The Saturday Interview: Grass is greener for groundsman 'Buzzer'

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The surroundings are not too dissimilar to how John Coleman left them.Changes are mostly cosmetic. There is a roof on the Clayton End and there are seats in the cow shed. There is a new main sponsor for the Crown Ground (currently the Store First Stadium).

But there are plenty of familiar faces, from the boardroom to the kit room to the groundsman's hut, which has been a second home to Martyn 'Buzzer' Cook since Coleman took the club back into the Football League in 2006; plucked from Hyndburn Borough Council's parks and gardens by former Reds chairman Eric Whalley.

Accrington Stanley's pitch is certainly one area of notable improvement since Coleman's last spell in charge. It is Buzzer's baby. His pride and joy.Through the support of chairman Peter Marsden and former manager James Beattie, in recent times it has also been his refuge.

Coleman is not the only one to be relishing a new beginning. It is a fresh start for Cook too, but in life rather than football. For the 43-year-old is a reforming alcoholic, sober for 12 months this Tuesday.The addiction first took hold around eight years ago. Three years ago he was told he was lucky to be alive, let alone still capable of doing his demanding job as groundsman.

"It was creeping up, drinking a bit more and more - a bit at home, a bit on the cricket or football," he said. I was generally having a few more than I should have been but not thinking that it was a lot. Cans of Carling. Nothing else. I'd be having about 10 a day, so they usually say if you say 10 cans it's really 12 or 14, which is quite correct. But I was still working. I was still functioning."

Cook speaks with a sense of trepidation. The father-of-two is understandably nervous about sharing his story, particularly in the dog-eat-dog world of football.

But he hopes that by opening up, and spreading the word about the service that saved him - Inspire CRI (Crime Reduction Initiative) - others might also find help.

"It doesn't matter what you are or who you are, it can take hold of you," he said.

Cook is married with two children and had a stable job, but his life - certainly his drinking - had started to spiral out of control.

"The job was getting on top of me. It was hard work and you start worrying, so I'd have a drink to appease the situation and face it the day after," he explained.

"I had two months off with stress, which led to drinking a bit more. I was worried about not being there and it got to a stage where I was thinking 'I wonder if someone else is doing my job' and it was paranoia at that stage, which grew and grew."

There were other significant triggers too.

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