Kubota, the market leading manufacturer of high performance groundcare solutions, has helped a team of dedicated volunteers transform the sporting facilities in one of the most deprived areas of the country.
72-year-old Philip Swann and his team of six volunteers have given up their time to dedicate countless hours to make huge improvements to the state of the grounds for Handsworth Old Boys FC and Handsworth Old Boys Cricket Club in Birmingham.
Philip has been a Handsworth Old Boy member for over 55 years, started volunteering at the ground following his retirement as a sales director for a hardware manufacturer. He said: "When I volunteered to be groundsman, I had absolutely no experience, it was more because I had a passion for the club and wanted to help in anyway I could. However, I soon realised the magnitude of the issues I faced, which even experienced groundsman might have seen as a challenge!
"The main issue at the site is access. The grounds are enclosed by railway lines on all sides, with only one access point over the tracks that also has a very steep and dangerous incline. This makes it almost impossible for any larger machines to be able to access the site safely. To compound this, the driveway down to the facilities is only 7ft in width, which means the maximum size of a vehicle that can fit down the drive is a transit van. For bulk deliveries, HGVs or 3.5t trucks have to park over 250m away at the entrance to the grounds, adding serious workload to an already demanding job!"
"What's more, when I first started, everything was done on the seven-and-a-half-acre site by hand, the cricket square was in terrible condition and too many football matches were being cancelled because of water logged pitches as a slitter was needed."
Philip knew that he needed the right machine to help him start tackling these issues. Due to budget restrictions of this amateur club, it needed to offer excellent value for money, be versatile and durable, but also be easy to operate for the volunteers that would be using it with limited to no machinery experience. The final requirement was to ensure all the retired volunteers could carry out their work comfortably.
Kubota's STa-30 (which has more recently been superceded by the STW30 model) was the ideal choice, with the ability to handle a range of tasks with quick and powerful performance, a large hydraulic pump capacity to operate a wide range of attachments and excellent comfort for operators.
Philip continued: "The Kubota machine has been invaluable in helping us carry out a wide range of jobs with ease. During the summer months, the grass is cut twice a week (which takes roughly four and a half hours to complete each time) and it also allows us to use other key attachments for aeration and scarifying. The tractor also enables us to move and transport all sorts of materials around the site, as well as load up the trailer when we are tending to the 160 trees around the perimeter.
"So much of the work on the playing fields is carried out by the tractor, that in the event of it breaking down, all work on the grounds would come to a standstill. But it never does, it's an absolute workhorse, clocking thousands of hours and it's still going strong, a real testament to the reliability and durability of Kubota machinery."
The result of all this hard work, commitment, and hours and hours of volunteering time by Philip and his friends - success on the pitch for Handsworth Old Boys. This season, three out of the five football teams are top of their respective divisions and the cricket team has been promoted in three of the last four seasons. The grounds are also now a valuable asset for the local community, with many local football and cricket teams using the facilities, providing vital additional funding for Handsworth Old Boys.
Philip concluded: "My aim over the years has been to gradually improve the sports pitches. I've taken advice from turf specialists and also had advice from the groundsman Ian Allmark at Handsworth Grammar School for Girls to help us achieve this. Today, the satisfaction the volunteers get seeing a beautiful sports ground being maximised to its potential makes me extremely proud and is a validation of all the hard work and effort that has been put in over the years."
Following its partnership with Kubota, Philip is now looking to invest further in his machinery, with Kubota's experts recommending its new L1361 compact tractor as the best model to suit the demands of the sporting facility.
For more information on Kubota and its extensive range of solutions for the groundcare sector, or to find your local dealer, visit www.kubota.co.uk or call 01844 268000.