BECCLES Town have won the Suffolk FA Groundsman of the Year competition for the second season running.
The competition, which is open to clubs who play at Step 7 and below across the county and was once again sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd, saw six clubs go head-to-head during judging on Tuesday.
After entering for the first time last year and being placed first, Beccles’ joint groundsmen Chris Brown (pictured above) and Shaun Soloman were again judged as this year’s winners.
They just pipped Adrian Waters of Halesworth Town, who had not previously entered, to this year’s title.
Third place this year went to Tony Adams of Claydon FC, the 2017 winner and last season’s runner-up.
The other three clubs who were visited by the judges were Bacton United 89 and Old Newton United, both previous winners of the competition, and Ransomes Sports, who were entering for the first time.
Beccles Town joint groundsman Shaun Soloman said: “This just makes it all worthwhile. We don’t do it to get recognition but for the town and the people of the town and especially the kids to be able to play on a decent pitch that we never had the chance to do as it used to be a mud bath.”
The Judging Panel was again led by Ipswich Town FC Head Groundsman Ben Connell.
He was accompanied by Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Jodie Allard, Institute of Groundsmen, Pitch Advisor East Phil Jeggo, Tim Parker of Suffolk FA Pitch Improvement Programme partners Parkers Pitches and Steve Alabaster, Regional Sales Manager of competition sponsors Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd.
The judges agreed that the competition is getting harder to judge each year as standards improve across Suffolk.
Ben Connell said: “Standards are getting better year on year. This is due to the huge commitment of the volunteer groundsmen and the support from The FA and the IOG.”
Jodie Allard said: “The quality on display during this year’s competition has been fantastic to see. A big thank you and well done to all groundsmen who have been entered into this competition, all of which volunteer many hours of their time into supporting grassroots football.
“Thank you also to our sponsors, Ransomes Jacobson and our panel of judges for their support again this season.”
Phil Jeggo said: “Full credit to all the groundsmen and ground staff we visited today. The standard of pitches was very high given the weather we have had this season. This competition gets harder to judge year after year.”
Tim Parker said: “Given the extreme weather conditions this autumn all the groundsmen deserve the highest praise for the quality of all the surfaces we have judged.”
Steve Alabaster said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to see volunteers in action across Suffolk. The standards shown by all who entered was extremely high in the most challenging conditions at the moment.”
In addition to being crowned as Groundsman of the Year, Beccles Town will win £200 to be spent on groundscare equipment.
Halesworth Town will receive £100 and the Claydon £50 to spend on groundscare equipment.
All three clubs will be invited to attend the Suffolk FA Awards Ceremony later in the year to receive their prizes.