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Groundsman

Bordering the Thames in Fulham and set in 42 acres of magnificent grounds, The Hurlingham Club is a green oasis of tradition and international renown. Recognised throughout the world as one of Britain’s greatest private members’ clubs.

Groundsman

Groundsman

The Grounds Team are part of the Estates Department and are made up of 26 professional and highly motivated individuals who pride themselves on the maintenance and upkeep of the prestigious grounds. The grounds of the Club include ten croquet lawns, thirty grass tennis courts, a cricket ground, a nine-hole golf course, two bowling greens and over a hectare of trees, flowers, shrubs and ornamental lawns. It is through the efforts of the Grounds team that the Club’s members are rewarded year on year with award winning sports surfaces and stunning season changing flowerbeds.

As a Groundsman you will work a 39 hour week with regular weekend work (compulsory but not guaranteed). Typical duties will include:

  • To undertake general turf and grounds duties.
  • Reporting and treating common pests, fungi and diseases.
  • Setting out sports areas.
  • Operating lawnmowers and other horticultural machinery.

Candidates will embody our Club values; excellence, prudence, integrity, courtesy. Previous grounds or turf experience advantageous. Those with NVQ 2 in Greenkeeping / Sports Turf Management and PA1 and PA6 Spraying qualifications will be at an advantage. Candidates will have a hands-on approach, the ability to work under pressure, have excellent attention to detail and will be friendly, polite and diplomatic.

Our benefits include 23 days’ holidays (rising to 28 days after 5 years’ continuous service) plus Bank Holidays, life assurance, Group Income Protection, meals on duty, uniform, onsite parking, a discretionary annual bonus scheme and an annual performance pay review, along other discretionary benefits.

Please apply by email, enclosing your covering letter and CV to:

Neil Harvey,
Grounds Manager

neil.harvey@hurlinghamclub.org.uk

Sheep take over groundsman duties

Sheep take over groundsman duties: Although it’s hard to find many silver linings in the heavy clouds pressing down on us at the moment, one positive part of lockdown is the natural world taking back what’s been nabbed by humanity.

Whether it’s herds of wild goats taking over Llandudno, or deer roaming the estates of East London. Now, an enterprising decision to get sheep cutting the grass at a Welsh rugby club is the latest in animal-based good news that should brighten up your day, at least a little.

Sheep take over groundsman duties

Sheep take over groundsman duties

The BBC reports that the flock of sheep in question have been moved onto a Welsh rugby pitch during the lockdown. Brecon Rugby Club decided that, while sports fixtures are on hold during the coronavirus crisis, it would be a great idea to rent their pitch to the club’s chairman Paul Amphlett. Amphlett is also a shepherd and has a flock of sheep who need ground for grazing. So not only will Amphlett paying to rent the pitch serve to drum up some well needed dosh during the club’s fallow period, it also helps save on the maintenance fees for the pitch. He told the BBC” “the club needed to find a way to make and save some money during lockdown, I said I’d pay rent if they let me graze my sheep on the pitch.” He continued: “this in turn allowed us to keep our 73-year-old groundsman safely tucked away and also saved us some money on fertiliser.”

But how’re they actually doing on the job? The club’s coach Andy Powell said, “the sheep are doing a good job, the grass is nice and green and healthy.”

Amphlett, who’s come out of retirement as a paramedic to work on the frontline during the coronavirus crisis, is relieved to have his beasts cared for while he’s on duty. He told the BBC, “they need to be looked after because if they roll onto their backs they often can’t get back up.” I mean in fairness to the sheep, that’s inclined to happen to any of us at the best of times.

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Foxes keep groundsman busy

Foxes keep groundsman busy: A brush with the local fox population is keeping Leeds Rhinos’ groundsman Ryan Golding busy during the coronavirus crisis.

Most of Rhinos’ 150 employees have been placed on furlough, a form of paid leave, but Golding is among a handful still working – and vulpine pitch invaders are giving him plenty to do.

