Swansea City have added another trophy to this season’s list of achievements after Dan Duffy was named Barclays Premier League Groundsman of the Year.
The Liberty Stadium is well renowned for its excellent playing surface, with both the Swans and Ospreys rugby union side playing there.
After providing a top-class pitch all-year round, Duffy has won recognition from the Premier League in their annual awards after the Liberty surface scored higher than the other 19 top-flight clubs.
After marks out of five from referees and match delegates were counted up, the Swans scored an average 4.65 points.
And, following a final inspection of the surface and methods used in maintaining standards, the Swans beat off close competition from Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool , Aston Villa and Southampton.
And it is an award Duffy feels is reward for the amount of work he and his team put into ensuring Michael Laudrup’s side have the perfect pitch to play on in every home game.
“The award says my name on it, but really it’s an award for the whole team I have working with me,” said Duffy, who started working at the Liberty in 2005.
“A lot of time and hard work goes into ensuring the surface is in great shape, so there is no way I could have accomplished this without Dan Kirton, Ben Arthure, James Williams and Evan Davies.
“Dan Kirton is the only one that is full-time while the others come in for a few days in the week and on matchday, but we work very well as a team – that’s the key to all of this.
“It’s certainly a challenging job, particularly with the rugby team playing here too, but it’s one we all enjoy. We take a lot of pride from seeing the pitch in great condition.
“The Swans obviously pride themselves on playing free-flowing football, so we know how crucial having a pitch in top condition is for them.
“It’s a great honour for us to receive this award. To be regarded as the best in the Premier League is a great accomplishment for my team.”
With around 55 football and rugby matches to deal with on average per season, the grounds team at the Liberty could face their biggest challenge next season if the Swans progress into the Europa League Group Stages.
“I would love to have a season where we have to deal with 65 games in all, plus training sessions,” added Duffy. “That would be a massive challenge for us.
“Having top clubs come to the Liberty Stadium to play in the Europa League is another good challenge for us to rise to as a grounds team.
“And, I must add, that the Stadium Management and Swansea City have been great. They have recognised the equipment needed – about £200,000 was spent last season on two high-tech lighting rigs - and they’ve worked closely with myself and my team to ensure we produce the best playing surface possible.
“Next season will be another massive test for us all. But, like the supporters, we are all relishing it.”
DID YOU KNOW
Dan was named Championship Groundsman of the Year 2008/09, Professional Groundsman of the Year 2008/09, Sportsturf Management Team of the Year 2009 and a finalist in the Groundsman's Groundsman of the Year 2009-10-11 and 2012.
His normal working day for a Swans match starts at 3am and finishes at 10pm.
Having started off as a groundsman in Sydney, Australia, he's worked at the top level of cricket, rugby league and rugby union before moving to the UK where he got his first taste of British football with Haverfordwest in the Welsh Premier League.