Almost 300 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading groundscare experts from both the professional and volunteer sector, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators such as Sport England CEO Jennie Price, have honoured the expertise, dedication and passion of the country’s grounds profession at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards.
The packed Oscar-style ceremony at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium, home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club, recognised leadership, innovation and outstanding achievement across every aspect of groundscare – from grassroots pitches to professional stadia, including all types of public and private sports venues, and it highlighted the progress of young/student grounds professionals as well as product development and employer considerations.
Hosted by talkSPORT Radio’s Mark Saggers, the sell-out IOG Awards followed a day-long series of IOG Conference presentations by some of the biggest names in the industry on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as keynote speeches by Huw Jones, CEO of Sport Wales, and Ian Ricthie, CEO of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club and Director, Wembley National Stadium.
The winners of the 2010 IOG Industry Awards were:
Grass Roots Sports Ground of the Year
Winner: Leamington FC, Warwickshire
Finalist: Ewhurst Junior Football Club, Surrey
Home to Leamington FC, Leamington Lions (Ladies & Girls) & Leamington Brakes (Boys), Leamington FC is a FA community club that stages around 60 matches a year plus training sessions. The club is run on a voluntary basis with a part-time employed groundsman who works with an annual maintenance budget of around £6,500.
Volunteer Sports Grounds Management Team of the Year
Winner: Barnoldswick Town Football Club, Lancashire
Finalist: Pentyrch Sports Club, Cardiff
Established during the 1980s, Barnoldswick Town FC is based on land that was formerly pasture – and today, with careful pitch maintenance married with community support, the first class playing surface is in great demand as the local league clubs literally queue up to book their end of season finals.
Volunteer Sports Groundsman of the Year
Sponsored by Mark Harrod
Winner: Andy Spetch, Bury St Edmunds RFC, Suffolk
Finalist: Craig Moore, Kings Sutton FC, Oxfordshire
Responsible for 15 acres of rugby pitches plus an all-weather training pitch, Andy Spetch has developed a maintenance strategy that has saved the club money through targeting spending – the club does not own any equipment, so Andy negotiates with service providers to carry out any work in the most cost- effective way.
Public Sector Sports Ground of the Year
Sponsored by Vitax Supaturf
Winner: Bath Rugby Club
Finalist: St Paul’s Catholic School, Milton Keynes
Bath’s ground is not only home to the rugby club but also in the summer the temporary stand is removed to make way for the Somerset County Cricket club. Owned by the local council, the grounds and pitches are used for a host of other events including a half marathon, summer fairs and firework displays.
Public Sector Outdoor Facility of the Year
Sponsored by Bayer Environmental Science
Winner: Tameside Metropolitan Council, Greater Manchester
Finalist: Surrey University’s Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
Tameside is pioneering a successful new approach to management of the borough’s 68 sports pitches. A programme of pitch rejuvenation has almost halved the number of football matches called off – which equates to an additional 1,600 fixtures per year being played.
Environmental Project of the Year
Sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen
Winner: Leamington Football Club, Warwickshire
Finalist: British Sugar plc, Norfolk
Leamington FC’s ground is characterised by environmentally-sympathetic factors including the fact that rain water run-off and pitch drainage is piped back into local water courses, landfill waste has been reduced by over 75 per cent and all new flora is focused on providing maximum food for the local bird and wildlife.
Employer of the Year
Winner: The Hurlingham Club, London
Finalist: Tottenham Hotspur FC, London
In addition to an agreed training cycle, the grounds and gardens maintenance team at the Hurlingham Club, an Investor in People club, enjoys a CPD programme and undergo an annual appraisal process which is linked to performance related pay. Also, the annual business development plan is available for all to see and regular meetings are held to discuss the strategies and the roles they will play in them.
Best Maintained Artificial Pitch of the Year
Sponsored by Charterhouse Turf Machinery and Kubota
Winner: Manchester United’s Carrington training ground
Finalist: Eastbourne College, East Sussex
Both of Manchester United’s two 3G artificial pitches are used on a daily basis for every level of academy and community football. Joe Pemberton and his team maintain the playability and safety of the surfaces via a routine of regular maintenance and checks.
Innovation in Grounds Maintenance
Sponsored by Sanli UK
Winner: Flow Control (GB)
Finalist: Gartell & Sons
Flow Control has developed a no-spill can that deliver fuel in a very controlled way, and its innovative dead man’s handle means supply is immediately cut off when the can is dropped or knocked over. The customer list for this innovative development includes the Royal households of Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.
Most Promising Sports Turf Student of the Year
Winner: Nicholas Staff, Otley College, Suffolk
Finalist: Nicky Moore,University of Brighton
Nicholas Staff has worked at Thorpness Golf Course on a part-time basis since leaving school and he is currently studying for a National Diploma in Horticulture, but has expressed a keen interest in sports turf by undertaking extra study and learning to maintain the University’s pitches.
Young Groundsman of the Year
Sponsored by Harrod UK
Winner: Nick Phillips, Tottenham Hotspur FC
Finalist: Anthony Harry, Pencoed College, Wales
22-year-old Nick Phillips is deputy head groundsman at Tottenham’s first team training ground. In addition to excellent personal interaction skills, Nick is a model of good timekeeping and punctuality and, importantly, is very enthusiastic about his work. He has so far gained level 2 and 3 NVQ in Sports Turf maintenance and management.