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How I Started - Groundsman

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.



Name: Richard White

Job: Groundsman at Plymouth Argyle
Nationality: British
Richard White is the Head Groundsman at the English club, Plymouth Argyle FC, in the South West of England. His main duty is to maintain and cultivate the club's pitch at their Home Park stadium.
How did you first get into grounds-keeping?
"Well, I've only been working at Plymouth Argyle since July 2000, but I've had over fourteen years of experience attending to turf, in one form or another. Previously I worked on a local golf course as Head Green Keeper. Working as a grounds-man presented a new challenge. Clearly, the skills I learnt on the golf course are readily transferable. In fact, it's probably a lot easier for me to move from a golf course to a football pitch rather than the other way round."
Can you describe your job for us?
"Mainly, my job is to look after the pitch here. It's a busy pitch that sees a lot of action throughout the season, what with the first team squad, the reserves, and the youth team. The pitch is quite exposed to the elements so there is always lots to do. I've been particularly busy recently due to all this rain we've been having. I'm also responsible for looking after two training pitches nearby."
Can you share any "tricks of the trade" with us?
"The cutting of the pitch can be a tactical decision. For example, if you know that their opposition has got a particularly fast winger then you would cut the grass really short. Cutting it really short will mean that the ball will move quicker across the surface and hopefully off the pitch before their winger can get on to it. There are rules regarding the length of the grass so you've only got a bit of leeway to play with, but if you are clever it can really help."
Like players, do you have any ambitions to work at a bigger club?
"I love living in this part of the country but I would have to think quite hard about it if an offer came in from Arsenal or Chelsea. Obviously it would be lovely to work at a big club."
Finally, what advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
"There's no substitute for experience. However, I have supplemented my experience with formal qualifications. A couple of years ago I got both levels I & II NVQ in grounds-keeping through the local college. It's useful to do this but I think you need to get some experience behind you first. It's all very well learning the theory in the classroom but it's no use to you if you haven't already discovered that you're used to working outdoors. I got most of my knowledge handed on to me by an old expert. I have an assistant here and I like to think that I'm doing my best to pass what wisdom I have on to him. He's also doing a day release course at the local college."



May 2001


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