“Thebook of Genesis tells us that on the third day God created dry land. But what was the first living entity he created on that dry land? Two days before he created a single fish or fowl or any ‘living creature that moveth’ he created, and I quote: ‘grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit’. Note the order. Grass first”
from ‘Sightlines’ by Simon Inglis (2001, Yellow Jersey Press)
Although the experiment has been tried, the basic fact is that without grass there would be no football. Actually that’s not strictly true: Without no Groundsmen, there would be no football!
The Groundsman is the unsung hero of football everywhere. In fairly recent times, the FA have begun to reward these individuals with a series of annual awards - and about time too. Every season, groundsmen work minor miracles to get games on, only to see their work ruined in the space of ninety minutes, and then probably blamed for a striker missing a goal or a keeper failing to make a save. All in all, it’s a bit of a thankless task.
Forget the big Premiership clubs with all the very best tools at their disposal, undersoil heating and cover; not to mention an army of assistants. More often than not the Non League Groundsman will be single-handed, have to fit tending for the pitch around his day job, and have to make do with clapped-out equipment and little or no budget. As for those clubs that play on a recreation ground, just imagine what’s left behind after the local dog walkers have been on it for the previous week!
My own particular fetish is for antique groundkeeping equipment, seemingly abandoned rather that stored neatly away after use; and if I can frame a nice photograph with this in the foreground, all the better.