Morton groundsman meets Gareth Bale during fact-finding mission at Real Madrid

Paul John Coulterin Football

Morton groundsman Mark Farrell swapped Greenock for the Galacticos on a VIP trip to the home of Spanish giants Real Madrid - and met superstar Gareth Bale.

The award-winning turf expert accepted an invitation from his Bernabeu counterpart Paul Burgess - who visited Cappielow in November - for a behind-the-scenes look at the club's training complex and 81,000-seater stadium before watching the team play arch rivals Barcelona on Sunday night.

During the trip Mark met £85 million man Bale and was then in the stands for the world-famous 'El Clasico' match to see the Welshman in action along with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Real Madrid's grounds manager was welcomed to Greenock five months ago by Mark and he was keen to repay the favour to the Morton man.

Mark told the Telegraph: "He sent me an email in November asking me to come over for the Real Madrid and Barcelona game and about 10 minutes after that I booked my flights!

"Paul and the team really looked after me and gave me the VIP treatment. It was fantastic.

"He arranged for me to meet Gareth Bale and he's a great, down-to-earth, really nice guy.

"It will live long in the memory."

But the visit to see the Real Madrid set-up was also a great learning opportunity for the Ton groundsman.

Mark said: "Walking around the training facility was fantastic, it's unreal.

"You're gobsmacked everywhere you go and it's not just the pitches, the garden areas as well are amazing.

"They have 55 staff looking after it, it's incredible.

"I learned a lot and you look at yourself and where you could do things better here and there.

"It was my first time in Madrid and it's a beautiful city and a tremendous stadium.

"I'm glad to be back and now I'm focused on getting the park ready for the play-offs."

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