From Blackpool to the Bernabeu...

Paul Burgess
Paul Burgess

THE head groundsman at one of the world’s biggest football clubs has won a top award - all thanks to Myerscough College.

Paul Burgess, who now works as head groundsman at Spanish giants Real Madrid, has been given an Association of Colleges’ Gold Award, after being nominated by Myerscough College, where he studied courses in sportsturf as a teenager.

Paul, now aged 32, joined Blackpool Football Club as an apprentice groundsman after leaving school at the age of 16 and combined his new job with a three-year course at Myerscough, during which time he successfully applied for the assistant groundsman post at Arsenal.

When Paul took up his post at Arsenal, then based at Highbury, he continued his studies at Myerscough through a distance-learning programme and sayss that the practical experience he gained, alongside his qualifications and references from his tutors, helped launch his meteoric professional career.

Considered by many in the profession to be the best at what he does, Paul swiftly progressed to head groundsman in 2000 at Arsenal and introduced new technologies and management systems to ensure the state of the art playing surface was top-notch. He also oversaw all aspects of design and construction and delivered the club’s new grounds when they moved to the Emirates Stadium, which are among the best in the world.

He acted as an advisor to UEFA for the 2004 and 2008 European Championships, and at the UEFA Cup and the Champions League finals at various stadiums around continent before he was head-hunted by Real Madrid in 2009 and asked to rescue their pitch at the Bernabeu Stadium.

His dedication and commitment have led to him winning five Premier League Groundsman of the Year and Institute of Groundsman/Turf Professional Awards.

Paul said: “I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to study at such a fantastic college. It’s no coincidence that so many top venues around the world feature groundsmen who have trained at Myerscough College. The facilities, the quality of the teaching and the support they give is second to none and I, like so many others, am very grateful.”

Stewart Brown, Head of Sportsturf at Myerscough College, said: “It is fantastic news that Paul has won the AoC Gold Award.

“As an ex-Myerscough student he continues to demonstrate that the sky is the limit in terms of how far you can go in the industry.

“He is an inspiration to our many sportsturf students, many of whom look to follow in his footsteps as they forge a career for themselves in this great industry. He is certainly a credit to Myerscough and the sportsturf industry.”

The AoC Charitable Trust presents Gold Awards to a select number of former college students each year in recognition of the vital role further education plays in the careers of the winners and of their continuing achievements.

Paul will be presented with his award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at a ceremony at the House of Commons on June 8.