The FA has honoured groundsmen who keep grass roots football pitches in prime condition.
Top ground staff from all over the country assembled yesterday at The FA’s prestigious ‘‘Groundsmen of the Year’ awards ceremony, in Partnership with Carlsberg, at Windsor racecourse.
The national scheme, now in its third year, acknowledges the vital contribution that ground staff make 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 who are tasked with maintaining public parks pitch.
This year’s main category award winners were 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.
A delighted Colin James said: "The awards are a great idea as they recognise people 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 recognises the 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 organised and 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.
Local Authority, National Award
3rd Place States of Jersey (nominated by Jersey FA)
2nd Place Wigan and Leisure Culture Trust (nominated by Lancashire FA)
1st Place Harrogate Borough Council (nominated by West Riding FA)
Level 3 and Below, National Award
3rd Place Neville Chard, Bisterne United FC (nominated by Hampshire FA)
2nd Place Tommy Porter, Durham City FC (nominated by Durham FA)
1st Place Adrian Smith, Tiptree United FC (nominated by Essex FA)
Level 2 Leagues
3rd Place Ted Scraggs, Bishops Stortford FC
2nd Place Barry Rowson, Yeading FC
1st Place Peter Ash, Aylesbury United FC
Northern Premier League
3rd Place Jonathan Wood, Gainsborough Trinity FC
2nd Place Charlie Skachill, Hyde United FC
1st Place Steve Dutton, Wakefield and Emley FC
Southern Football League
3rd Place Martin Pinner, Solihull Borough FC
2nd Place Peter Allen, Moor Green FC
1st Place Colin James, Erith and Belverdere FC
National League System Level 2 Award
3rd Place Peter Ash, Aylesbury United (Isthmian League)
2nd Place Steve Dutton, Wakefield and Emley FC (Northern Premier League)
1st Place Colin James, Erith and Belverdere FC (Southern League)
3rd Place Ian Manhood and George Tucker, Dagenham and Redbridge FC
2nd Place Terence Turner, Morecambe FC
1st Place Ron Sturgess, Barnet FC