HACKETT’S VERDICT: Heroes right down to the ground

HACKETT’S VERDICT: Heroes right down to the ground

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    Britain Football Soccer - Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League - Old Trafford - 19/11/16 Groundstaff tend to the pitch before the match Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

    A sincere thank you to all those unsung heroes – the football groundstaff.

    During my era of refereeing from the 1960s to the 90s I can remember at this time of the season ploughing through muddy conditions and regularly being called in on Friday afternoon or early Saturday to inspect a pitch somewhere.

    Some of us can remember that muddy field where the great George Best weaved his way through the mud to pause on the goal line and then tap the ball into the back of the net.

    If you visit the National Football Museum in Manchester you will see that iconic photo of the great Sir Tom Finney creating a wall of water as he slides and attempts to pass the ball.

    Nowadays I am amazed how far playing surface technology has moved with vast sums of money spent on the structural make up of the field.

    Undersoil heating is taken for granted and in the middle of winter we see regular watering, even at half-time in some stadiums.

    Then we see the bank of high powered halogen lights being wheeled out to aid the growth of the grass which, at some grounds, is weaved in to blend with plastic artificial grass.

    The credit, however, must go to those unsung heroes, the groundstaff and the head groundsmen.

    Their hours of hard work and dedication produce a playing surface that enables those skilful players to demonstrate their technical skills – and there are fewer occasions when our weekend is disrupted by a cancellation.