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IOG Awards honour UK expertise
December 14, 2010

Almost 300 of the UK's and Europe's leading groundscare experts from both the professional and volunteer sector, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators such as Sport England CEO Jennie Price, have honoured the expertise, dedication and passion of the country's grounds profession at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards.

The packed Oscar-style ceremony at Cardiff's SWALEC Stadium, home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club, recognised leadership, innovation and outstanding achievement across every aspect of groundscare - from grassroots pitches to professional stadia, including all types of public and private sports venues, and it highlighted the progress of young/student grounds professionals as well as product development and employer considerations.

Hosted by talkSPORT Radio's Mark Saggers, the sell-out IOG Awards followed a day-long series of IOG Conference presentations by some of the biggest names in the industry on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as keynote speeches by Huw Jones, CEO of Sport Wales, and Ian Ricthie, CEO of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club and Director, Wembley National Stadium.

The winners of the 2010 IOG Industry Awards were:

Grass Roots Sports Ground of the Year

Winner: Leamington FC, Warwickshire

Finalist: Ewhurst Junior Football Club, Surrey

Home to Leamington FC, Leamington Lions (Ladies & Girls) & Leamington Brakes (Boys), Leamington FC is a FA community club that stages around 60 matches a year plus training sessions. The club is run on a voluntary basis with a part-time employed groundsman who works with an annual maintenance budget of around £6,500.

Volunteer Sports Grounds Management Team of the Year

Winner: Barnoldswick Town Football Club, Lancashire

Finalist: Pentyrch Sports Club, Cardiff

Established during the 1980s, Barnoldswick Town FC is based on land that was formerly pasture - and today, with careful pitch maintenance married with community support, the first class playing surface is in great demand as the local league clubs literally queue up to book their end of season finals.

Volunteer Sports Groundsman of the Year  

Sponsored by Mark Harrod

Winner: Andy Spetch, Bury St Edmunds RFC, Suffolk

Finalist: Craig Moore, Kings Sutton FC, Oxfordshire

Responsible for 15 acres of rugby pitches plus an all-weather training pitch, Andy Spetch has developed a maintenance strategy that has saved the club money through targeting spending -  the club does not own any equipment, so Andy negotiates with service providers to carry out any work in the most cost- effective way.

Public Sector Sports Ground of the Year

Sponsored by Vitax Supaturf

Winner: Bath Rugby Club

Finalist: St Paul's Catholic School, Milton Keynes

Bath's ground is not only home to the rugby club but also in the summer the temporary stand is removed to make way for the Somerset County Cricket club. Owned by the local council, the grounds and pitches are used for a host of other events including a half marathon, summer fairs and firework displays.

Public Sector Outdoor Facility of the Year

Sponsored by Bayer Environmental Science

Winner: Tameside Metropolitan Council, Greater Manchester

Finalist: Surrey University's Surrey Sports Park, Guildford

Tameside is pioneering a successful new approach to management of the borough's 68 sports pitches. A programme of pitch rejuvenation has almost halved the number of football matches called off - which equates to an additional 1,600 fixtures per year being played.

Environmental Project of the Year

Sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen

Winner: Leamington Football Club, Warwickshire

Finalist: British Sugar plc, Norfolk

Leamington FC's ground is characterised by environmentally-sympathetic factors including the fact that rain water run-off and pitch drainage is piped back into local water courses, landfill waste has been reduced by over 75 per cent and all new flora is focused on providing maximum food for the local bird and wildlife.

Employer of the Year

Winner: The Hurlingham Club, London

Finalist: Tottenham Hotspur FC, London

In addition to an agreed training cycle, the grounds and gardens maintenance team at the Hurlingham Club, an Investor in People club, enjoys a CPD programme and undergo an annual appraisal process which is linked to performance related pay. Also, the annual business development plan is available for all to see and regular meetings are held to discuss the strategies and the role s they will play in them.

Best Maintained Artificial Pitch of the Year

Sponsored by Charterhouse Turf Machinery and Kubota

Winner: Manchester United's Carrington training ground

Finalist: Eastbourne College, East Sussex

Both of Manchester United's two 3G artificial pitches are used on a daily basis for every level of academy and community football. Joe Pemberton and his team maintain the playability and safety of the surfaces via a routine of regular maintenance and checks.

