Do you know a groundsperson who mows a football pitch in all weathers, dedicating hours of their time to marking the touchlines and putting in exceptional efforts to prepare the best surface so players can enjoy a game each weekend?
Volunteers throughout the county are about to be recognised for braving all temperatures in their efforts for the perfect playing environment.
The Essex FA arranges the annual award to recognise hours of line-marking and forking throughout the year from football's volunteer workforce at Step Seven or below in the pyramid (including youth football).
That includes clubs participating in both Saturday and Sunday competitions.
The county office will submit three ranked nominations from member clubs, then the first-placed club will undergo independent judging along with other regional based leagues.
Forms from clubs and leagues are required back at the County Office by Monday January 14, so Essex can forward nominations to The FA in time for their own deadline.
A variety of marking criteria will be used by specially-appointed judges when reviewing the nominees.
They will examine their working environment and must also take into consideration the groundsman's awareness of why and how they carry out the various procedures on the pitch.
They will ask about how many games or training sessions are held on the pitch over a season, and how they deal with intensive play.
The amount of finance available for maintaining the pitch is also a factor, the groundsman's status as a volunteer or employee, whether they work alone, how much control they have over match postponements and what equipment they have available to them.
Aeration, feeding and irrigation are also elements of the assessment, as are the number of hours per week spent dedicated to pitch maintenance.
In 2011/12, the winners of each category were presented with a trophy at their home ground on a match day.
They were then invited to attend the FA Club during an England game, finishing off with a 'Winners Day' where the top five groundsmen in each category were invited to St George's Park.
The day included a tour and a question and answer session with the Head Groundsman at St Georges Park, plus a trophy presentation ceremony.
The national award for Steps Five and Six highlighted Shaun Pugh of Burnham Ramblers, who has been represented nationally for two successive years, in third place.
Harlow Town's David Bidwell was highly commended for his efforts on behalf of the Ryman League club, as was Geoff Cone of Lawford Lads for Step Seven and below.
The judges reported a particularly high standard of groundsmanship across the country, despite the adverse winter weather.
Essex FA Development Manager Brendan Walshe said: "This is a great opportunity for leagues and clubs to recognise the dedicated efforts of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure pitches are kept in the best possible condition for players to enjoy the game on.
"Without them, the standard of pitches would be significantly affected."
To nominate your groundsman, download a form from www.essexfa.com, contact the county office on 01245 393085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completed forms can be posted to: Essex County FA, The County Office, Springfield Lyons Approach, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 5LB. The deadline for entries is Monday January 14.
Article sourced from http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/football/good_grounds_for_praise_1_1693143