It’s no longer a surprise to anyone when we find out the Brunton Park playing surface has reached the final stages of the pitch of the season reckoning, with Dave Mitchell once again finding himself in the top three nominations for League Two.
A veteran of this award – he’s won it twice previously and come close on numerous other occasions – chief executive Nigel Clibbens spoke this week about his hard-working groundsman.
“I am really pleased for Dave Mitchell, who I know works tirelessly,” he said. “He is a tough character, there’s no doubt about that, and I know this has been a frustrating year for him.
“He consistently, over many years now, produces a surface that is the envy of other clubs in this division, and above, as his continued and repeated nomination for this award shows.
“Dave never looks enviously elsewhere, and he never looks for excuses. He does all our pitch work on his own, apart from pre-match help. I know he would want to thank Paul Butler for that, and so do I.
“We also have great support from Rickerby, and thank them for providing first class equipment and for always being on the end of the phone for advice and comments.”
“Dave is, of course, constantly looking at ways to improve the stadium pitch, training pitch and Creighton pitches to get them to the highest standard,” he added. “He always gets the maximum from what we can give him.
“He treats every penny to be spent on the pitch preciously, as if it’s his own, and will not waste club money on things that make no difference, even if doing it might look good and be popular. It has to be of real benefit or he simply will not proceed.
“He is the first one to challenge the club for more financial support, but equally he understands with a limit on cash and competing demands that if the choice, for instance, is over pitch lights and spending on a player – he may lose out.
“He explains the consequences of every decision, whether it’s pitch use, a warm-up location, training, pitch works or investment, so there are no surprises.
“The decision on pitch use comes from the football department and spend from the board. Either way he gets on with the job and deals with what is required. It is easy to take all of this for granted, but we shouldn’t.
“It has been a difficult season with a lot of comment about the pitch, accompanied by a lot of theories. For the club be recognised by independent, unbiased, expert assessment, after the kind of year we have had, is special. We are proud of this and pleased that Dave has once again been recognised.”
Dave Mitchell said: “It’s always a proud moment to be highly commended.
“It’s a target to get in the top three and, being honest, I don’t think we were close to winning it this time because it’s been a bit of a rough year.
“In League Two a lot of clubs went into winter with a decent pitch, then the weather and other circumstances have taken over after that a little bit.
“We had zero regrowth towards the end of the season which we’d normally expect in March and April. Even though the season didn’t finish until 8 May, the weather wasn’t great, so it just dragged out towards the end with the condition of pitches across the country struggling.
“So, yes, it is nice to be highly commended because a lot of work does go into it. We do have battles at times, but we somehow manage to get there between us.
“I have people like Paul [Butler] and others who help me, and a lot of credit goes to him for that. We are pleased and with the work we’re doing this summer hopefully we’ll produce a pitch of even better quality next season.”
We'll have more on the ongoing pitch works on the official website over the coming days and weeks.
Click HERE to watch an interview with Dave Mitchell on iFollow United now.
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