Each year, Turf Business asks the industry to name the individual or organisation they feel to be the most influential. As another year closes so too have the polls for the 2017 Top Influencer Award.
While the 2016 award went to Paul Burgess of Real Madrid CF, during 2017 there were familiar faces as well as new names on the ballot to win this deserving accolade.
We’d like to thank our sponsor, Kubota UK, for all their support. Adrian Langmead, Groundcare Business Development Manager for Kubota UK, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to have sponsored this year’s Top Turf Influencer Award with Turf Business.
A huge congratulation to our title winner, the runners up and to all of our notable nominees. The Top Influencer Award 2017’s will be presented to our worthy winner at this month’s BTME. But, before that happens, it’s time to take a look at our full list of influential nominees and to thank you all for your votes.
Honorable mentions and in no particular order…
John Ledwidge – Leicester City FC
Ryan Golding – Leeds Rhinos & Yorkshire Carnegie
Jim Croxton – BIGGA
John Hewitt – Hewitts Sports Turf
The IOG – Institute of Groundsmanship
Lee Strutt – Royal Automobile Club
Neil Stubley – AELTC Wimbledon
Adrian Kay – York Racecourse
Steve Chappell – Gleneagles
Chris Wood – ECB
Close contenders in alphabetical order…
Darren Baldwin – Tottenham Hotspur
As Head of Playing Surfaces & Estates at Tottenham Hotspur, Darren has been instrumental in the development of new White Hart Lane. Tottenham may be taking up residence in Wembley Stadium while their new home is being built, but Darren hasn’t rested on his laurels – far from it. Having been an award-winning groundsman in his own right, he is using this experience and knowledge to shape the future of the groundbreaking, which will house just over 61,000 seats once complete – the biggest stadium in London.
Paul Burgess – Real Madrid
Last year’s winner Paul Burgess makes the list again this year, fresh off his win at November’s IOG Awards. The Head Groundsman at Real Madrid C.F. was presented with the Special Recognition Award following a special pre-recorded video message from former coach, Arsène Wenger, one of several awards throughout his 21-year career, Earlier this year, he told Sports Venue Business of his delight at being named turf’s most influential figure in 2016: “Winning awards mean you’re doing something right,…this last award was especially pleasing because it was voted for by my peers.”
Richard Campey – Campey Turf Care Systems
Ever since Richard Campey founded Campey Turf Care Systems in 1986, the business has developed into a leading distributor of turf care products and parts throughout the UK and beyond for over 30 years. Whether he’s behind the scenes or in front of a camera, Richard is never far from operations of his eponymous enterprise. He told Turf Business earlier this year: “Despite all of the potential pitfalls, Campeys has overcome them and learned many a lesson on the way. We have earned a reputation for offering practical advice and superb aftercare service and deservedly so.”
Jason Booth – The IOG
Jason has been the Director of the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme with the IOG since 2014 in a programme jointly funded by the The FA, The ECB, The RFL, Sport England and the IOG. Under his direction, the programme has now been extended to reach groundstaff and improve the quality of pitches all over the UK. When not spending his time travelling country or helping to arrange SALTEX, Jason continues to be a vocal advocate for the groundsmanship industry, groundsmanship as a career, as well as to shine light on what the role the industry plays in professional sports as a whole.
Keith Kent – the RFU
A groundsman for nearly 50 years, Keith Kent has learned a thing or two along the way. His busy career currently sees him working as both Head Groundsman at Twickenham Stadium as well as with the RFU’s Groundsmen Connected initiative. From weather conditions to fixtures, all things related to his beloved pitch are included and often shared as Keith makes around 100 visits to community rugby clubs per season to offer groundspeople help, guidance and advice regarding natural pitch maintenance.
Turfies Helpline – @TurfiesUnited Twitter feed
A newcomer @TurfiesUnited has made quite the stir online. Their account began in March 2016 as a space for greenkeepers to speak openly, honestly and anonymously about common issues. In addition to regular polls, they retweet UK weather and course conditions and highlight what greenkeepers are battling. @TurfiesUnited were quick to tweet that they had been shortlisted for our award. “We’ve been nominated for an award! Can you believe an account set up by humble Turfies has got this far?”
Well done to our most influential runners up
Roy Rigby – Manchester City FC
Roy Rigby is the Grounds Manager at the City Football Academy (CFA), the training grounds of Manchester City FC. The 80-acre site cost between £150-£200 million, and is home to 17 pitches (14 natural and three artificial). Although his name now may be one that’s synonymous with Manchester City FC, Roy’s career in turfcare has spanned decades, starting with the local council before working his way up to one of the top teams in the Premier League. Roy had a huge hand in shaping the new Football Academy, as the club asked him early on in the development process if he’d like to be involved. One pitch that benefit from Roy’s expertise in particular is the central pitch, a DESSO GrassMaster® installation complete with undersoil heating and a full aeration system. Roy’s work has been recognised by official bodies as well as by his peers, as he and his team won Premier League Pitch of the Year in 2001 and again in 2002.
Steve Braddock – Arsenal FC
Steve Braddock is a multi-award winning, self-professed “old school” groundsman, currently at the helm of the Training Facility at Arsenal FC. Steve has been honoured with numerous accolades in the past, including a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on him by the IOG. Having worked with Arsenal for many years, he is no stranger to producing top-quality pitches for high-pressure matches, in even the toughest of weather conditions. Back in 2013, Steve told aresnal.com how he felt the club supported his endeavours: “This club has always placed great emphasis on its playing surface, and that’s vital to me because I am a perfectionist and demand that we are at the very top of our industry. I think we are recognised as such, and that means a lot – we’ve got there through hard work, honesty and dedication. Those are values that I think apply to Arsenal as a whole – and that’s just a small part of why I’ve been so proud to contribute to the club I support.” Steve’s passion for producing top quality turf doesn’t stop at the top end of the league however; in November 2016, Steve joined Paul Burgess and groundstaff from Real Madrid on a trip to Cappielow, Greenock Morton, to find out how smaller clubs manage their pitches.
And, the Winner of the 2017 Top Influencer Award goes to…
Karl Standley – Wembley Stadium
Karl Standley became the Head Groundsman at Wembley Stadium in 2015, and in addition to this role is now also a member of the NFL Super Bowl Groundscrew. As Head Groundsman, Karl oversees a year-round team of three groundsman along with 25 matchday staff, creating playing surfaces for top sporting fixtures as well as preparing it for turnaround after concerts and other events. England’s national stadium is notoriously multipurpose, meaning there are a number of varying events taking place from football to Rugby Union, Rugby League, and in more recent years, NFL games. Arguably one of the most famous sporting events in the world, the NFL Super Bowl requires the highest quality of groundsmanship, which is why Karl has joined the team to maintain and prepare the stadium field and practice facilities for rehearsals, team run-throughs, and pre-game shows.
Congratulations Karl from all of us at Turf Business!