselves. It's not often groundstaff get the recognition they deserve; they tend to get overlooked. So, as you can imagine, to be considered the best in the County, and also the best in the West Midlands and North West Regions of the country, is a great boost to us all."
Kevin went out of his way to give much of the credit for the award to Alan Brown, the Head of Operational Services at Lichfield," Alan's staff do the actual work on the pitches, but we all try to work together as a team to give the best service possible to our customers. The fact that they nominated us for the award in the first place is a wonderful compliment and an indication that we must be getting it right."
Lichfield, together with 4 other Councils, are now in line for the overall national award; judging begins next week. I asked Kevin how he felt about it, " We already consider ourselves to be winners. Being in the top five in the country is a major achievement in itself. Everything from now on is a bonus."
Kevin and all the other groundsmen I met at the ceremony were delighted that they were being given some credit for the work they do. In the past that has not always been the case. There are thousands of groundsmen up and down the country who get on with their work week in week out without any recognition at all. They don't want much, just the odd thank you or a pat on the back every now and then.
The fact that the Football Association is taking the lead by promoting and recognising the work of groundsmen at all levels of the game can only be good news for everyone concerned.