Baldwin said: “This is a major honour — the pinnacle of the profession. I’m delighted to win the Premier League award and to take the IoG award at Saltex. It’s a great honour, not just for myself but for all my colleagues at Spurs, without whom I couldn’t have won. So respect to them and everyone in the grounds department. It’s a big honour for the club.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to Steve Braddock, head groundsman at Arsenal, with whom I spent six years at Highbury. Without him I wouldn’t have achieved or be anywhere near where I am today.”
Baldwin said the future for him was to oversee the building of a new training ground for Spurs at Enfield. The centre of excellence will house first-team and apprentice players if it gains planning permission from Enfield Council later this year.
Wembley grounds manager Steve Welch said: “This is about recognition for groundsmen. Many are recognised through these awards though you only get one winner. But it’s important groundsmanship as a whole is recognised and the awards do that.
“The awards bring to the forefront the continuing aim to improve standards to ensure good grass pitches will always beat third generation artificial pitches.”
FA groundsmen of the year
League Two Dave Brown, Hartlepool Utd; League One Ewan Hunter, Nottingham Forest; Championship Gary Kemp, Norwich City; Premier League Darren Baldwin, Tottenham Hotspur; IoG Professional Groundsman of the Year Darren Baldwin.
Conference James Skachill, Hyde Utd; Southern League Gordon
Curtis, Tiverton Town; Northern Premier Peter McGee, Skelmersdale Utd; Isthmian League Alan Mitchell, Wingate and Finchley; Step 3/4 Gordon Curtis, Tiverton Town; Step 5/6 Malcolm Simons, North Greenford Utd; Step 7 and below Joe Wilson, Tockwith.
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