NORTH RIDING FA IS DELIGHTED TO UNVEIL THE COUNTY’S GROUNDSMAN OF THE YEAR AS STEVE COLLINS OF BEDALE JUNIOR FOOTBALL CLUB
The Groundsman of the Year awards is a nationwide competition for non-league football groundsmen.
The awards recognise the contribution of these unsung heroes, who work in all weather, often as volunteers, all year round, to make sure that thousands of matches can take place on a high standard of playing surface and with a very limited budget. The FA has a panel of judges – professional groundsmen themselves – who look at the quality of the pitch while also taking into consideration the skills and knowledge of the groundsman, their ambitions for the pitch, the resources available, how often the pitch is used, and the amount of time they are able to work on the pitch.
Steve, 38, who has volunteered many hours each week to the club, came out on top after judges visited Bedale’s Vasstech Arena and other grounds throughout the county during the 2019/20 season. Throughout the judging process, he was praised for his passion and dedication to his craft, as well as his deep knowledge of groundskeeping and will now go on to represent North Riding in the national awards.
North Riding FA Football Development Manager, Andy Clay, said: “We were extremely impressed with the ground, its overall appearance and the exceptional level of maintenance that it receives.
“What stood out the most though was Stephen’s passion, enthusiasm and knowledge and it was clear to see how much pride he takes in his work. I must also add that there was a sense of real teamwork and it was an absolute pleasure to meet and speak to all when we came over to visit.”
Meanwhile, Steve, who also coaches Bedale’s under-17 team, expressed his delight but also saved special praise for his team of helpers, Lee and Ben Morpeth, Dean Cuthbert and Michael Stanley.
He said: “We take great pride in all the facilities we offer at Bedale and it’s a great honour to receive this award. It’s been a real team effort involving a superb bunch of volunteers who range from teenagers to pensioners.”
Away from the pitch, Steve works as a supervisor with Aggregate Industries. However, he still ensures that his groundskeeping work remains of the highest standard, with his duties having doubled in recent years to 10 acres as Bedale purchased neighbouring fields.
As well as being home to 20 teams, the pitches are also used for district school events and coach education courses, sometimes seeing as many as 500 young players getting involved in football.
Despite this heavy usage and the extreme rain over the winter, Steve’s expertise ensured that - prior to Covid 19 - there was only one weekend all season where matches had to be cancelled, and that was due specifically to high winds.
Congratulations to Steve and his dedicated team of colleagues at Bedale for receiving this award.