Ashcroft wins Groundsman of the Year award

Arsenal’s Paul Ashcroft has won the Barclays Premier League's Groundsman of the Year award.

The Sports Turf Research Institute has revealed its findings after looking at playing surfaces in all the professional leagues in England.

Ashcroft, head groundsman at Arsenal, said: "It is fantastic news, my team and I have worked very hard this year. It's been a tough year, we have had plenty of games, but the weather has been on our side, and overall it has been a very successful year.

"The standard of groundsmanship in the Barclays Premier League is very high, it is probably the best in Europe, so to win this award is fantastic."

Ashcroft has worked for the Club for more than 11 years and says that the move to Emirates Stadium, while providing different challenges, has helped the ground staff stay ahead of the game.

"Highbury had open corners, and the stadium wasn't as big," he said. "The technology we had was a lot older, whereas now we have come to a new stadium, a new pitch structure with an artificial lighting system and that has helped us create probably a better playing surface than we had at Highbury.

"Arsenal have always invested in our budgets and helped us try to keep ahead of everyone else. That enables us to buy equipment and different products to stay ahead of people. We are very grateful for their continued support."

In a report, Dr Stephen Baker, Head of Soils and Sports Surface Science, praised the standard of Premier League pitches, saying they were "all to a very high standard".

Dr Baker noted that the participation of Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League had added to the usage of the pitch, but said that the Emirates surface had received the highest marks.

Four other clubs were highly commended for the work of their groundsmen: Jonathan Calderwood (Aston Villa), Terry Forsyth (Liverpool), Andrew Tylly and Mick Curran (Newcastle) and Darren Baldwin (Tottenham).

18 Apr 2012