Welcome to our week of the Best of British,we shall be focusing on two Groundsman who have taken up the challenge to work abroad and have more than prospered and this is without exception,we are becoming a great export to the worlds leading sports facilities.
Stuart, tell us a little bit about you and how did you end up in Spain?
I have been a groundsman since I left school in 2006 working at schools, councils, amateur clubs and finally into the professional game at Hampshire.
What made you swap Hampshire CCC for La Manga and what’s the resort like sport wise?
The opportunity to work abroad at a resort with no reputation was too good to turn down, hopefully I’ve managed to give them the reputation they deserve! The resort has to be one of the best of in the world not many places will have 3 golf courses, 8 football pitches, 28 clay/hard tennis courts, 23 grass nets and 2 cricket grounds in one resort!
What the biggest challenge of working in Spain, compared to working in the UK?
The temperatures, from June to September the temperature didn’t drop below 20c spent most of the time day and night above 25c with a high of 41c!
What kind of grass seed and loam do you use and where do you source it from?
The loam is a mix of locally sourced clay/sand, it is a straight 50/50 mix of clay and sand. The seed is a rye which has been produced to withstand the high temperatures and salty water.
How’s your Spanish?
While we are all watching it rain, what happening your end in January and when does your season start and end?
There is no season as such here as you can play cricket 12 months of the year but the busy periods are March/April and October. In 2019 there was cricket every month apart from August and December (We did have a booking for December but was cancelled last minute). In January we have England Women using the facilities as preparation for the T20 World Cup.
How is a typical pitch preparation different in Spain, rather than back here in the uk?
All depends on the time of year, the pitches I’m preparing now for England will have a 14 day prep whereas the pitches I prepared in June for the ICC European Qualifier and July for the ECL took 4 days.
Bet you miss the British weather, right?
As strange as it sounds yes I do!!
What type of machinery do you have, guessing must be similar to what you used in the UK?
Very similar to what we have in the UK. My shed consists of a Dennis FT610, John Deere Greens Mower, 3ft Autoroller, Pedestrian Graden, Truspred. Everything else is shared with the football/golf courses, far too much to list!
What can we learn from preparing /repairing pitches from your experience in Spain, if any?
Preparing pitches is all but the same as we all do in England but repairing after use has its challenges. Rye doesn’t like the 50% clay and 40c temperatures much!
Did you make it home for Christmas and how often to your get back home to the UK?
Seeing as this will be our only Christmas in Spain we decided to have family over and spend it in Spain. Managed to get back a handful of times since I’ve been here, mainly to keep my Dorset customers happy.
Go on rub it in, what is a typical day off spent doing, while we are all watching the rain as l write this?
Most days off are spent either at the beach bar or out exploring what this part of Spain has to offer.
What does the future hold for you Stuart, any projects/goals to reach ahead ?
I have already achieved more than I could ever have imagined in my year here. Nearly half the counties enquired about using the facility for 2020 pre season, managing to get England Women to use it as prep for the World Cup and with the ECL back again next year it has a very successful 18 months for the resort! All that made the decision to accept my new role back in England a slightly tougher one but as much as Spain is a great place to work the opportunity to move into the football world was too good to turn down.
Video below of the great facilites at La Manga sports complex
Pictures above curtsey of pitchcare/com and murciatoday.com
Do not forget to look out for our other blog being released this week from the current best football Groundsman in Spain.
Last plug,our new look website is out tomorrow ,its only stage one due to the quality of site we want to produce, so very time consuming on top of our day jobs.
l believe you are going to love the new look site and l can not personally wait till the whole revamped is completed by Summer.
Thanks for being part of our journey.