Foxes keep groundsman busy

Foxes keep groundsman busy

“They are a nightmare,” Golding said of the four-legged hooligans.

“They live near the railway track, in all the bushes there.

“On a night, when they are scavenging for food, they come into the stadium and they always dig in the same place on the pitch.

“They are digging bones into the pitch – I am finding bones all the time.”

The urban foxes are sometimes spotted on the terraces after games, which is one reason why cleaning crews are brought in so quickly following the final whistle.

Golding hopes fencing will deter the pests and noted: “It’s a unique problem, with it being an inner-city stadium.

“You

wouldn’t have a problem like that on an industrial site, it’s just another thing we have to deal with.”

On the other hand, the foxes do keep Emerald Headingley’s pigeons – another traditional groundsman’s enemy – at bay.

“They are stalking around the pitch on a night, waiting for the pigeons to land,” Golding reported.

“There are feathers everywhere! On a morning I have to go around picking pigeon carcasses up.

“It is like a war zone, but they don’t go near our feed, fertilizers or chemicals, which is good.”

Even without the foxes, Golding has his hands full restoring the pitch to its usual glory following unprecedented rainfall last winter.

“My assistants have been furloughed, so it’s just me,” he said.

“I am having to look after all the stadium and all of Kirkstall [Rhinos’ training base] on my own.

“It is challenging, but it’s quite enjoyable – it is taking me back to when I was younger, getting my hands dirty.

“It is very negative circumstances, but it is what it is – there’s people dying, so you can’t really moan.”

The last few months have been tough for Rhinos’ ground crew who, as well as looking after Headingley, had to cope with flooding at Kirkstall.

Golding recalled: “We had a record three months of rainfall – around 300-350 millimetres.

“That is a hell of a lot – and it wasn’t necessarily the weather, it was the timing.

“We always seemed to get downpours the night before games and the morning of.

“We weren’t really getting any luck and the game where it turned was the double-header [when Headingley staged Rhinos’ Betfred Super League opener against Hull immediately after Castleford Tigers had faced Toronto Wolfpack].

“We had a lot more rain than expected after the first game.

“I had two choices, to leave it as it is and have a slow surface, or take it on the chin and make it a fast one.”

Rhinos scored 154 points in their three home games after the loss to Hull and Golding added: “People say it looks like a beach, but it plays really well.

“That’s something I had to discuss with the management team, Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] and Kev [Sinfield, director of rugby].

“I am not bothered what people say if it allows us to play fast rugby and get two points.

“That’s what we did, we applied sand quite regularly to make a fast, stable surface to enable the players to gain purchase – rather than it turning into a mudbath.”

The break has allowed Golding time to work on the pitch, but – with no clear indication when rugby will resume – he explained: “I don’t want to throw everything into recovery yet.

“It’s a bit like a finely-tuned athlete, you don’t want to hand it all the supplements and everything it requires now because it’s going to keep needing that.

“It is a sand-based surface so it drains very quickly and leaches nutrients very quickly, so I have to be careful with what I am applying.”

Life won’t get any less hectic for Golding – and his team – when the season eventually resumes.

Midweek matches are likely as Super League clubs race to make up for lost time, but Golding has no concerns over having to prepare the ground for multiple games in a short space of time.

He stressed: “I don’t see it as a bad thing.

“You get some groundsmen who are very much ‘keep off the pitch’, but I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the sport so let’s get as many games on as we can and get back to enjoying sport.”

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Tribute to groundsman Reg Lomas

Tribute to groundsman Reg Lomas: Reg Lomas, former head groundsman at Stratford and Cheltenham racecourses, has died at the age of 88.

Lomas was awarded an MBE in 2002 for his work within racing and had a race run at Ludlow in his honour in October 2005, the Reg Lomas Lifetime In Racing Handicap Chase.