Innovation in Grounds Maintenance

Sponsored by Sanli UK

Winner: Flow Control  (GB)

Finalist: Gartell & Sons

Flow Control has developed a no-spill can that deliver fuel in a very controlled way, and its innovative dead man's handle means  supply is immediately cut off when the can is dropped or knocked over. The customer list for this innovative development includes the Royal households of Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.

Most Promising Sports Turf Student of the Year

Winner: Nicholas Staff, Otley College, Suffolk

Finalist: Nicky Moore,University of Brighton 

Nicholas Staff has worked at Thorpness Golf Course on a part-time basis since leaving school and he is currently studying for a National Diploma in Horticulture, but has expressed a keen interest in sports turf by undertaking extra study and learning to maintain the University's pitches.

Young Groundsman of the Year

Sponsored by Harrod UK

Winner: Nick Phillips, Tottenham Hotspur FC

Finalist: Anthony Harry, Pencoed College, Wales

22-year-old Nick Phillips is deputy head groundsman at Tottenham's first team training ground. In addition to excellent personal interaction skills, Nick is a model of good timekeeping and punctuality and, importantly, is very enthusiastic about his work. He has so far gained   level 2 and 3 NVQ in Sports Turf maintenance and management .

Independent Schools & Colleges Sports Ground of the Year

Sponsored by Sports-e-Quipment

Winner: Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames

Finalist: St Albans School, Herts

This is the second year in succession that Shiplake has won this award! The college grounds embrace 44 acres for the main sports of rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis and athletics.  In addition to college use, the rugby pitches are also used by Oxfordshire RFU, while local primary schools also ultilise the grass athletics track, and the tennis courts are used by top class players, including Wimbledon seeds.

Spectator Sports Ground of the Year

Sponsored by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Sport England, The Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Premier League, the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union

Winner: Bolton Wanderers' Reebok Stadium, Lancashire

Finalist: Parc y Scarlets (Llanelli RFC), Wales

The 28,000-capacity Reebok boasts many attributes and accreditations, including being the winner for the last three years of a British Safety Council International Safety Award, plus it was the first Football Club to be awarded Carbon Trust Standard and it is a Groundworks Award winner for environmental innovation.

Professional Sports Ground Management Team of the Year

Sponsored by Campey Turf Care Systems and Imants BV

Winner: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, London

Finalist: Manchester City Football Club

Spurs employ s 10 full time groundsmen and two gardeners all of whom report to a grounds manager. The team is r esponsible for the main stadium at White Hart L ane , a 28 - acre first team training centre and a 30 - acre interim academy training centre - and they consistently produce first class surfaces at all these facilities.

Professional Football Grounds Management Team of the Year - the Alex R Millar Award

Sponsored by Environmental Turf Technology

Winner: Manchester City Football Club,

Finalist: Arsenal Football Club

Finalist: Nottingham Forest Football Club

The passion and the pride in the job that is consistently displayed by Roy Rigby and his grounds team at the club's training ground as well as at the City of Manchester Stadium exemplify the level of professionalism and standards that everyone aspires to.

Groundsman's Groundsman of the Year

Sponsored by DLf Trifolium and Johnsons Sport Seed

Winner: Iain Main, Surrey University's Surrey Sports Park

Finalist: Dean Gilasbey, Llanelli RFC

Finalist: Dan Duffy, Swansea's Liberty Stadium

Finalist: Stuart Kerrison, Essex County Cricket Club

Finalist: Graham Osbourne, Halifax Town RLFC

Finalist: Tony Sinclair, Manchester United FC

Iain Main manages 80 hectares of land, 40 hectares of which are dedicated to sport. Part of his role includes a major input on the long-term strategic issues and usage of the facilities which Iain constantly strives to improve while taking into account budget constraints and environmental impacts.  As a manager he is highly respected; he motivates guides, trains and supports his team

Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsored by Scotts Professional

Winner: Keith Boyce

Keith's reputation was founded during his time as head groundsman at Headingley where, often in difficult circumstances, he used skill and ingenuity to produce playing surfaces of the highest standard. Now in his 70s, Keith continues to produce similarly high quality pitches at the New Rover cricket club in Leeds.

All the above would be reason enough to win an award but throughout his career Keith has been an inspiration and mentor to many - his training courses at Headingley regularly attracted audiences of 200 at a time - and now, as then, he has always found time to offer advice or solutions to a problem. 

His former  apprentices have all progressed to prestigious positions and they now inspire a new generation.

There's no doubt that Keith is a unique and very special person.

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