U’s groundsman is top of the league

Hastings United's award-winning groundsman Simon Rudkins
Hastings United's award-winning groundsman Simon Rudkins

For the second year running, Simon Rudkins has won the Groundsman of the Year Award for the Ryman Football League.

The Hastings United Football Club groundsman has also come second nationally at level three of the FA National League System, as he did last year.

He said: “It’s nice when players say they’ve never played on a better surface in their whole career, and when teams arrive and you see the look on their faces.”

Rudkins estimates that he spends roughly an average of 15 hours per week on the pitch in addition to his other roles at the club and his main occupation as a self-employed landscaper.

Remarkably, Rudkins - who will be editing the club’s matchday programme again next season after a year’s break - has never worked on a pitch prior to becoming United groundsman.

Rudkins, who received the news via a telephone call from an FA representative on Monday, maintains that the success of the pitch isn’t just down to him and wished to thank Roy Trunchion, who paints the lines on Saturday mornings.

United chairman Dave Walters said: “To win it once was a great achievement, but to win again for a second successive year is a great testament to his hard work, dedication and professionalism, and we are very proud of him at the club.”

See tomorrow’s Hastings Observer for the full article.