Meet Liam James the dedicated grounds manager of Cardiff City Football Club currently competing in the EFL Championship. Liam and his team are responsible for maintaining nine pitches including the recently rebuilt main stadium pitch which is made up of 3% artificial turf (desso). From hosting local teams to international matches Liam's role is vital in ensuring the playing surfaces are in top condition.
The Journey to Becoming a Grounds Manager:
Liam's passion for football started at a young age. He began watching Cardiff City matches and later started working at the club on match days during the summer. This opportunity paved the way for Liam to pursue a career in grounds management. He attended college completing levels two and three in groundskeeping and eventually became the Head Groundsman at Cardiff City Football Club five years ago. Liam acknowledges his mentor Phil Williams who played a significant role in shaping his career over the years.
A Day in the Life of Liam James:
Match days are the most demanding but rewarding for Liam and his team. Starting at 7 a.m several tasks need to be accomplished before the 3 p.m. kick-off. The team begins by brushing the pitch followed by a double cut to ensure the turf is looking it's best and the stripes are contrasting. Next the markings are applied, the goal posts and corner flags are set up and the moisture levels of the pitch are checked. Liam takes great pride in creating the perfect playing surface for the team to play their best football.
Post-match Responsibilities: Once the game concludes and weather conditions permit the clean-up process begins. Liam and his team use the Allett Uplift 86E rotary mowers to remove debris and divots from the pitch.Liam emphasizes the importance of sustainability and how using battery-powered equipment contributes positively to the environment minimising noise, emissions and hand arm vibrations to the operator.
Challenges and Rewards: Maintaining the pitches for a professional football club presents its challenges. Liam and his team face long hours, especially during the winter season when multiple training sessions and matches take place in a single week- sometimes up to 5 a week. Despite the challenges, the most rewarding moments for Liam come when everyone acknowledges the hard work and compliments the quality of the pitch. One of Liam's highlights is being part of the ground staff during the 2016 Euros in France where he spent 6 weeks preparing the grounds.
Commitment to Sustainability: Sustainability has become a significant focus in the world of football and Liam is determined to contribute to this cause. Cardiff City use the Allett battery-powered mowers which offer lower sound levels, reduced emissions, and minimal hand vibrations. The noise reduction is particularly crucial during post-match clean-up when post match interviews are happening. The club also prioritises turf care including regular scarification, verticutting and fertilisation and are exploring renewable energy sources for future energy needs.
Promoting Careers in Grounds Management: Liam recognises the need for more sports turf apprenticeships in Wales. With two apprentices joining the team next year Liam hopes to encourage colleges to offer more opportunities in this field. Working closely with players and experiencing a variety of tasks makes grounds management an enjoyable profession for his team. The job offers a unique blend of outdoor work, camaraderie and constant learning.