The grass is incredibly important when it comes to football, after all, it’s one of the vital tools of the players’ trade. For new groundsman Andrew Riley, it’s a love affair with turf, making sure the quality is second to none.
He is responsible for the pitch at The Chorley Group Victory Park Stadium and loving every minute of it, saying: “I’m really excited about looking after the pitch and making my own decisions. Thankfully the weather has been good so far and hopefully that will continue.”
Riley, originally from Bamber Bridge who completed a three year Sports Turf course at Myerscough College before getting a job at Reading went on to say: “I studied at college and during that time completed work experience at Preston North End with Pete Ashworth. Afterwards the job came up at Reading, so I moved down there and spent nearly a year with the club. I worked on the nine pitches at the training ground and inside the Madejski Stadium which was great experience. Although after hearing about the job here I moved back home and am so thankful to have been given the opportunity.”
“I’m very passionate about the job and if you ask my friends and family, they’ll all say I’m massive on grass. I’d like to think what I’ve learnt at college and the experience I’ve build up will stand me in good stead for the future. The best thing about being a groundsman is working outside in the summer, without doubt. Although it’s challenging in the winter when the pitch becomes wetter.”
Chorley FC director Dave Yates, who is also Managing Director at Envirocare got in touch with Andrew regarding the job and he’s never looked back, saying: “There’s so much satisfaction from working on a pitch. I’m quite happy at the moment with what we’ve got at Victory Park. In non-league you can only do the best you can which is what we are trying to achieve here.”
Andrew treats the grass how you would treat a player, ensuring it’s in prime condition for each match. He added: “Timing is everything being a groundsman. Although my favourite part is marking the pitch out. The white lines make such a difference and it finishes everything off. I’m also grateful to Dave Yates and it’s great to have someone of his calibre in the background.
If I need any help he’s got a big company who will provide a helping hand and speed things up. I’m very much looking forward to the challenge ahead and working hard for such a fantastic football club.”
Andy is also looking for volunteers on match days to help him keep the surface in tip top condition, saying: “One of the most important times to help maintain the pitch is actually during the game, at half time and immediately after, so I am looking for two or three people who are willing to dash on at half time and stay for an hour after the game to replace all the divots.”