The Groundsman

December 2013

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16 BEST PRACTICE the Groundsman December 2013 Poacher turned gamekeeper Colin Hoskins talks to former professional footballer Colin 'Paddy' Powell, who become head groundsman at the league club he has devoted 35 years to By: Colin Hoskins hen he retired from Charlton Athletic FC after making 358 appearances on the wing for the South London club, Colin 'Paddy' Powell never left the game. After brief spells as a part-time player at Gillingham and Dartford, then a foray into club management with Margate in 1990, Paddy swapped studs for forks and moved into groundsmanship by joining Westminster School in central London. "I've always taken an interest in pitches, even as a young boy of 11/12 years of age when I would visit my local cricket club and help out where and W when I could," he says. "That said, I learnt a lot of the basic 'rules' of groundsmanship during my five years at Westminster School – in the early days in the job, the first lesson was 'if you have a shiny roller then the pitch must be in trouble'. Good advice "I've picked things up as I've gone along and I've certainly learnt from my mistakes but, importantly, I haven't been afraid to ask for help and advice. That would be a message I would relate to everyone in the industry: there's Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions always someone, somewhere – fellow groundsman or supplier - who knows the answer to your questions." In 1987, a chance encounter with Charlton AFC's then chairman Roger Alwyn saw Paddy invited Paddy back to Charlton as groundsman at The Addicks' training ground. After a spell of ground sharing at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace and at Upton Park with West Ham (between 1985-1992), Charlton then returned to its spiritual home at The Valley and Paddy moved back there, too, to care for the turf he once used to tread so successfully. And he's been there ever since.

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