A frustrating period for groundsman Paul

Press Releasein Football

It is hard to remember the last time the football programme was so decimated by the weather.

Freezing temperatures have seen matches postponed up and down the country ever since 2009 dawned.

From the Premier League to Sunday league, few clubs have escaped the cold snap and pitches have taken a battering.

Worcester City's St George's Lane is no different.

Home games against Newport and last Saturday's clash with Maidenhead both went to the weather, as did that of tenants Evesham United against Bedworth on January 3.

In such circumstances, perhaps we should spare a thought for the often unsung heroes at clubs and for who the present climate is nothing short of a nightmare - the groundsman.

Paul Humphries has been in the role at Worcester for the past two-and-a-half years and the past couple of weeks has been unchartered territory.

With the exception of a sudden storm leaving the surface waterlogged for the September visit of Fisher, this is the first time Humphries has seen games cancelled during his part-time tenure.

He admits there was little that could have been done to save the fixtures but says the distance between clubs brings an unwanted pressure.

He said: "The three that have been cancelled couldn't have been played. You can't really beat nature unless you have £10,000 worth of sheeting and even that wouldn't have helped things on Saturday.

"All we can do is cover the part of the pitch that is in the shade but, if the sun doesn't come out, that doesn't work. I worked until 2.30pm on Saturday and it was still solid.

"The problem with the league we are in now is that the average mileage is higher.

"We have to let teams know at 10am. As a groundsman, we have to get an inspection done almost too early.

"It's so frustrating because you have to make a decision at 9.30am and it's hard to predict what it will be like at 1.30pm. However, the referee makes that decision and the groundsman doesn't get much say.

"If it was Redditch, we could have told them to come over and we'd have a look at the pitch later but you can't do that with the distances involved."

Humphries spends three days a week working on the ground but takes great care due to the amount of use it gets.

City are due to play there at least three times before the end of the month, while Evesham host Oxford City tonight and Clevedon at the weekend.

"I only use the machinery once a week and fill the holes by hand which takes hours," Humphries said. "If we use too much machinery, there would be no grass on it from January onwards.

"If rain has been forecast, we spike it the day before because it gets compacted with all the use it gets and that gives it a much better chance."

Humphries seeds the pitch over the summer as City use Evesham's rent to employ the contractors, who tend to the New Road cricket ground.

Source:-Worcester News

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