Pat Hampson/ Surrey FA Groundsman of the Year

Pat Hampson, who was named Surrey County FA Groundman of the Year earlier this month, has spoken about the extraordinary commitment she makes to the grass roots game which helped her win the Award.

The AFC Walcountians groundskeeper, who came in to post in 1999 after a career as a dairy farmer, says she was shocked to be even nominated (done without her knowing by Club Secretary Paul Marsh), let alone to win the competition.

Pat regularly works six-day weeks at the Walcountians Sports Ground in Woodmansterne battling the elements to ensure the facilities are up to scratch for training and matches.

“I look after two full-sized football pitches, two 9-a-side pitches, five rugby pitches, two men’s and two ladies’ lacrosse pitches, an Astroturf section, and two cricket squares – they all keep me very busy!” said Pat.

“In total it’s about 40 acres and on a good day it takes me 9 hours on the mower to cut all the grass – that doesn’t take into account blockages and adjustments.

“On a typical day I’ll assess each pitch then start slitting the ground, which is done with spikes attached to a tractor. This helps with drainage and gets the wind in, then I need to sand all the goal areas. I still do all the pitch markings the old fashioned way with a bit of string,” Pat added.

This time of year always finds the British public glued to the weather forecast, but for Pat, she has to take particular note of what Mother Nature decides to do.

“Snow is my worst enemy. The Astroturf can take up to 40 hours to clear, as I’ve only got a shovel and can’t just push it to the sides, it needs to get completely off the facility. The forecast at the moment makes grim reading, but you just have to go day by day.”

Working outdoors in the snow is some people’s worst idea of an ‘office’, however Pat believes this a job she was born to do.

“I’ve always been a practical person and never really felt the cold. I love this job because it’s not mundane, I’m not stuck behind a desk doing a boring 9am to 5pm.

“The best part of my job is working hard all week and getting the match at the weekend on. Obviously the worst is when a game is called off! It’s difficult as players will be desperate to play and can give me grief – but it’s all part of the job though.”

Pat, along with Gary Cross (Holland Sports) and Martyn Grove (Hambledon FC), who came second and third respectively, will be honoured at the Surrey County FA Presentation Evening in July.

They will then be judged by six judges from groundsman at Premier League and Championship clubs across the country, taking into account their skills, knowledge, ambitions and resources available. There will be a further Awards night at St George’s Park.

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