Shaun's Burnham Labour of Love

“A LABOUR of Love” was the motivation behind Burnham Ramblers Football Club's Shaun Pugh after he was named as runner-up in The Football Association's Groundsman of the Year awards for Steps Five and Six at a recent home game adjacent to the Leslie Field pitch he had devotedly maintained.

“A Labour of Love” was the motivation behind Burnham Ramblers Football Club's Shaun Pugh after he was named as runner-up in The Football Association's Groundsman of the Year awards for Steps Five and Six at a recent home game adjacent to the Leslie Field pitch he had devotedly maintained.

Shaun was named in second place behind Brian Foley from Northamptonshire club Cogenhoe United in the annual awards which took place at Windsor Racecourse in September and Essex County Football Association Vice-Chairman, Eddie Rhymes, paid a visit to the Essex Senior Cup Third Round tie against Billericay Town on Tuesday, November 10 to present him with his trophy and framed certificate.

“Representatives of The FA came to have a look at our pitch back in March and I didn't hear anything further until receiving a letter inviting me to a presentation,” recalled Pugh, who first joined Ramblers to assist with their Eastern Junior Alliance youth side in 1999 before linking-up with the main club's committee two years later. “It was an invitation I accepted but in the end I couldn't actually attend due to work commitments.”

It was then somewhat of a shock when the Essex Senior League high-fliers' main Groundsman discovered he'd been named as a runner-up, Pugh continuing: “Because I unfortunately wasn't able to make the presentation, I obviously didn't find out that day. I actually discovered I'd finished second whilst reading an article in the Non-League Paper the following weekend! It's fair to say it came as a pleasant surprise!”


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Shaun started working solely on the pitch in 2005 and now combines his role with that of Club Secretary, taking care of sides in the Senior, Olympian and Mid-Essex Leagues. He continued: “Beforehand we had a group of around four who looked after the surface, but for whatever reason it didn't quite work out so I took sole control of it. It was tough at first as we previously had mushroom compost spread over the pitch with the intention of helping the grass grow! Unfortunately it didn't help at all!”

The twice-named Senior League 'Secretary of the Year' left no stone unturned in his search for a top-class surface and his hard work has clearly paid off, with Ramblers currently top of the league. He proudly claimed: “I've spoken to other groundsmen to pick up as many tips and pieces of advice as possible. I give the pitch three 'feeds' each year, annually fertilise it and give it aeration, which means ensuring the grass can breath which is helped by spiking it each month. To be Fixture Secretary as well as working on the pitch can be tough, but it's a labour of love. I only spend three hours working on it on a Friday evening then more on a Saturday morning, but it seems to be enough!”

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