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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Long-serving greenkeeper ready to let the dogs out

As the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs prepare to take on the Gold Coast Titans at Belmore Sports Ground this weekend in a National Rugby League (NRL) Round 3 clash, behind the scenes, Lee Best, is working overtime to ensure their home ground is “match fit”.

The ground’s head greenkeeper has worked for Canterbury-Bankstown Council for 28 years and is passionate about getting the surface ready and looking good.

The weeks leading up to a home game are super busy for Lee and his offsider, Grant, who spend extra time mowing and marking the fields. The playing arena is mowed four times a week, while the back fields require three mows.

There’s a lot more to preparing a professional facility than most people realise, including applying liquid fertiliser, fungicides, herbicides and irrigation – and getting it all timed right in between the many training sessions and games.

“The work satisfaction is what I really enjoy… being able to mow and fertilise it and look back at it like ‘oh geez, I’ve done a good job’,” Lee said.

“It’s a busy week, but the day before the game I’d sit in the grandstand and just look at the field and think ‘yeah, it’s going to be looking awesome’.”

Lee started out with Council in 1996 as a first-year greenkeeper apprentice and worked at Canterbury Golf Course before moving to Belmore Sports Ground, where he has worked for the past 22 years.

“I used to play golf and see the guys working on the golf course and they’d be working and having a laugh at the same time – that’s when I knew that I wanted to do it,” he said.

In between all the hard work, Lee’s had the chance to get to know some of the players over the years, who are always grateful for his efforts to keep their home ground in top condition.

“We used to have five of our best players take on five of their best in a friendly game of footy at lunch time – this was around 15 years ago,” Lee said.

“We’ve also had table tennis competitions against the players for a token prize at the end of the week.

“I used to catch the balls for Hasem El Masri at the end of training and I’d throw them back to him.”

Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor, Bilal El-Hayek (pictured with Lee) said Lee hasn’t dropped the ball when it comes to keeping the ground in top order.

“He takes his job seriously and like the players, wants to perform at his best,” Mayor El-Hayek said.

“I’ve jokingly had a quite word with him, to ensure the grass is cut to favour the dogs’ speedsters.

The Mayor said he was looking forward to the weekend game and encouraged everyone to go out and support the team.

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