Ward honoured by groundsman award
WORKING at altitude and with seaweed has not stopped Forest Green Rovers groundsman Stewart Ward from cultivating one of the best Conference pitches in the country.
Ward has been recognised for his efforts with third prize in the Football Conference groundsman of the year awards – and the second best in the Conference Premier.
That comes after a challenging year that has seen Ward battle with a harsh winter – especially at the raised heights of the New Lawn – and with a change of approach.
Ward, who joined Rovers as groundsman in August 2010, has overseen major improvements to the surface as boss Dave Hockaday seeks a slick, fast-passing surface.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
He has also been charged with creating the nation's first completely organic football pitch, using rare fertilisers such as seaweed in his pursuit of perfection.
Ward said: "It is an honour to be recognised considering the massive changes that have been implemented over the past year.
"It's been a challenge to create a surface that not only suits the style of fast-passing game that David Hockaday wants Forest Green to play.
"But also one stands up to the rigours of 30-odd games through a particularly cold winter and at the third highest altitude of any stadium in the country.
"Added to that we've been transforming our approach in order to create an organic football pitch, using treatments such as natural organic fertilisers like seaweed rather than typical energy intensive nitrogen-based ones.
"We're using methods no one has tried before on a football pitch and it's been a steep learning curve, so to grab third place in such a transitional year is great, but I'm a perfectionist and we're confident the pitch will be even better this season.
"We want a surface that allows us to play fast, attacking football throughout the season, and is the best quality, most eco-friendly pitch in the league."
The awards, now in their tenth year, were set up to recognise the contribution of the unsung heroes of grassroots football.
The overall award for the 68 Blue Square Bet Premier, North and South clubs went to Alfreton Town groundsman Rob Brooks.
Graham Osbourne of Blue Square Bet North outfit FC Halifax Town took second place, with Ward beating Hyde's Paul Eddlestone and Farnborough's Peter Howard to third place.
Andrew King, facilities and investment administrator at the Football Association, was glowing in his praise for the overall standard of pitches.
"The judges reported a particularly high standard of groundsmanship across the country despite the adverse winter weather," he said.