0 ‘Loons Legend’ Forfar Athletic groundsman lifts lid on lockdown life at deserted Station Park

Martin Gray's heart sank when the SFA announced their recent three-week shutdown of lower league football - but the Forfar groundsman has thanked their players for keeping his chin up.

Station Park in Forfar.

SNS Group

Gray has spent 27 years at Station Park so knows the Angus club better than anyone having become something of a Loons legend.

The 50-year-old admits the temporary suspension of the season has taken its toll, but has revealed how Stuart Malcom's League One basement battlers have rallied to maintain morale during these difficult days.


Gray said: "It's been really tough the last ten days or so. I don't mind admitting I feel lost - like so many others in the lower leagues.

"Forfar's like part of my family and has been for the best part of 30 years, from when I started out as a ball-boy. Not being able to see the players and management team twice a week at training - and then on Saturday for match-day - is hard to take."

Forfar boss Stuart Malcom in his playing days with the Loons.

"We hear about the effect lockdown has on the players who're not able to do what they love, but there's the behind-the-scenes people like myself who absolutely love their job as well. We still keep in contact through Facebook. So we have regular chats among ourselves."

"To be honest, the players have been absolutely brilliant in keeping me going. They're a great bunch."

"They know what I'm like by mow. And they understand that I'm missing seeing everybody. We've got a few characters in the team who give everyone a laugh - and that's what we need right now."

The main stand at Forfar's Station Park home.

'Sleepless nights'

Gray recalls the agony of lockdown earlier in the year but being able to go into his beloved Station Park this time round has helped ease the pain.

He added: "The first lockdown was a killer. Not being able to go down to the ground and just check on things to make sure everything was alright caused me sleepless nights.

"But I'm still allowed into the ground just now which is the big difference for me personally."

"Ok, you don't see anyone but there's still so many jobs needing to be done around the club - like keeping the astroturf clean and making sure the battery on the club minibus doesn't go flat."

"So at least that has kept me busy. But you still can't beat hearing the noise coming from the dressing room - or the jokes before training starts - and hopefully that comes back soon."

'The only way is up'

Forfar are sitting at the bottom of the table but Gray is convinced the Angus outfit can climb clear of the relegation zone once the season gets up and running again.

He said: "We're all in this together.

"The spirit at this club is amazing. I've seen so much over the years but there's still a remarkable vibe around the place. We fight for each other on and off the park, and we'll do that until the end of the season."

"Nobody enjoys being where we are right now in the league table. But the only way is up once the season resumes - and getting back to normal will be a big boost for everyone."

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