The Groundsman

May 2015

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AWARD SPONSOR 24 the Groundsman May 2015 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions ampshire born and bred, Andy Gray entered the industry at a local golf club in Andover, raking bunkers, before enrolling on a specialist turf culture course at Sparsholt College, Winchester. Aged 17, he then joined Southampton FC's grounds staff in 1998 as an apprentice under David Roberts (at The Dell), at the same time working on a 'loan deal' placement at near-neighbour AFC Bournemouth. This two-year period gave him a wealth of experience for what was to come because, in 2007, David was appointed grounds manager at Charterhouse School and Andy became joint head groundsman for Southampton FC with Graeme Mills; Andy looking after the stadium and Graeme the Staplewood training ground. H Many shades of Andy Gray Southampton FC is riding the crest of a wave and the club's St Mary's Stadium could soon be hosting European football. Grounds manager Andy Gray outlines the regimes that help showcase the pitch to a global audience By: Richard Fry Following a successful period, Andy then stepped into the new position of grounds manager for both the stadium and training complex. Award winning pitch The club's St Mary's stadium pitch is regarded as one of the finest in the country and in the 13/14 season was awarded the Premier League's joint Best Pitch of the Year with Arsenal FC. Such an award does not come easily but Andy has enjoyed a continual record of achievement, including winning The Championship's Groundsman of the Year in 07/08 and, in season 09/10, League One Groundsman of the Year. Another of Andy's achievements is his trademark pitch patterns, which reached its zenith with his design of concentric circles. Such intricate patterns are, however, only used on match days at the end of the season when nothing rides on the result of the match. Following the last league game of the season, the stadium pitch is hired out for corporate events. After this it's back to business for Andy and his team - groundsmen Ian Lucas and Danny Silvestri at the stadium, and head groundsman Graeme Mills plus a staff of eight at the training ground. Seasonal pitch renovation Of fibre sand construction with undersoil heating, the stadium pitch's end-of-season renovation programme consists of a fraise mow, then hollow coring with 60-90 tonnes of sand

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