Bodymoor chief groundsman Farmer boosted by Lambert approach
Graeme Farmer admits he's still buzzing about being appointed grounds manager at Bodymoor Heath - and thrilled with the words of encouragement from manager Paul Lambert this week at the start of pre-season.
Farmer was announced as training ground turf chief last month following the exit of Jonathan Calderwood from the role.
The 36-year-old - who has worked at Bodymoor for 12 years - jumped at the chance to take on the senior role.
He had meetings with Lambert along with head of facilities Tom Fantini and head of football operations Gary Karsa before being offered the once-in-a-lifetime job.
He said: "I am over the moon still. I was very proud that they asked me to take on the role. I jumped at the chance immediately when they offered it to me.
"When Jonathan left, I mentioned that I would love to be considered. I had meetings with Tom and discussions with Paul and Gary - and it all happened very quickly after that.
"It's fantastic to work here. The atmosphere is tremendous. That's thanks to the manager and his staff.
"It's all about that relationship. The aim is to provide the best surface, that's always been the case - and that's what the manager wants.
"The manager presses on you as staff here that we're all in together. He demands high standards and that's what we work to.
"You all feel part of it with him in charge.
"It's great to work up here. You very much feel part of his team."
Farmer has been hectic this summer, getting all thirteen pitches up to speed for the start of pre-season.
He's delighted with the top-quality surfaces and paid tribute to the nine-strong staff for getting everything prepared immaculately for the first day back.
He continued: "It's not about me - no way, far from it. You are only as good as the lads you work with and the guys here are fantastic. We all have had a part to play in getting things ready.
"We are very happy with how things have gone. The pitches look really good.
"The summer hasn't been the best. It's been very cold. It took a bit longer for the seed to germinate. It's been interesting. But we have got there.
"I had a brief chat with the manager on Monday and he was very happy with where we are at the moment with it. It's looking good. We are determined to keep our standards very high."
Farmer revealed it's a process of "stages" to get the complex's pitches up to speed.
He continued: "We start in April by taking one of the first-team pitches and the academy goalkeeping area out of action.
"We start those before the end of the previous season so they are the areas the players use when they get back for pre-season training.
"We try and allow twelve weeks from stripping back off to growing back in.
"Then the lads go away for pre-season and when they come back they will have another pitch and the senior goalkeeping area ready and waiting for them.
"Just before the season starts, the main pitch - the replica of VP - will be up and running.
"It's stage to stage. You don't want to take all the pitches out and then find the weather turns and you have three unplayable areas out there. That's why we do it like we do.
"Overall we are doing things more or less the same as before. Nothing was broke - so why fix it?
"I have made a couple of minor changes but nothing drastic. The plan we had in place was pretty flawless anyway."
Farmer, whose dad - also called Graham - worked at Atherstone GC and Forest of Arden GC - will be working closely with Paul Mytton, who took on the same role of grounds manager at Villa Park.
It's about best-practice and ensuring that there's a flow of ideas and information across the club.
He added: "We liaise regularly. We have a very close working relationship.
"We talk about the science of it - it's not just about cutting grass - best practice and alternative techniques.
"We're always bouncing ideas off each other. We have a routine where everyone knows what everyone else is doing too.
"They key is that I could go to Villa Park and know how they operate and vice-versa."
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