Tribute to groundsman Reg Lomas

Tribute to groundsman Reg Lomas

“He was a great friend of mine and I worked with him for many years,” said Philip Arkwright, former clerk of the course at Cheltenham.

“I grabbed him when he retired from Stratford, having been there for a long time, and he came to Cheltenham until I retired in 2000. He was a remarkable groundsman.”

After leaving the racecourse, Arkwright nominated Lomas for an MBE to show his appreciation and paid tribute to his practical ability.

He said: “I put him up for an MBE shortly after I retired on account of his groundwork, and he was awarded it in 2002.

“He was very knowledgeable and that wasn’t born out of scientific knowledge, but of practical years looking at turf and dealing with different types of it.

“He was a groundsman even when I was hunter-chasing back in the mid-1960s, so he did it for a good 50 years. He was bloody good at his job.”

Lomas, who is survived by wife Elizabeth, retired in June 2001 at the age of 69, but remained an active participant in the sport alongside trainer Jonjo O’Neill.

“When Reg retired Jonjo made quite a lot of use of him,” said Arkwright. “He knew him very well and used his brain a lot. They were huge mates and lived within half a mile of each other.”

Arkwright added: “From the moment I retired in 2000 we spoke on nearly every Saturday. He was a delightful man.”

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Groundsman recognised at seminar

Groundsman recognised at seminar: Westbury & District Cricket Club’s groundsman, Gordon Gill, was invited to join top groundsmen from across the country to speak about his experience at a seminar held last month. 

He was joined by Vic Demain (head groundsman at  Durham CCC), Karl McDermott (head groundsman at  MCC/Lords), Sean Williams (head groundsman at Gloucestershire CCC) and former Australian test batsman Marcus North at Durham CCC.

Groundsman recognised at seminar

Groundsman recognised at seminar

 Gordon spent two days at Durham County Cricket Club speaking to both paid and volunteer groundsmen from clubs all over the country about the experience he has gained over the years at Westbury & District Cricket Club, Bath Cricket Club and as an ECB pitch advisor. 

Gordon Gill said, “It was a very informative and enjoyable experience, it was great to share a platform with head groundsmen from prestigious stadiums such as Lords, Twickenham and Murrayfield  as well as from top venues such as Gloucestershire CCC and Durham CCC. 

“A very big thank you should go to Dennis/Sisis for sponsoring this annual event to get grassroots cricket groundsmen together to share their experience and knowledge.”

The club said, “As a club we are proud to know that Gordon is up there with the best groundsmen in the country and it is a pleasure for ex-players and current players to have played/play on pitches that Gordon has produced. If anyone has any questions about maintenance of a pitch and would like to learn, please do not hesitate to contact the club at www.westburyanddistrict cc.co.uk.”

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S&B groundsman passes away

S&B groundsman passes away: The name Peter Dury will probably mean little to the current generation of Southport & Birkdale’s players or supporters.

Yet between 1961 and 1965 Dury, who died last month, built a reputation as the finest groundsman in the club’s history.

S&B groundsman passes away

S&B groundsman passes away

Moreover in a working life spanning half a century Dury carved out an impressive career in the sports and landscape industry as an inventor, pioneer of performance standards and a high-quality manager of playing facilities.

In 1961 S&B were still reeling from the sudden death of their groundsman Bert Ball
the previous June. The committee took the bold step to appoint 26-year-old Dury, who had previously been employed by the Derby Parks Department.

As a youngster Peter had been on Nottinghamshire’s ground staff and had even appeared in some second XI matches. He was also a qualified coach but it was as a groundsman that he made an immediate impact at Trafalgar Road.

County cricketers spoke of the excellence of Dury’s wickets and S&B’s historian, the late Ken Porter, wrote of him: “His keen love of the game, motivated by his sense of industry, ensured that the wicket and outfield reached a standard never previously attained. He never spared himself in ensuring that only the best was good enough”.

Dury also played some cricket on the pitches he had prepared.

