Get to Know the Groundsman - Anthony Asquith
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What’s your name and which club do you work at in what capacity?
Anthony Asquith. Grounds Manager, War Memorial Association and also turf advisor.
If you have one what is your day job?
My day to day job is management of the association with several different sports such as cricket, football, bowling, tennis, hockey, lacrosse. I have also advised on several different sports surfaces, predominantly specialising in cricket and golf.
How did you become a Groundsman?
I was a professional rugby player and also doing a sports science course but retired from rugby young and I wasn’t enjoying the college course. My father was Head Groundsman at Chapel Allerton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. I started working there in 1996 and that is where I caught the turf bug and lead to a lifelong obsession with turf. The rest is history as they say!
What do you enjoy most about being a Groundsman?
What I enjoy most about the job is producing a surface for sport despite the elements thrown at us and to produce a product where you can be proud of what you’ve achieved. I also enjoying presenting the surfaces to the maximum and hopefully seeing the surface play well.
What do you least like about being a Groundsman?
What I dislike most is when ignorant people devaluate the Groundsman’s role and the skill required to produce a surface.
What’s your dream purchase in terms of kit to make your job easier?
For me, no dream purchase, just the right equipment to do the job properly and investment in materials/products and enough time to do the job properly.
Regarding time at the ground, I have never judged it on time, I spend enough time to do the job properly so cannot put a timescale on it. I hit the windows of opportunity if possible and work around the clock to do the best job I can, day and night.
How many hours do you spend down the club each week and do you have any helpers?
Regarding time at the ground, I have never judged it on time, I spend enough time to do the job properly so cannot put a timescale on it. I hit the windows of opportunity if possible and work around the clock to do the best job I can, day and night
What’s training or learning gaps like to bridge?
Re training, I believe the college sports turf courses need to be a bit more rounded rather than golf greenkeeping. I accept that the majority are greenkeepers who enrol on the courses but there has to be more of an option regarding modules on site specific sport like cricket for example. Cricket is probably the most important surface on the way that ball reacts off it, plus the colleges should cover technical information for cricket such as looking deeper into soils and the art of preparation. I know this is very site specific but some background/underpinning knowledge and information may just develop an interest and fascination that may steer students into cricket groundsmanship.
While you have a captive audience anything else you would like to say about being a Groundsman and the challenges this brings?
One big thing that I would love to mention is more awareness around the stress levels we go through to try to achieve ‘perfect’, not that we ever get there (or at least we think we don’t). The main pressures in turf I have always had is being my own worst critic and maintaining the standards I set myself for every pitch I prepare, especially in cricket.
My attention to detail in the cricket pitch preparations, I leave no stone unturned and I try and reach ‘perfect’. I When I was involved in county cricket, I suffered terrible stress for 4 years to the point where I couldn’t switch off even when I wasn’t working. It affected my health for several years. When I wasn’t at work, I felt like I needed to be at work as XYZ wasn’t getting done whilst I was not at the ground. The truth was (although I couldn’t see it at the time) that I gave it 100% every day and couldn’t have actually done any more but such the pressures to get ‘perfect’ and my own expectations of myself I forgot about me and my family. I have learnt over the years to handle that expectation from myself a little better but it’s still not perfect and it’s something I battle with every cricket season.
So, the main message I want to put across is, we all do our best to look after our surfaces with pride and passion but don’t forget to look after yourself.