BECCLES Town have been crowned winners of the Suffolk FA Groundsman of the Year sponsored by Ransomes at the first time of asking.
The club had never previously entered the competition, which is open to clubs in the county at Step 7 and below.
The five members of the Judging Panel visited this year’s seven entrants on Thursday and were unanimous in their choice of Beccles Town as winner.
Chris Brown and Shaun Soloman (pictured above) are joint groundsmen at the club, who play in the Premier Division of the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination.
Tony Adams of Claydon, the 2017 winner, was runner-up and Bryan Simmonds of Bacton United 89, who won the competition in 2016, was third.
Beccles Town will receive £200 to be spent on groundscare equipment, with Claydon receiving £100 and Bacton united 89 £50.
The groundsmen from all three clubs will be invited to attend the Suffolk FA Awards Ceremony later this year to receive their prizes.
Coddenham Athletic, Leiston St Margarets, Old Newton United and Westerfield United were the other four clubs to enter the competition.
Beccles Town Vice-Chairman Mark Jermey, who nominated Chris Brown and Shaun Soloman, said: “I am so delighted for Chris and Solly, who have transformed College Meadow over the past few years.
“They have transformed not only the playing surface but the facilities at College Meadow. Their most outstanding quality, aside from hard work, is their ability to enthuse others to donate time and resources.”
Ipswich Town FC Head Groundsman Ben Connell, who led the Judging Panel, said: “I have been impressed with the groundsmen’s innovation and can-do attitude in making and servicing their own machinery to help maintain their football pitches.
“This has influenced the quality we have seen today.”
This year's Judging Panel (left to right) Ben Connell, Will Parker, Phil Jeggo, Jodie Allard and Rob Hayward.
Will Parker of Parkers Pitches, who sponsors the Suffolk FA Pitch Improvement Programme, said: “It was a pleasure to once again be involved with the judging of the Groundsman of the year awards and great to see some new faces on our travels.
“I am always very impressed with the hard work and dedication put in by these often unsung vital members of their respective clubs.”
Phil Jeggo, Regional Pitch Advisor for the Institute of Groundsmen, said: “It is very encouraging to see the increase in the number of entries this year in the county.
“Full credit to all the volunteer groundsmen for producing high-quality standard pitches in the challenging conditions we’ve experienced over the past 12 months.”
Rob Hayward, Export Sales Manager for sponsors Ransomes said: “I admire the enthusiasm of all the groundsmen that work hard with small, limited budgets. They get the most from basic, ageing machines to allow them to carry on.
“All of the pitches looked very good for this time of the season, and I look forward to seeing the pitches looking even better nest season.”
Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Jodie Allard added: “Thank you to all the clubs who entered this year’s competition, and to our sponsors Ransomes for their support again this season.
“This year showcased a very competitive standard of high-quality pitches which are a real testament to the dedication of the groundsmen involve ed.
“A big thank you must also goes to our Judging Panel Phil, Ben, Will and Rob for their support of the competition.”
To find out more about the Suffolk FA Pitch Improvement Programme click here