Sustainable Pitch Management: Insights from Forest Green Rovers' Head of Pitch Development and Maintenance
In the world of professional football, the careful management of pitches is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of ensuring optimal performance on the field. To shed light on the challenges and innovative practices in pitch development and maintenance, ESSMA had the privilege of interviewing Nick Johnstone, the Head of Pitch Development and Maintenance at Forest Green Rovers Football Club. In this engaging conversation ahead of the ESSMA Pitch Management workshop in Leicester, Mr. Johnstone shares his journey in the industry, the sustainable practices adopted by Forest Green Rovers, and valuable insights for fellow pitch managers.
Introducing Nick Johnstone and Forest Green Rovers
Q: Could you introduce yourself and your role within Forest Green Rovers? What are your daily tasks and responsibilities?
A: I'm Nick Johnstone, Head of Pitch Development and Maintenance at Forest Green Rovers Football Club. My main responsibilities involve maintaining the pitch at The New Lawn stadium and its surroundings. Anything green falls under my purview. I also am involved in the project to build a new training ground, which is an exciting endeavor for the club.
A Path into Groundsmanship and Pitch Management
Q: What led you to pursue a career in groundskeeping and pitch management?
A: My journey into groundskeeping was a bit of a career change. I wanted a different path from my previous roles, which included being a machine operator in a warehouse. The opportunity to work outdoors and combine my love for sports, particularly football, led me to apply for a position at a local community facility. That's where my passion for pitch management began.
The Structure of Pitch Management at Forest Green Rovers
Q: Can you tell us about the structure of the pitch management team at Forest Green Rovers?
A: Our team is relatively small compared to some clubs. I, along with a full-time assistant groundsman, handle the day-to-day operations of the pitch and its surroundings. On match days, we're supported by a dedicated team of volunteers who help us with various tasks. As the club embarks on building a new training ground, we anticipate expanding our team in the future.