Groundsmen of the year announced

Nine professionals have topped a horticultural premier league by winning or being highly commended in Groundsman of the Year for the npower football league.

"After a season when extreme weather pushed pitches to their limits the efforts of ground staff across the country have been recognised," according to the Institute of Groundsmanship.

Ewan Hunter at Nottingham Forest won the npower Championship accolade with Burnley’s Paul Bradshaw and Gary Kemp of Norwich City both highly commended.

Carlisle United’s David Mitchell scooped the award for league 1 while Joe Aylett of Milton Keynes Dons and Southampton’s Andrew Gray were highly commended.

Winner in npower league 2 was Anthony Haywood at Chesterfield; and highly commended awards went to Bradford City’s Michael Doyle and Shrewsbury Town’s Richard Barnett.

Grounds staff are marked by referees and away managers for each game, and evaluations include detailed pitch inspections and a review of management operations. Visits were carried out in late March and early April.

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