Wilson is the league's top turf star!

By David Watters

Whitby Town's Eric Wilson has been named as the best groundsmen in the Northern Premier League and Non-League's national runner-up at the Football Association's 2018 Groundsmen of the Year Awards!

Pictured last season after being highly commended by the judges of the annual contest to honour Non-League's top turf stars for his work at the Turnbull Ground, Wilson easily outstripped that this time around to collect the EVO-STIK League's top honour and take second spot nationally at Steps 3 to 4 of the National League System behind Tonbridge Angels.

Like the groundsmen and women at the number one clubs in the Isthmian League, Southern League and National League, Wilson and the Seasiders are also looking forward to banking cheques for £12,500 to spend on ground maintenance from Budweiser, the new sponsor of the annual accolades.

The EVO-STIK League Premier Division club and Wilson are no strangers to honours after being named in June alongside Trafford and Loughborough Dynamo at the NPL's end of season awards as one of the inaugural winners of the GreenFields Pitch of the Year accolades.

Prestigious: St George's Park

Prestigious: St George's Park

Matlock Town's Richard Lomas left the FA's St George's Park on Thursday with plenty to shout about too, second place behind Wilson, both in the NPL and nationally. Elfyn Jones at Colwyn Bay will have an extra spring in his step around Llanelian Road as he prepares for the new season after taking third spot in the EVO-STIK League and being highly commended nationally.

Regular finalists Mick Grimmer at Stocksbridge Park Steels and Witton Albion's Peter Robinson, along with last season's NPL number one, Belper Town's Phil Varney, all left the event with high commendations from the the FA's judging panel of expert professional groundsman from the English Football League and Premier League.

The league's representatives were honoured after a series of on-site assessments at nominated grounds last season that not only looked at the quality of the pitches but also took into consideration the skills and knowledge of the finalists, their ambitions for the pitch, the resources available, pitch use and the amount of time they were able to work on their surfaces during one of the worst winters and toughest seasons in years.

More than a 100 groundsmen from all levels of the game were rewarded for their work at this season's ceremony in front of their peers. EVO-STIK League representative Paul Hatt, along with Brent Clayton from the NPL's sponsors at the Frank Whittle Partnership, were also at the prestigious state-of-the-art venue near Burton to congratulate the 2018 winners.

Guests at the 17th running of the annual awards also got the chance to quiz a panel of professional groundsmen at a Q&A session and enjoy a presentation from Mark Pover, the FA's head of facilities and investment, before lunch and the awards ceremony.

* Official pitch partners GreenFields agreed a new three year deal with the EVO-STIK League in June after honouring their inaugural Pitch of the Year winners at Blackpool's Hilton Hotel. Appointed last summer as the NPL's official pitch partners for the historic 2017-18 50th anniversary campaign, the sports turf specialists are looking forward to working with clubs until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.

Images courtesy of thefa.com

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Where next?

Children's hospital is official charity The fans, players and officials Matlock Town will be raising funds for the Sheffield Children's Hospital when the 2018-19 EVO-STIK League season kicks off.
Champions donating gate to charity Basford United are donating the gate money from their preseason friendly with EVO-STIK League rivals Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday to local charities.

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