More than 640 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, have honoured the expertise, dedication and passion of the country’s grounds profession at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) annual Industry Awards.
Now in its eighth year, the sell-out event at the National Conference Centre, within the National Motorcycle Museum, recognised leadership, innovation and outstanding achievement across every aspect of groundscare – from grassroots pitches to professional stadia.
The prestigious awards ceremony also celebrated the quality standards of groundscare achieved in public and private sports venues, and highlighted the progress of young/student grounds professionals as well as entrants’ environmental considerations.
The winners of the 2016 IOG Industry Awards included:
- SGL Professional Football Grounds Team of the Year – Tottenham Hotspur FC
In addition to maintaining the main stadium pitch at White Hart Lane in north London, Tottenham Hotspur’s 32-strong grounds team is also charged with the upkeep of the 15 training pitches at the club’s 77-acre site in Enfield.
- Headland Amenity Professional Cricket Grounds Team of the Year – Essex County Cricket Club
Charged with preparing and maintaining the facilities at the Essex County Ground in Chelmsford to first-class standard cricket, including the practice nets, match pitches and outfield, the Essex CCC grounds team also supports satellite grounds at Billericay and Southend, as well as takes care of pitch preparation and maintenance at the Colchester ground for the annual first team festival week.
- John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team of the Year – Huntingdon Racecourse, Cambridgeshire
With four members, the Huntingdon grounds team is responsible for a total area of 70 hectares, comprising a 15-hectare race track plus three rugby pitches (for the semi-professional Huntingdon Stags), a stable yard and sampling area, as well as car parks and formal lawns – the latter being popular for weddings.
- Desso Professional Rugby Football Union Grounds Team of the Year – Ricoh Arena (Wasps) Coventry
Working on a restricted budget, the two-man grounds team at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry consistently presents a quality playing surface for dual-purpose sports to satisfy a busy schedule of usage not only by the Wasps’ first team and their champions cup and captains runs, but also for Coventry City first team games, as well as matches for the reserves and cup games.
- Mansfield Sand Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team of the Year – Leeds Rhinos (Leeds Rugby)
The four-man Leeds Rugby grounds team have ‘doubled-up’ on their success at last year’s IOG Industry Awards by winning the Mansfield Sand Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team of the Year Award for the second year in succession.
- Professional Tennis Grounds Team of the Year – All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon
The obvious focus for the Wimbledon grounds team is the preparation and presentation of the grass courts for the annual Championships, an event that puts the team under a global spotlight. Collectively, the 41 grass courts there see 3,500 hours of play for The Championships and it would not be an understatement to say that the quality of these playing surfaces are revered the world over.
- National Governing Bodies’ Professional Sports Ground of the Year – Wembley Stadium
The Wembley grounds team – which, it has been said, “will run through brick walls for one another” – is charged with delivering the multi-use elite sports stadium pitch to a world-class standard for a host of sporting events such as football cup finals, England national team home games, NFL, rugby union and rugby league games, as well as corporate events plus a myriad of other events including music concerts.
- Rigby Taylor/Top Green Young Groundsman of the Year – Lewis Pattinson, Leeds Rugby
Aged 24, Lewis is assistant head groundsman of Leeds Rugby’s grounds team, of which he has been a member for the past four and a half years. Accredited to NVQ Level 3 in Sports Turf and Level 2 in People Management, Lewis is a key member of the four-strong team.
- Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student of the Year – Katie Croft, Manchester City FC
Katie is an apprentice at Manchester City FC’s CFA training centre and, being a work-based learner, her training and assessment takes place on-site using practical tasks as well as an online knowledge resource database and an e-portfolio.