Continuing a long tradition when it comes to the quality of Villa Park’s playing surface, the Villa grounds staff proudly picked up the EFL award for Ground Team of the Season for the 2016/17 season.
Congrats to Karl Prescott and also Ian Hipkiss and Matt Jupp, that make up the team.
The state of the Villa Park pitch has always been up there with the best in the world, since the work of former head groundsman Jonathan Calderwood, who in 2013 was headhunted by Paris Saint-Germain.
Whatever obstacles come their way, like having to deal with the posts of the Rugby World Cup when Villa Park hosted a couple of games in 2015, the Villa ground team continue to produce a pitch (the current one is 11-years-old) that both the players and supporters can be proud of.
It’s just a crying shame that the current team can’t play the kind of football on it to do the surface justice.
According the EFL, the awards recognise the importance of the quality of pitches for professional football and acknowledge the clubs and their ground staff who consistently produce the best playing surfaces in the EFL.
In the Championship, beyond the winners, Derby County and Newcastle United were both highly commended too.
Next season Villa will get to play at the winners of the Division One award, with Champions Sheffield United picking up the award for that division. Highly recommended were Bolton (who need one point to also be promoted to the Championship) and Charlton.
In League Two, the winners were Carlisle United. Recommended were: Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth.
The EFL’s Grounds Team of the Season Awards are determined initially using marks from referees and away managers for each Sky Bet EFL game and are then followed by detailed pitch inspections and a review of management operations.
These visits were carried out by Dr Stephen Baker, Head of Sports Surface Technology at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).
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