The Ventrac will support the Football Club’s new £100 Million Training Centre
Leicester City Football Club, last season’s FA Cup winners, is the latest organisation to appreciate the multiple benefits of Ventrac. Delivered by local dealer, Farols, the package included a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor in dual-wheel configuration, a Contour mowing deck, Trencher and Power Broom and will be used to maintain their new world-class training centre of at Seagrave in Leicestershire.
Following a demonstration earlier this year and with input from his team, John Ledwidge, Head of Sports Turf and Grounds at the Premier League club, specified the purchase. He is an integral part of the team that has developed the world-class training facility, where he oversees the management and development of the 180-acre site. This includes the equivalent of 14 turf pitches, synthetic pitches, a 9-hole golf course and the world’s first dedicated Sports Turf Academy.
Commenting on the latest addition to the machinery fleet, he said,
“Our owner is passionate about this football club and the community we share. He wants the very best and this facility demonstrates that commitment. We all share his vision and our aim is to make this the premier training centre in Europe.
“To be fair, we took a lot of our inspiration from the exceptional job Darren Baldwin has done at Tottenham’s facility, where we first saw the Ventrac in action during the research phase of the plan. I’d also seen it at various trade fairs and in the media. We needed a machine that was highly versatile, that can help us here improve a site that’s going to be constantly evolving over the next five years.
“The Contour deck helps us maintain the numerous banks and sloped areas around the complex, including ‘Mount Vardy’, the nickname we’ve given to a landscaped area of unused spoil from the original build. It is also used on the golf course where its articulated design prevents scalping. We’ve used the Trencher to insert drainage bands in some particularly wet areas of the golf course and the Power Broom does a great job on the pathways and carparks. It’s all about quality presentation and the versatility of the Ventrac helps us achieve the high standards demanded here.”
Chris Minton is the club’s Head Mechanic, supervising a team of three in the state-of-the-art Maintenance Facility located within the Sports Turf Academy building. Commenting on the Ventrac he said, “It’s a very good and impressive piece of kit; robustly constructed and powerful, considering it has a sub-25 hp engine. It’s simple to work on, all the belts are easily accessible as are the greasing points and the flip-up decks make our job easier when we need to access the blades or blade spindles. Definitely a very good addition to our fleet.”
John Ledwidge’s career
John began his career in 2002 as an apprentice groundsman at Coventry City where, at the tender age of 19, he was promoted to Deputy Head Groundsman. In 2008 he was appointed Assistant Grounds Manager at Aston Villa and 18 months later returned to Coventry to take up the Head Groundsman role, where he was responsible for directing pitch preparations for the London 2012 Olympics at the City of Coventry Stadium (now the Ricoh Arena).
Following the much-publicised issues at Coventry during this time, he then joined Ricoh Arena in the role of Grounds Manager and in 2014 was successful when he applied for Head Groundsman’s position at Leicester City. In 2016 he was promoted to Grounds Manager and then in July 2019 he took up his current role as Head of Sports Turf and Grounds, where he leads a team of 52 staff working across multiple sites and is actively involved in the ongoing development and investment in the class-leading sports turf surfaces at the club.