Published: 06:00, 04 September 2020
| Updated: 09:32, 04 September 2020
Orpington Football Club’s Paul Wade has been named groundsman of the year.
He beat 50 others shortlisted for the national award and was chosen by a national panel as the Grounds Team of the Year at the FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards.
Mr Wade said: “There is lots to do. You only get back what you put into it. I do it out of love for the football club, I don’t do it for any other reason.”
A volunteer at the club for over 15 years, he has fulfilled several roles, including club secretary and welfare officer.
As groundsman, he dedicates up to 15 hours a week over three days to single-handedly maintain 16 pitches at Goddington Park for over 450 players. He also helps maintain the pavilion, toilets and changing rooms.
The judging panel paid homage to his intuitive knowledge of the park and its drainage systems, the relationships he has built with park users and the local borough council and his ability to make tough decisions when it comes to calling games off.
Chairman of the club Richard Kettle said: “Orpington Football Club are extremely proud of our groundsman Paul for winning this award. Paul has been a wonderful servant of the club for nearly two decades and is the lifeblood of the club and the community we serve.
“We couldn’t offer football to the amount of people we do without Paul, so it really is wonderful to see all his hard work rewarded. We would like to once again thank Paul for everything he does for the club.”
The club’s head of football Simon Morris added: “I’ve never seen a man work so hard and give so much back to the community.”
Under-10 manager Dean Francolini added: “You take Paul out of the club everything falls apart."
Darryl Haden, Kent FA chief exec, said: “The team at Kent FA would like to offer our congratulations to Paul Wade and Orpington FC.
“Grassroots football would not exist without the commitment and dedication of volunteers like Paul and we are pleased that he has been recognised for his service to the grassroots game at Orpington FC.”