It's a disgrace!
By Darren Baldwin
The nominations are out for this season's Groundsman of the Year award's and it is with utter disbelief that I find the Premier nominations as follows:
This is not a case of sour grapes, my own pitch has performed well, but having watched and visited many of the grounds during this season, in my opinion, I would have expected the top three to have been between Birmingham City, Everton, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City, who have rightly been nominated.
This is in no way a slur on either Paul Burgess at Arsenal or David Roberts at Southampton, both of whom are friends, but I am sure they would agree entirely with what I'm saying. Both of these grounds have traditionally produced top quality playing surfaces, but both have suffered with combinations of inclement weather, games at the wrong time and in David's case many training sessions during this season.
It is the competition itself that has become farcical. The nominations are awarded from marks collected by the referees and club managers. My own manager is asked to name his selection of best surfaces, when the team hasn't even played at some of the grounds.
Since when has a manager or a referee been an expert on football pitch surfaces and equally why aren't the Groundsmen themselves asked to nominate their fellow professionals? Aren't we the right people in the best position to judge?
I am sure that everyone would agree that the award has become totally meaningless and will remain so whilst it is judged with the current criteria. There must be fairer ways of judging this award?
It has long been viewed by Groundsmen as a 'best pitch of the year award' rather than a 'Groundsman of the Year award'. This is based on the fact that one club may only have 25 games and no training sessions and look great whereas another may have 60 games and training sessions to boot and be wearing a little thin. Nonetheless the latter Groundsman will certainly have earned his corn and may have produced a perfectly flat level surface against all odds and lost no games.
Who should be regarded as 'Groundsman of the Year'?
I'm not only happy to vent and explain my frustrations but would be keen to know how others feel. Perhaps some suggestions could be offered as to how this competition across all leagues not just the Premier could be improved to the level that it actually became an honour to win the award.
Editors note: Have your say about the Groundsman of the Year Award in the petition section of the message boards.