He was a useful spin bowler and gifted batsman, although his groundsman’s duties largely restricted his appearances to Sunday games.

Nevertheless he scored a century against Crawfords in June 1964 before going out during the tea interval to prepare the wicket for the second innings of the match.

In 1964 Dury was one of only eight men in the country to be awarded the National Diploma of the National Association of Groundsmen.

This was the first of a myriad of awards which he was to earn in the years that followed.

He left S&B in 1965 to take up a more lucrative appointment as site supervisor for the Parks Department of Nuneaton Council and from there his career really took off.

Dury was recognised as a specialist in synthetic turf pitch and playground surfaces, and equally as a leading expert in natural turf pitch construction across the world. His talents were recognised in 2002 when he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Essex.

In addition he received a life-time achievement award from the Institute of Groundsmanship the following year, when he also received the National Playing Fields Association President’s award.

He received the ECB Award for services to cricket in 2010 and two years later Peter was presented with an MBE for services to groundsmanship.

In 2018 Peter became the only person ever to receive a second lifetime’s achievement award from the Institute of Groundsmanship.

John McPartlin, who first met Peter when just 12 years old, recalls: “He was a lovely man and patiently put up with a few of us haunting the ground every day in the school holidays, following him around and asking him questions.

“At 11am we would all go and have a cup of tea with Peter and sitting around the old battered table he shared his sandwiches and cricketing knowledge, and without realising it, we would all be drawn into the hinterland of knowledge and tradition which makes cricket such a wonderful game.”

Peter is survived by his wife, Brenda and three sons.

His funeral will take place at 1pm on February 10 at Wilford Hill, Crematorium, Nottingham.

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Ben Hastie, Head Groundsman at Cheltenham Racecourse has reported fantastic results after embarking on a long-term strategy of scarifying and overseeding with Limagrain UK’s MM60 grass seed.

MM60 the top tip at Cheltenham

MM60 the top tip at Cheltenham : Ben Hastie, Head Groundsman at Cheltenham Racecourse has reported fantastic results after embarking on a long-term strategy of scarifying and overseeding with Limagrain UK’s MM60 grass seed. 

MM60 the top tip at Cheltenham :
Ben started in the industry as a greenkeeper but from a young age his passion was always horse racing. It was for this reason that while working at a golf club, he volunteered his services to Warwick and Stratford racecourses.

Ben Hastie, Head Groundsman at Cheltenham Racecourse has reported fantastic results after embarking on a long-term strategy of scarifying and overseeding with Limagrain UK’s MM60 grass seed.

Ben Hastie, Head Groundsman at Cheltenham Racecourse has reported fantastic results after embarking on a long-term strategy of scarifying and overseeding with Limagrain UK’s MM60 grass seed.

His persistence paid off and in 2006 he was rewarded with a full-time job at Cheltenham Racecourse. Thirteen years later and Ben is the Head Groundsman overseeing eleven full-time members of staff.

Throughout this time, Limagrain’s MM60 has always been the seed of choice for the course. In fact, MM60 has been relied on at Cheltenham for over 25 years and Ben recalls a rigorous seed trial early in his tenure when MM60 proved exactly why it has been the number one choice for so long.

“I remember when I first started in 2006, we did a trial on the highest part of the track,” said Ben. “In this trial we tried to work out the best seed for us because the climate at Cheltenham can be a little bit different to everywhere else – the highest point of the track gets very windy and it can get incredibly cold.

“We trialled 8-10 different mixtures in which we did lots of various tests in numerous conditions. We found that the MM60 was by far the best for what we needed, and we haven’t looked back since then.”

Limagrain’s leading MM60 winter sport mixture is a 100% ryegrass formula which is perfect in Ben’s quest to achieve consistency throughout the whole course. A strict regime of scarifying and overseeding during renovations has been key according to Ben.

