Second national groundsman award for Clay Cross Town hero

Lee Watson, the revered groundsman at one of Derbyshire's amateur football clubs, Clay Cross Town, has landed his second major national award.

Monday, 7th November 2016, 3:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:52 pm
GROUNDS FOR CELEBRATION -- Lee Watson (right) and his family with the award at the ceremony.
GROUNDS FOR CELEBRATION -- Lee Watson (right) and his family with the award at the ceremony.

Last year, Watson was named FA groundsman of the year after scooping the Derbyshire County FA award. Now he has won a coveted Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) accolade in his category to continue his amazing work as a non-league football volunteer.

An FA bigwig described him as “a true inspiration to grassroots football”.

Watson picked up his award, along with his family, in a prestigious ceremony at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, and being able to call himself an industry winner in his field was an unbelievably proud moment for him

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“It is amazing to win this award,” said Watson, who spends most of his time at Clay Cross’s Mill Lane ground. “It was a great night, and to win made it more special.

“I have been on an 18-month whirlwind, which I never expected. All the awards have been special, but to win this industry honour is out of this world.

“For our football pitch to win against pitches from other sports is brilliant. There’s no one thing that has brought the success. It’s just hard work. I want the pitch to be at its best, whatever the fixture.”

Watson, who was also a runner-up in this year’s FA groundsman awards, regards the Millers’ playing surface as his pride and joy. He has not been averse to investing his own money in machinery over the years and gets terrific satisfaction from improving the pitch for the players at the club, who play in the North Division of the Central Midlands League (CML). It’s also very much a family affair because both his stepson and stepdaughter play an active role in supporting him and his work.

“Lee is a very driven and committed individual,” said Keely Brown, head of strategy and facilities at Derbyshire County FA. “He is a regular attendee at our grounds maintenance workshops and grabs every opportunity to continue to learn and develop his knowledge and skills.

“He has embraced the FA’s pitch improvement programme and all it has to offer. He has worked with the county FA to access funding via the programme to enable the club to purchase new machinery, and he is a real advocate of the initiative.”

Matt Bartle, the FA’s regional facilities and investment manager, said: “Lee works tirelessly to provide the best possible surface, whetver the weather. He is a true inspiration to grassroots sport.

“He has received excellent support from colleagues at Derbyshire County FA, which recenrly resulted in a successful application to the Footbnall Foundation for much-needed machinery.

“Thankyou, Lee, for all that you do for Clay Cross Town ans for grasroots football as a whole. Without people like you, the game couldn’t bge played.ll done!”

Clay Cross currently sit fourth in the CML table after eight wins and three defeats.