John Wright (YBD Chair)

John Wright (YBD Chair)

Age: 29

Questions and Answers

A career in turf care was not my first choice. I never really had any interest in school and was not academically gifted unless I found something that stimulated me or that I really enjoyed. I've always been a hands-on person and I loved being outside rather than sitting in a classroom. I left school with no idea of what I wanted to do as a career but with dreams of being a professional golfer I spent my first couple of months after finishing my exams on the local course playing 36 holes a day trying to achieve my dream job at the time - that clearly didn't work out.

Instead I ended up finding something that I engaged, enjoyed and became passionate about. I volunteered at my local golf club to help with the groundstaff who were more than happy to let me help them and in turn gave me an excellent eye opener as a novice to the industry of what it entailed, tasks, processes and procedures. This was an invaluable experience and the start of my journey.
After presenting my CV to every local (Warwickshire) golf club in the hope of securing a new-found opportunity as an apprentice, I was starting to get a bit despondent to find there was nothing currently available. Then, out of the blue, the opportunity arose to become an apprentice at Coventry City FC. From there onwards I had some real eye-opening experiences and situations but loved every minute of it. I am convinced my volunteer work at the golf club helped in my selection.

Under the guidance of some credible industry leaders I quickly progressed from an Apprentice, to a Qualified Groundsman, a Senior Groundsman and then to Head Groundsman at The Alan Higgs Centre - Home of CCFC Academy. I had some invaluable experiences and something I always look back on and still am grateful to this date to have been given the experience and life lessons at such a young age.

NVQ Level 2 in Amenity Horticulture.

NVQ Level 3 in Sports Turf Management.

PA1, PA2, PA6.

Institute of Occupational Health and Safety - Managing Safely.

Advanced First Aid.

Fire Marshall.

Competence in the Safe Use of Mowers.

Short Courses - Hand Arm/Whole body Vibration, Data Protection, Anti-Bribery, Ladder and Step Ladders, Working at Height, Performance Development Reviews, Unconscious Bias, Electrical awareness, Communication workshop, People management, Mental Health for Managers

Currently studying - Level 5 Operational/Departmental Management.
I strive for excellence in myself and my team. I aim for us to be the best as we possibly can be at everything we do. Therefore, I will undergo any training opportunity offered to me that I may find beneficial for myself or team, be it short or long courses. I strongly encourage and fully support my team to do the same.

I would in the future like to complete a level 5 in Sports Turf, however there are now so many new courses becoming available to assist in your career development, be it be available by the traditional root or via the GMA.

I still feel there is no better way of complementing your academic learning than being hands on in this industry, trialling and experimenting new products and machines, making small mistakes (as there is no room for major) and learning from them.
Responsible for the management/supervision of all the preparation works and maintenance of St Mary's pitch.

Devise and monitor daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance programmes to ensure the required standard of quality for the playing surface. Including workload, fertiliser, aeration and machinery upkeep, replacement, and documentation is kept up to date.

Man management - Supervise, organise and manage groundstaff ensuring they are adequately briefed on duties and ensure standards of work and safety are achieved and maintained. (2 - full time staff & 17 casual staff).

Assist the Head of Grounds in strategic planning of future works. Including projects, and end of season renovation works.

Assist with ongoing budget management.

Supervise and assist the setting up of the playing surface area for training and matches, ensuring very high standards and safe working conditions for all users at all times.

Ensure the safe use, storage, calibration and disposal of pesticides/chemicals.

All environmental waste disposal standards are met.

Ensure our work area is kept clean, tidy and secure at all times.

Establish and maintain effective working relationships with managers and supervisors of other departments / suppliers / reps / contractors / home and away coaching staff / public.

Completing ad hoc duties as requested by line management.

Conduct risk assessments / hazard identification / COSHH assessments, safe working procedures. Ensuring that all control, prevention, documentation is in place and kept up to date.

Attending meetings and giving constructive feedback into the team.

I would say the most challenging part of my role is the weather. It is a huge challenge not only for myself but for every groundsman up and down the country and worldwide whether that be hot or cold climates we all face challenges with weather but in different ways.

Every pitch is different, and we can only deal with the situations that present themselves to us on the day no matter how much you plan ahead mother nature will always do what it wants to, you just have to be best prepared for every situation.
All aspects of my job role are rewarding. What I find in particular are the day to day challenges you face and how you deal with them to come out the other side. It's a sense of achievement not only for myself but the team. No matter what is thrown at us we will find a solution and are not afraid to ask for help from other people within the industry if we are struggling or don't have a solution ourselves.

Match days are also very rewarding, although we maintain the pitch all year around match days are what we work towards like every groundsman. To see the pitch at its best fully presented and the attention to detail on point, clean goals, straight goal clips, corner flags aligned, edged sockets, sprinklers, etc is something we are particularly proud of regardless of the result. As a team we are all in agreement if we give everything 110% and do everything within our power to do what we can it is then down to the players to do the rest. We can only control what we can.
Being given the opportunity of an apprenticeship at Coventry City FC.

Becoming the Stadium Head Groundsman at Southampton Football Club at the age of 23.

Winning a City & Guilds Medal of Excellence for my Level 3 Sports Turf - 1 of 77 out of 1,800,000 candidates worldwide.

Winning the GMA Young Grounds Person of the Year 2018.

May the journey continue...
In five years', time I would like to successfully be in a Grounds Mangers role. If the opportunity does not present itself at Southampton, then ideally at a well-established club with UEFA competition football whether that be in the UK or Europe.

Opportunities do become available within this this industry and I strongly believe you must make the most of everything you can so hopefully when the next career opportunity presents itself you will be I the suitable person for the job.
To pick one person from the whole industry in my opinion would be wrong. I have worked alongside some fantastic and credible people within the industry who have guided and nurtured me along the way to help me to get where I am today, such as John Ledwidge and Julien Morris at Coventry City FC.

I am now under the very watchful eye of Andy Gray whom I have huge respect for. Since moving to Southampton Andy has done nothing but been a fantastic role model and mentor and I cannot speak highly enough about him not only about how he is as an individual but how he guides and teaches his team to others.

I look up to other respectable industry leaders such as Jonathan Calderwood, Paul Burgess, Paul Ashcroft, Steve Braddock, and Dave Roberts, to name a few who produce impeccable surfaces week in week out regardless what is thrown at them.

I also must mention all those hard-working grounds persons that work within our industry be it at grass roots or with limited resources but do the job because of their passion.
I have only just joined the GMA Young Board, but I am now looking forward to my time ahead working with the board in helping to implement some new ideas to encourage more current and future members in their future development into our industry.

The industry is constantly evolving and so are the skills needed. I would like to think that we as Young Board members are able to show and encourage our current and potential members of our ever-expanding development, support and training opportunities.
Outside of my day to day job I will generally be at home planning or working on something to do with work. It's what happens when you love your job.

If not, I try to get out on the golf course - still working on cutting that handicap.

Socialising with family and friends...and of course, watching football and golf.