From the ground up: 65 years of supporting sport

Specialising in sports pitch construction, O’Brien Contractors Ltd, has supported the development of sports facilities at all levels; from Premier League side Aston Villa Football Club and the Old Saltleians RFC, through to where sporting journeys begin at Northampton Boys College, and Solihull School St. Martin’s campus.

With the right combination of time, experience and touch, each project has helped support the development of the environment that shapes international sports stars and those in training alike, helping generations of sporting professionals.

In celebration of O’Brien Contractors 65th year, we look at some sporting highlights:

Aston Villa Football Club

O’Brien Contractors were instructed by one of the country’s most prestigious Premier League football clubs, Aston Villa, to deliver a complete earthworks and ground remediation strategy. The team worked as the principal contractor to design and complete the side’s £14m training ground.


With the site originally used as a sand and gravel quarry, there was an opportunity to use repurposed existing material throughout the works, bringing down costs and simultaneously minimising the overall carbon impact. Additionally, the site was surrounded by important biodiversity features, including protected lakes and pools for wildlife breeding and an ancient woodland. This required protection measures to be put in place to ensure that the natural surroundings were not adversely affected.


Best in class results require experience and knowledge. From taking measures to protect watercourses and planting nappies to prevent oil or fuel dripping into the ground, to only undertaking vegetation clearance outside of nesting season unless a certified ecologist was present, O’Brien Contractors’ nature-conscious approach reflects its commitment to the natural environment right from the start.

Due to the success of this project, O’Brien Contractors was awarded a further design and build contract to deliver the complete Academy Club building, alongside additional upgrades to the club’s grounds. This included constructing a 1,000m² steel frame clad building, track facilities, pitch floodlighting and a player monitoring system, all in line with the top-level requirements of the Premier League side, resulting in a world-class facility.

Old Saltleians RFC


A Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) winning project, O’Brien Contractors worked as principal contractor on the development of a new clubhouse and rugby ground, spanning a total 17 acres.


Combining its extensive experience in civil engineering and construction with sports pitch expertise, O’Brien Contractors provided the players with a state-of-the-art facility, including three senior pitches, three junior pitches and two dedicated mini-rugby pitches with floodlighting throughout. The project also included a clubhouse fitted with changing rooms, a gym, bar, office space and storage, as well as extensive car and coach parking, and hard and soft landscaping throughout.


Despite battling the 40ºC heatwave of June 2022, the newly created and existing ponds were successfully used for rainwater irrigation that supported the hydration of freshly planted grass seeds, meaning that the pitches were ready for a winning home game that December.


Northampton Boys College

O’Brien Contractors was tasked to create a new sports facility that nurtured talent at the start of their sporting endeavours. Part of a £28 million new modular build campus for the school, the £2.1m project included the development of 40,000m² of natural turf pitches, a full size 3G synthetic surfaced football pitch with associated lighting and fencing, and a 62m x 36m “Leisuretex” surfaced multi-use games arena (MUGA) designed to facilitate sports such as tennis and netball.


O’Brien Contractors has worked with the client and the college over the course of two years, providing the right expertise to plan, design, and prepare a best-in-class facility. With the college possessing limited knowledge in project management and construction, the contractor drew on its team’s extensive experience in total sports project solutions to bring the client’s vision to life. To do this, the in-house team provided a bespoke design package, including earthworks modelling for natural pitches, along with extensive drainage design.


The facilities are due to be completed by September 2024, ready for the school’s grand opening.


Solihull School


O’Brien Contractors won their fifth contract with Solihull School for the delivery of a full refurbishment of sports facilities, including a groundsman building and additional onsite landscaping.


Working in a live school environment poses challenges, however, with morning and evening timed deliveries and effective banksmen control, O’Brien Contractors ensured that construction processes had no effect on the school or pupils.


The project provided the school with a ‘Sports England Standard’ approved pitch, complete with a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) that tackled a previous issue with standing water. The groundsman facility was designed in a natural shade of green to blend in with the surrounding environment, and included solar panels to support the school’s sustainability goals.


From premier league pitches to introducing students to the world of sport, O’Brien Contractors knows what it takes to impress. By combining the right people with the right technology, the team has delivered a number of industry leading facilities that will continue to support and nurture some of the country’s best sportspeople for decades to come.