“The one thing I want from the racecourse is consistency and my ultimate goal is to see a blend of ryegrass all the way through the course without any fescues or bents. Obviously, annual meadow-grasses are particularly hard to control but we now have a racecourse that has approximately 95% of pure ryegrass. This has been largely thanks to scarifying and overseeding at the right times.

“Doing this consistently over the years has resulted in the ryegrass holding up more than it ever has, it is helping with disease, helping to keep moisture in there where it is needed, helping the recovery rate and it is also providing a better coverage which makes the course look so much better.”

Photo of Cheltenham Racecourse from above.

Ben and his team start this process immediately after the last race meeting in May and they carry out the same programme across all three racecourses – the Old Course, the New Course and the Cross-Country Steeplechase Course. After the rails and hurdles have been removed, the turf will be cut from its racing height of 4.5 inches down to 2 inches. It is at this point that the scarifying begins, and this can take approximately a month.

When it comes to overseeding, Ben admits that it is a question of judgement and can depend on the climate and identifying the areas which need it most. As you would expect, the take-offs and landings experience the most amount of damage and these areas are constantly repaired throughout the race season.

“We have a team of 40 ‘treaders’ on a race day,” said Ben. “They will apply a mixture of soil and MM60 seed which will be put down with a trowel. This ensures that every single horse hoof print is filled in, levelled and that the germination process starts early.”

Germination is something that the MM60 excels in thanks to the inclusion of Headstart GOLD® – a revolutionary grass seed coating that ensures rapid germination and catalyses incredible growth speeds. The seed also has a high disease resistance and fantastic aesthetic qualities – all of which have impressed Ben.

“You know with MM60 that you are going to get great growth and the colour is brilliant. Because we are predominantly a winter sport, we need germination at low temperatures and I know that the MM60 will still be growing even if soil temperatures are 5 or 6 degrees when we are racing in December or January.

“It is a great product and the health of the turf it produces is better than anything I have seen before.”

For further information, please contact Limagrain UK on 01472 371471 or visit the company’s website www.lgseeds.co.uk/mm

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Cricket groundsman to stand down

Cricket groundsman to stand down: He has become one of the recognisable figures in north-east cricket over the last 20 years.

But now, Kenny McCurdie, the head groundsman at Aberdeenshire CC, has confirmed he is stepping down from the role at the end of March.

Cricket groundsman to stand down

Regarded as one of the country’s best pitch preparers, McCurdie has won a string of national awards  – he was groundsman of the year seven times in 11 seasons from 2000 to 2011 – and worked with Cricket Scotland in getting Mannofield ready for high-profile international matches against the likes of England and New Zealand.

Just last summer, he was responsible for the venue which staged the inaugural World Cricket League matches between the Scots, Oman and Papua New Guinea, all of which were played despite the poor weather which ravaged the domestic season.

He also toiled tirelessly with his Shire colleagues to repair the damage after the ground fell victim to vandals in 2011.

McCurdie told the Press and Journal: “There have been many highlights during my tenure, but the job is all about flexibility and the fact you need to learn to be able to work with Nature, not against it.

“It is especially gratifying, having had a poor week of weather, still being able to unveil a quality pitch on a Saturday and although, as a groundsman, you’ll not be able to please all the people all the time, I’ll be glad to shed my thick skin when I hang up my boots.”

Not even having his arm in a sling in 2014 – after he tore a muscle – could prevent him from carrying out his duties before and after the Scotland v England contest.

McCurdie has confirmed he will be leaving Mannofield at the start of the new season for decidedly warmer climes in Gran Canaria.

But he is justly proud of producing constantly good pitches at the game’s most northerly ODI venue which for many years boasted the world’s highest one-day score – when New Zealand scored 402 for 2 against Ireland in 2008.

Former Scotland bowler, Paul Hoffmann, said he had learned a huge amount from talking to McCurdie down the years, before himself becoming a groundsman.

He added: “He gave me so many tips and I always thought he had the best job in the world, doing something he loves and living at the ground.

