Adam Cooper – Regional pitch advisor (North West)
Many readers may not know that the Isle of Man has a thriving football community set up with a dedicated Island FA headed by Lewis Qualtrough. With over 20 clubs playing regular matches, the Island has a close-knit group of grounds people who do a fantastic job keeping their facilities to generally good standard, often with limited resources. Sadly, the clubs’ finances have been hit hard this season with the cancellation of the TT Races in 2020 and also in 2021 – an annual event where a large number of the clubs would normally benefit from letting their facilities as campsites.
However, the opening of the Football Foundation’s Enhanced Pitch Maintenance Fund early in 2020 has assisted the clubs, allowing them to continue through this difficult time.
The clubs and their extremely dedicated support pitch advisor Mike Atherton, who has supported them throughout, have made great use of the Grass Pitch Improvement Programme and 17 clubs have secured financial support from the Enhanced Maintenance fund - along with several others that have also received new machinery. Mike’s support has allowed the clubs to make good use of every penny of the allocation. When the recent Pitch Power submissions were made by the clubs as part of the GMA’s monitoring process, all achieved the ‘Good’ or ‘Advanced’ standard.
Marown FC are just one of the clubs to benefit from the programme as grounds person Andy Cain explains: "In 2016, Marown Football Club was awarded a Grass Pitch Improvement Programme grant from the Football Foundation, which enabled us to take the football pitch to its current level. Using the funds, we purchased a new tractor, a Quadraplay and a Multitiner.
“The first couple of years where a concern as the pitch was so wet in the autumn, due to the extremely high levels of rainfall, which limited the opportunities to deploy the new machinery. Also, with the added complexity of sharing the field, with the local cricket club, and no resting time for the ground, there was no real opportunity for work to be completed out of the football season.
“We are proud of the current condition of the pitch however, which is the result of perseverance and the invaluable help of our pitch advisor, Mike Atherton. We can now see the improvement in the pitch quality, which has moved to the next level for the players and the club."
This article was originally featured in our member magazine, Grounds Management. If you would like to read the full feature and receive many other member-only benefits such as discounts on training, you can become a member today by following this link.