Tributes paid to popular Norfolk groundsman who helped create Field of Dreams
PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 January 2014
Tributes have been paid to Norfolk grandfather who worked tirelessly to ensure a “field of dreams” was in perfect condition for the county’s young footballing talent.
Peter Smith, head groundsman at the Football Development Centre (FDC) in Norwich, died suddenly last Tuesday.
The 75-year-old, who was still working some 30 hours a week, had been instrumental in creating what is considered to be an “outstanding” surface at the FDC’s Field of Dreams.
Mr Smith, who lived in Carbrooke, near Watton, with his wife Edna and son Jason, had also laid the pitch at Dereham Town Football Club’s Aldiss Park and had been the groundsman at Watton United Football Club before he took up the head groundsman role at the FDC.
The father-of-four, who moved from Nottingham to Norfolk in his early 20s, was also the ground standards officer for the Anglian Combination and the vice-chairman for the Norfolk Veterans League. Away from football, the ardent Norwich City supporter had a passion for vintage tractors and was considered to be a “total family man”.
His wife Edna, 78, whom he met at a dance in Yaxham and married in 1961, said: “We just clicked straightaway and we lived for one another, there’s no doubt about that.”
Mr Smith’s daughter, Lizzie Hawkins, 39, who lives in Mattishall and has two sons, Ryan and George, said: “He was known for his banter and putting the world to rights.
“He would always pull your leg and he took great pride in his work – not a piece of grass would be out of place.”
Mr Smith, who had been to agricultural college and had previously worked for Bernard Matthews and Bradenham Hall Fruit Farm, was named as regional groundsman of the year in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and was third in the national groundsman of the year awards in 2003.
Together with Jason, he would travel the length and breadth of the country for tractor runs and both he and Edna would enjoy holidays in Cumbria with their son Carl and his wife Tracey.
Mr Smith was said to be proud to watch his grandson Ryan, who turns 19 tomorrow, play for Norfolk at the FDC before he would then get back to work and make the pitch “immaculate” once again.
At Saturday’s Norfolk versus Hertfordshire under-18 match a minute’s silence was held in his memory and tributes were paid in the match programme.
Mr Smith’s funeral will be held at St Peter and St Paul Church in Carbrooke next Thursday at 2.30pm, followed by a celebration of his life at the South Green Café Bar in Mattishall.