“He knows so much about the science, but, most of all, he is brilliant groundsman and a wonderful, kind gentleman.”

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Tributes for Burton groundsman

Tributes for Burton groundsman: Tributes have been paid to a green-fingered South Derbyshire man who tended to Burton Albion’s hallowed turf more than 30 years.

Alan Roberts has sadly died at home, aged 88.

Tributes for Burton groundsman

Mr Roberts worked most of his life as a coal sampler at Rawdon Pit, but in his spare time enjoyed looking after the bowling greens in and around Swadlincote.

He always had a love of football and was delighted to become the Brewers’ groundsman, first at Eton Park and later at The Pirelli Stadium.

Alan first started tending the pitch in the early 1980s, when Neil Warnock was manager, and continued until after the club moved to the Pirelli, which holds nearly 7,000 fans, in 2005.

His son, Paul, said: “He only really stopped because at his age when they moved to full-time at the new ground. That was too much for him.

“He was always there most mornings with different volunteers helping him at different times, quite often supporters who would come in if there was snow or waterlogged pitches.

“The football was his first priority, but he also looked after the bowls green at Newhall Social and quite a few other people asked him to help their groundsman. People used to pick his brains when things went wrong.

“He was a farm labourer in his early life and that is where he picked up the skills and his real love was always working outside.

“I was lucky enough to referee at a decent level and went to grounds all over the country and my dad was always keen to go with me when he could and if we turned up at a waterlogged pitch and I thought the game would be off he would say ‘ask the groundsman, he knows better than anybody’.

“He could walk on any pitch, bend down and tell you what type of grass it was. He absolutely loved it.”

Alan who was 88, passed away at home on Monday, November 4.

Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson, said: “It was very sad to hear that such a great servant to the football club had passed away.

“Alan will be fondly remembered by the many people he worked with over the years after battling with all the elements to make sure our games went ahead.

“Groundsmen are the unsung heroes without whom we could not enjoy football matches on a Saturday afternoon.

“Our thoughts are with his wife, Joyce, and all his family and friends at this time.”

Alan is remembered by Joyce, Paul – and Paul’s cousin, David, who Alan and Joyce brought up from an early age.

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Alaves groundsman nets award

Alaves groundsman nets award: John Stewart, from Laurieston, has been named the best groundsman in Spanish football in the year 2019 for his work on Deportivo Alaves’ Mendizorrotza Stadium pitch.

The 49-year-old was presented with his award and trophy at the annual La Liga greenkeeper’s dinner in Madrid last week, becoming the latest local sport and horticulture award winner after Falkirk’s Jim.

Alaves groundsman nets award

He told The Falkirk Herald: “It’s fantastic to receive an award from people who know what they’re talking about and what you are going through.

“The preparation to a pitch is what’s key. We can cut it six times and line it two or three before a match – but there is a lot of pressure.

“You are dealing with a living thing and aspects outwith your control like the weather can affect it.

“It was a lovely surprise to receive the award and it’s surreal too. I was interviewed about it on the pitch on Saturday standing beside Roberto Carlos. You do get up close to a lot of big names.”

John’s Spanish story began a lot further away though – on the greens and fairways of the golf course in America but he switched to football some ten years ago while in Spain. He took up the head green keeping role at Real Sociedad, later moving to Alaves, near his home in Vitoria which he shares with wife Maria and their two children.

Before moving away, John and his brothers Colin and Tom, were members of Wallacestone Pipe Band. Their father, also Tom – a retired local police officer – said the “whole family are immensely proud of what John has achieved”.

Back home John also worked six months on the Falkirk Tryst course. While in America tutoring piping and working on the greens he befriended US Open winner Payne Stewart, playing the pipes at his memorial service and also at the funeral of Seve Ballesteros.

Piping continues to be a passion and John added: “Just after the game with Real Madrid on Saturday I had to dash away and play at a whisky tasting. It was quite a contrast.”

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