Stu Vause on IOG Award win

Posted: Wednesday 6th November 2019 - 6:00 PM


A popular member of staff at the Tigers, Stu Vause had well-wishers from staff, current and former players, as well as the coaches ahead of last Wednesday’s Institute of Groundmanship Industry Awards evening which honours the expertise, dedication and passion of the grounds profession. Stu has been the key man that has made Castleford a finalist for this award six years straight and when the Fords were announced as the winner, he received so many congratulatory messages he had to switch his phone off!

“I had loads of good luck messages ahead of it and then when we won I had to turn my phone off because it was buzzing all night with texts and calls, including other groundsmen wanting to congratulate. The IOG Yorkshire branch they made a massive fuss and I’ve had a lot of support off them over the last few years and they were the first to come up and congratulate. It was nice to win in 2017 but to win it this year is so special; we didn’t really think we would get it for some reason but when they shouted our name out on the night it was amazing. Six years running getting into the final and it’s a massive achievement to get in a final, to win it once I was so happy and once we did, you want it again. So, to do it twice is unbelievable.”

The award comes on the back of another year of hard work from the grounds team at Castleford which Stu heads up with Rob Lilley & Tony Newbert assisting him particularly during the harsher winter months.

“Maintenance wise you can’t survive without the help that Rob & Tony give and when you really need it in tough times of the year they are the extra bodies to help out in the cold months because November to April can be quite tough times, so the lads are a massive help.”

The support doesn’t stop within the club itself for Stu though, given the long hours and early starts it can mean less time with his family, but they are encouraging and have once again seen his work recognized by the IOG.

“My family has been incredible, when you’re out all hours and you might miss them from one day to the next, early hours out first thing, it can be pretty tough on them but luckily my wife and family are supportive in everything. When you get moments like this winning and they’re sat there with me celebrating it’s a little payback for them too. You wouldn’t be able to do it without that family backup.”

Usage of both the training pitch and the main pitch at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle increased significantly in 2019 with the youth teams, women’s and men’s teams utilizing the facilities on offer at the ground. This resulted in much more maintenance for the Cas grounds team to cover to keep it up to Stu’s high standards.

“I should really keep a tally to best honest, especially for the training field but the main field went up by about 40 uses, it’s not just games but training too which stresses it out, sometimes this past year it would be used three times in one day which means you can’t even get to do any maintenance which you want to do.”

It is not as simple as cutting the grass and sticking some painted lines on the pitch, it’s year round efforts to keep it in quality condition and ahead of pre-season the hard work has continued in earnest, Stu discusses what’s been going on during the close season.

“There is a real science to it, as all groundsmen know, there’s your fertilization programmes, your spiking, get some sand on it, try to make root systems stronger and so much more just so that the pitch can be used more, gone are the days of just cutting it and looking at it. We got some problems here with water and drainage meaning it can be long hours and weekends taken but when you get something like this it makes it all worthwhile.”

 “We’ve down a hell of a lot of work on the pitches in the close season, we had a shockwave and tried to break the surface up to get the drainage a bit better because there’s nothing at all on the training pitch so we’ve sanded it to help with that and the structure of the old soil, then re-seeded it and fertilized it to leave the pitch for a rest because it has got hammered. So, all that work is done and whenever the boys are on the pitch in pre-season, we’ll manage it, fingers crossed for some good weather we can really manage it correctly. All hands to the pump to make sure the surface is fit and ready for every session.”

After being a six-time finalist and now two-time winner of the IOG Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team of the Year, Stu Vause is getting Castleford Tigers known as one of the best in the sports grounds industry.

“You set your standards high and you just want keep it going, the award is nationally recognized so for me personally it’s brilliant but as a club we’re putting Castleford Tigers on the map, so to speak, in the grounds industry.”

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