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GATESHEAD GROUNDSMAN AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME

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A Gateshead Council groundsman is at the top of his game after being declared 'Local Authority Regional Groundsman ...
A Gateshead Council groundsman is at the top of his game after being declared 'Local Authority Regional Groundsman of the year'.

David Watson, 61, has worked for Gateshead Council for 29 years and is responsible for maintaining the football pitches and looking after the athletics track during the summer at Gateshead International Stadium.

Groundsman of the year David Watson

The Football Association's Groundsmen of the Year award is now in its fourth year and was set up to recognise the contribution of the people who make football at every level possible.

A member of the Institute of Groundmenship came to Gateshead International Stadium recently to judge Mr Watson on the pitch maintenance programme, equipment standards and interview him about his work.

Up against ground staff from six counties in the north of England, he was awarded the title for the north at a ceremony in Middlesborough recently and will now go through to the national finals in September.

Mr Watson said: 'I am over the moon. Premiership pitches host around 40 games a year and have specialised teams of staff dedicated to perfecting the shading on the pitch. At Gateshead Stadium we have 86 league matches alone and only one person to maintain the pitch but our standards are just as high. It is great to have all your hard work appreciated and to win this award is even better.'

Gateshead International Stadium is a top class facility for clubs in the borough and David has been involved with a number of world-class events including the World Veterans Athletics Championships, the SPAR European Cup and the last two Norwich Union British Grand Prix.

Michael McNestry, cabinet member for the environment at Gateshead Council said: 'This award was well deserved. In England seven million adults and five million children play football regularly and in Gateshead we have 51 football pitches and over 140 teams - that is a lot of gras s to maintain. Football is a hugely popular sport and we encourage it at all levels. The maintenance of the pitches to premiership standard is just as important and we have 15 dedicated groundsmen who work on this more specialised type of work.'

The results will be announced at the Football Association's 'Groundsmen of the Year' awards ceremony at Windsor racecourse in September.

Ends

Media Contact: Sam Reed, Gateshead Council, Tel: 0191 433 2018 Picture Caption:

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