The Groundsman

February 2014

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inning the 2013 IOG Toro School, College, University or Sports Club Groundsman of the Year Award couldn't have come at a better time for Steve Fidler. After nursing a broken arm during the summer – an injury incurred while playing cricket – then some close family bereavements, "winning the award was a great pick-me-up", says the 55-year-old groundsman at St James' Boys School in Ashford, Middlesex. "Notwithstanding the fact that I won my category, the Awards evening was a very enjoyable event," he enthuses. Importantly, too, the IOG award also publicly recognised Steve's achievements during his three years at the school – as sole groundsman his remit covers a total of 14 hectares including a host of playing surfaces: • A cricket square It's been a case of continual improvement since groundsman Steve Fidler took over the maintenance and management of the playing surfaces at St James' Boys School, as Colin Hoskins reveals • Two rugby pitches and several training areas, which also accommodate 400m and 100m running tracks during the summer term • A floodlit sand-filled synthetic hockey pitch • Five tarmac tennis courts (three more are marked onto the hockey pitch during the summer term) • Four synthetic cricket nets and • A 1.8 hectare lake which is used for kayaking and, in the future, also for open water swimming. As well as being responsible for several ornamental lawns and garden areas, Steve's remit is soon to expand with the imminent construction on an additional two hectares of two rugby pitches, a cricket square and practice areas, plus an eight- lane running track. This expansion of facilities will, he says, not only help the W A class act By: Colin Hoskins school meet the rising demand for playing surfaces but it will also enable certain pitches to be rested more frequently. The new sports field/surfaces have been planned with the help of consultant Noel McKenzie, who has had to contend with various issues associated with a former landfill site. The school's main winter sports are rugby and hockey with matches taking place on several afternoons each week and at weekends. PE lessons take place every afternoon and on three mornings each week. On offer on Friday afternoons is a variety of sporting options depending on the season, including football, kayaking, cross country running, athletics, swimming and golf alongside the summer sports of cricket, tennis and athletics. In addition, the artificial surface is booked most evenings for football training. IOG BEST PRACTICE 16 the Groundsman February 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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