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Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Pitch Has To Be Perfect Says Hereford's Groundsman

Ben Bowen (left) with manager Peter Beadle
Hereford's head groundsman has been invited to the FA's St. George's Park National Football Centre for the Groundsman of the Year awards in August.

Ben Bowen will attend the awards where Hereford have been dominated for the Southern League Premier and Step 3 categories.

It's not the first award Bowen has been nominated for, having also been nominated with Hereford in 2017.

"The award we have been nominated for is Groundsman of the Year for the Southern Premier League and for Step 3 in the country. I won Herefordshire Groundsman of the Year in 2016 for Leominster Town's pitch and I was nominated for Groundsman of the Year for step 6 or 7 (I can't remember which step) in the country for Leominster's pitch in 2015.

The team from Highground Maintenance have never failed to get a game on and it has to be 110% for manager Pete Beadle. Most remarkably, Bowen and a small army of fans, managed to get the pitch ready for the FA Cup Second Round replay against Fleetwood despite it being under several feet of snow just days before. 

"Groundsman at Hereford, how can I explain it, the pressure getting the surface right for Beads! Because it has to be 110% right, there is no 'that will do' in my eyes, it has to be the best I can get it, it has to be prefect in presentation for the fans.

"It was the hardest of seasons last year due to the weather, but we got every league game on and have done since Hereford F.C. was born. That's our job, that's our love for the old girl, so from mowing the pitch in close season to mowing the pitch for games, it has to be at the highest level. It's got to be the best.

Bowen can spend up to 25 hours a week working on the pitch, and having maintained the pitch for Hereford United, he knows it like the back of his hand.

"I spend as much time as I can there. It can be five hours a week up to 25 hours a week, it just depends on how the pitch is after a game. Normally I will spend most of Sunday diveting, brushing or just repairing on the old girl, if I could spend 50 hours a week there I would. 

"We know what the pitch is like and how it acts during the season and we know it inside out as we maintained it in League 1 and 2 and the Conference Premier, so we aren’t expecting too much from her."

The Edgar Street pitch in 2017 with a pattern similar to one at Leicester City
Bowen is well-known for the designs he puts onto the pitch and says he gets his inspiration from Premier League side Leicester City. He wants to make Hereford's pitch a talking point and it's all about perfection.

"The designs I put on the pitch are mostly from Leicester City's pitch. They are the best at designs, so I thought let's set the bar, let's do something different where people will ask questions like 'how did you do that?'

“It gets people talking about Hereford's pitch and like I said before, it’s about perfection and being 110% at what we do."