PSG groundsman on visit to Showgrounds

Ballymena United chairman John Taggart, Jonathan Calderwood, Philip Thompson and Don Stirling
Ballymena United chairman John Taggart, Jonathan Calderwood, Philip Thompson and Don Stirling

He’s the man tasked with ensuring Paris Saint-Germain’s multi-million pound stars can showcase their talents on the most pristine of playing surfaces.

Jonathan Calderwood is the head groundsman at the home of the European giants and leads a team which guarantees pitch perfect performances at the Parc des Princes stadium.

And the expert, whose job sees him rub shoulders with football heroes including Neymar and Edinson Cavani, oversaw a very special inspection at Ballymena Showgrounds during a trip home this week.

He was welcomed to the venue by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council staff.

Philip Thompson, Director of Operations, said: “We were really pleased to welcome Jonathan to Ballymena Showgrounds and to showcase just one of our top-class sporting facilities in the Borough.

“Jonathan is rightly regarded as a world-class groundsman and we are grateful for his time and insight into how we can further improve the surface at Ballymena Showgrounds.

“We really appreciated the significant time Jonathan took to share his expertise and advice. The time spent with our groundsmen was invaluable and the discussions confirmed the Council, along with Ballymena United, are taking the correct approach to ensuring the Ballymena Showgrounds pitch is brought to the desired standards.

“Prior to the current season, Council undertook large-scale maintenance on the pitch. The venue hosted matches during the SuperCupNI and UEFA Women’s Under-19 competition, and we were delighted with the hugely positive feedback received from the organisers in regard to Ballymena Showgrounds.

“These incredible tournaments put our Borough on the map as a location for top-level sport and are hugely beneficial to tourism and our economy.

“Again, a huge thank you to Jonathan on behalf of myself and our staff for sharing his time, experience and expertise.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure Ballymena Showgrounds remains one of Northern Ireland’s premier sporting venues.”

John Taggart, Ballymena United chairman, said: “Jonathan has a very busy work-life schedule providing, preparing and maintaining top class playing surfaces at Paris Saint-Germain.

“I think it’s tremendous that he is willing to take time to help his local club and the Council in the installation of a top quality playing surface in his hometown.

“Jonathan’s assistance is invaluable and I thank him for it.”

Jonathan’s reputation was enhanced further when Barcelona superstars, including Lionel Messi, said his was the best pitch they had ever played on, following a match in Paris.

Jonathan, from Clough outside Ballymena, started his career with Glentoran before moving to study Turf Science in Preston.

He worked at Wembley Stadium as Deputy Head Groundsman, Grounds Manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers and then Grounds Manager at Aston Villa.

Having netted a string of prestigious awards for his work, French giants PSG lured Jonathan and his family to the city.