Mark’s sowing the seeds of success at North Walsham’s Scottow home

North Walsham's award-winning Mark Webster Picture: Richard Polley

North Walsham's award-winning Mark Webster Picture: Richard Polley - Credit: Archant

North Walsham’s Mark Webster has won the prestigious Eastern Counties Rugby Union Grounds Person of the Year Award.

The award, sponsored by Sports & Turf, assesses nominees against criteria for ground improvements and promoting pitch maintenance within their club.

“This award is richly deserved,” said Rob Stimpson, North Walsham’s Facilities Director. “Mark has transformed things since he’s been in the role.

“The time he devotes to this voluntary position is incredible and he has succeeded in preparing outstanding playing surfaces for the whole club, from the Minis to the Vikings.

“As importantly he’s made directors, coaches and players aware of the importance of pitch maintenance and the need for investment. He has instilled a real sense of pride and ambition in our grounds with a five-year improvement plan in place.”

Mark’s association with the club goes back a long way. A player for around 20 years, with his last first team appearance in 1992, he was chair for three years in the 1980s.

He began managing the near seven-hectare site at Scottow Park around two years ago. As well as the pitches – four full size plus smaller ones for the Youth, Girls and Minis – it includes a play area and woodlands. It is an onerous responsibility with over 400 youngsters sometimes there on a Sunday morning.

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“Now I do in a few hours what previously took two days, enabling me to move onto other aspects,” he said.

He created ‘technical areas’, meaning heavy impact training takes place away from the pitches, stressing coaches shouldn’t keep using the same areas.

Paths have been created in the woodlands and bulbs planted. As motivated by the needs of the community as he is by producing the perfect pitch, he welcomes the ground’s use by schools, joggers and cross-country runners.

Vikings captain Matt Hodgson said: “Mark provided us with some great surfaces despite last winter’s weather.

“The players much appreciate the huge effort he puts in, as they do the contributions made by all the volunteers that help make North Walsham such a great club.”