Meet groundsman, John Collier

Sunday 28 Apr 2024

We spoke to John Collier, Active's groundsman looking after the playing fields outside Les Quennevais Sport Centre. 

Tell me about your role:

I am a Groundsman, working in a team looking after the playing fields outside Les Quennevais Sports Centre. Whilst catering for football and cricket takes up the majority of our time, we also look after croquet, bowls, hockey, touch rugby, cycle racing (grass and tarmac), cross-country cycling, petanque, tennis, netball, and biannual cross-country races for the primary schools.

We used to have rugby up at the airport playing fields, but we lost our posts last year in the storm, and with the demise of Jersey Reds, there was no requirement to replace them.


What does your average working day look like?

Basically, if something is supposed to be alive and green, it needs cutting and looking after. If not, then get rid of it. However, it’s so much more than that, as I’ve learned over the years.

Cricket especially takes a lot of preparation and renovation, from feeding, verti-cutting (to remove thatch in the grass), selective weed killing, different types of mowers, heavy rollers, verti-drainers (to improve drainage and remove compaction) and then end of season renovations to dig up the pitch and re-seed for the following season. Fine turf (cricket, bowls and croquet) is mown every other day in the summer months, to keep it in the best playing condition.


What was your path into this job?

I came into this role from a background of 30+ years in finance. Then Covid hit, and in 2020 I found myself looking for work. Having been fortunate to have grown up in England with a large garden (requiring the use of ride-on lawn mowers, as well as rotary and cylinder mowers), along with a sporting background (rugby, hockey & cricket), an agency asked if I would be interested in a temporary role working on the grounds at Grainville and Victoria College.

Although you’ll be hard pushed to find tractors in banks or trust companies, the manager at the time knew my sporting background, and subsequently offered me the job. About a year later, an opportunity came up to apply for a permanent position with the Les Quennevais team, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I would have to say that it’s preparing cricket pitches. Seeing the transformation from bare earth at the end of the season, through to something resembling a pristine cricket pitch from May to September. From the slow trundle of the heavy 5-ton roller, to mowing & verti-cutting, trying to eradicate as many imperfections and blemishes as possible.


What is the most challenging part of your job?

Dealing with the weather... and there’s not a thing that you can do about it.

People are often jealous of us in the summer, working in shorts and t-shirts, even if we are walking 30k-40k steps each day - good practice for my charity walks. I can assure you that it's not quite so much fun in the winter months!


What do you enjoy getting up to outside of work?

I am a family man at heart, and I enjoy spending time with my wife and two sons. I love cooking, and I'm quite at home preparing a 12-course meal for friends.

Sport has been part of my life since school. Although I don't play as much as in my youth, I still attend all the Jersey Rugby Club matches, and score for St Ouen's cricket club in the summer. Being active has led to my participation in many charity events such as numerous Swimarathons and walks, including 11 Island (ITEX) walks.

It’s a combination of family and charity that has led me to entering the 66 mile Isle of Wight Ultra Challenge (Isle of Wight Challenge - Ultra Challenge), raising money for the Royal Orthopaedic Charity ( In conjunction with Southampton Hospital, they are helping to look after our son (Alex, who works as a Leisure Assistant up at Fort Regent), because he has recently been diagnosed with bone cancer in his leg. This will require a replacement of his knee and upper part of his femur, although they’re still doing tests to see if it has spread. Based in Birmingham, the hospital is one of the leading cancer research hospitals in the world.

Please consider donating to John's Just Giving Page to help him reach his fundraising goal and provide crucial support to Alex and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.