Wealdstone’s ground staff at The Vale led with such dedication by Paul ‘Fingers’ Fruin have had their excellent work recognised. Together with several other clubs, Wealdstone will be flying the flag for the Ryman League at the 2014 Football Association Groundsmen of the Year Awards.
The green-fingered volunteers have been chosen to represent the Ryman League’s 72 clubs at the FA’s prestigious annual event by judges made up of the League’s Officers and Directors. They considered the marks awarded by match officials on the standard of pitches over the season as well as taking into account whether any professional help was given in the preparation of playing surfaces.
The Ryman’s representatives are now in the running to beat off competition from their Southern League and the Northern Premier League rivals for the title of FA Step 3-4 Groundsman of the Year.
The finals are due to take place at the end of the campaign and the next stage of the competition will see on-site assessments at the nominated grounds by the FA’s own expert panel, made up of six groundsmen from Premier League and Football League clubs.
They’ll not only look at the quality of the pitches but also take into consideration the finalists’ skills and knowledge, their ambitions for the pitch, the resources available to them, how often the pitch is used and the amount of time they are able to work on the surface.
Last season’s 12th annual awards were held at the FA’s new National Football Centre at St George’s Park near Burton. Bognor Regis Town are in the running for top honours for the second successive season after their former groundsman Brian Quinnell won last season’s Ryman League category with Merstham’s Martin Burr taking second place.