Snow problem! Volunteers praised for clearing Abbey pitch

Press Releasein Football

Cambridge United groundsman Ian Darler has praised volunteers who helped him shift 200 tons of snow from the R Costings Abbey pitch to stage today's Blue Square Bet Premier match against Mansfield.

The club were optimistic the match would go ahead, although a 10am inspection was planned, with possible snow forecast last night.

Local referee Keith Hill passed the pitch playable yesterday after Darler and five others had cleared the snow.

"Keith said if the game was at 3pm yesterday, he would have played it," said Darler.

"We shifted about 200 tons of snow in the morning. We started before 6am and the volunteers worked remarkably well, and to get that amount of snow shifted is a tribute to them."

Meanwhile, United manager Martin Ling believes his squad has passed a test of festive temptation to be a lean machine going into the New Year.

Ling is confident his players resisted the urge to let themselves go with the turkey and trimmings after their scheduled Boxing Day derby at Histon was called off on Christmas Eve because the pitch was frozen.

Ling said a system of fines should have been enough to ensure none of the squad would face a battle of the bulge.

He said: "We weigh the players every Monday and fat test them once a month. None of my players are flabby, there's not an ounce of fat on them. All my players work within a weight range that we think is right for a footballer and the old regime of putting weight on over Christmas doesn't happen anymore.

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