The Groundsman

February 2015

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Page 14 of 51 RM34 NEW Wide Area Stadium Rotary Mower tment bet • Micro height adjus Wide Area Stadium Rotary Mower RM34 ween 15mm & 75mm tment bet RM34 NEW to d Scan to view video • Micro height adjus • 34" (86cm) width of cut a-rotating blades f win contr • Tw ass collector • 90 litre gr trong s or s ull width rear roller f • F Thame, Oxfordshire , Leicestershire Hinckley ford, Berkshire Sheff est Sussex Midhurst, W H U L K V Q R W S P D K W U R 1 G O H ¿ \ % al collection or centr a-rotating blades f tripes trong s Ultra-hi www e-mail: 01844 278843 01455 638960 01488 648552 01730 819981 01327 264844 vacuum .uk ar .f ww. e-mail: .uk AHEAD OF THE GAME 15 the Groundsman February 2015 Visit for more information and digital editions Stadium committment Ian joined the club when he was 19 years old – at the time being described as the youngest head groundsman in the country - after serving a two-year apprenticeship under a local greenkeeper. "Joining Cambridge was dream job for a teenager who really wanted to be a footballer," says Ian. But he clearly soon made an impression on the pitch in another way since, after only three months into the job, the then Leicester City manager said Cambridge United had "a remarkable playing surface" and Coventry City's manager subsequently commented that the pitch was better than Wembley. It was no surprise that Cambridge United lauded Ian for "transforming what used to be one of the worst pitches in the country". Not that Ian's role at the club has been plain sailing throughout his years there, and he reflects that probably one of the worst spells was when the club went into administration eight years ago. "In addition to being the groundsman, I was also the stadium manager with a staff of four people, but the club's financial troubles meant I lost that team. In addition, I also took on the role of the club's safety officer, a job I really enjoy." But wearing three hats takes a lot time and effort; often very long hours at the ground as well as evening and weekend work at home – and a lot of contra-deal bargaining to obtain stadium- and pitch-necessary materials. Ian, however, is not looking to be put on a pedestal for his work or for the fact that he has regularly put his hand into his own pocket to fund certain requirements. He'd much rather gain much-needed recognition for groundsmen and the groundsmanship industry as a whole. Industry champion Certainly nobody in football would doubt Ian's commitment to Cambridge United – nor anybody in his family, for that matter! – but his passion for groundsmanship is also clearly evident by his constant championing of the industry and the people in it. "Observers who don't understand groundsmanship don't appreciate the hard work and achievement of groundsmen who are always the first into a stadium and the last out whenever there's a game." He adds: "The Cambs FA groundsmanship awards are one way to give these people the recognition they deserve, and I'm actively encouraging every club in the region to enter their groundsmen, their unsung heroes, for this year's competition." Another way that Ian is helping to 'spread the word' is his recent work with the IOG-headed Grounds & Natural Turf Improvement Programme's regional pitch advisor Dan White and the Cambs FA. In addition to local site visits, where volunteer groundsmen will be able to benefit from the programme's push for improved pitch quality standards, Ian will also be hosting a seminar on February 12 when head groundsmen from a host of regional Football League clubs (Colchester Utd, Ipswich Town, Luton Town, Norwich City and Stevenage FC) will not only discuss the best ways of making themselves available as mentors for young, would-be groundsmen, but will also hear from a Young IOG Board Director about how social media can be a valuable ally in 'spreading the word' about a career in groundsmanship. In the meantime, Ian and everyone at Cambridge United, is looking forward to the return Manchester United game at Old Trafford in early February [this article went to press before the game] and, hopefully, the club's progression into the fifth round of The FA Cup. l The quality of the Cambridge United pitch has been lauded by other visiting managers - and helped Ian win five FA Groundsman of the Year awards

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