0 Malky Mackay hails perfect Cardiff City pitch

cardiff fcA Welshman is hitting a perfect pitch in his quest to give Bluebirds players a playing surface to enhance their Premier League dreams.

Phil Williams is Cardiff City's head groundsman - and his work has earned a huge thumbs up from manager Malky Mackay.

Williams, from Rhymney, puts time and care into the Cardiff City Stadium pitch and Mackay's verdict is clear.

"It's phenomenal. Our head groundsman, Phil, and his team have done and are doing a terrific job.

"There is nothing better than walking into a modern stadium and seeing a beautiful pitch surface. That's exactly what we have."

The work of Williams and his groundstaff in providing a top-quality surface has played a crucial role in City achieving their magnificent seven - a club record run of home wins at the start of a season against Huddersfield, Wolves, Leeds, Blackpool, Birmingham, Watford and Burnley.

"When I came to the stadium with Watford a couple of seasons ago I was surprised at how barren the surface was," says Mackay. "It was flat and big, but barren.

"I came to Cardiff from Watford where we shared with the Saracens rugby team and had a pitch which was in the 12th year of what was supposed to be a 10-year life.

"Our players need a pitch to make the most of the footballing quality we have in our squad and the groundstaff are doing a fantastic job. The pitch lights have helped and there is no rugby played at our stadium now, but the work Phil and his team get through to help our players has been phenomenal."

City's playmakers Peter Whittingham, Craig Bellamy, Craig Noone and more appreciate the work done by the groundstaff - and the surface certainly helps their passing game.

It's been a huge leap from the old Ninian Park surface to the ultra-modern facilities at the new stadium.

When Williams first joined the club almost 12 years ago he worked at Ninian Park, while he is now caring for a playing surface which is now the best it's been since City moved in.

"My job is to provide the best surface I can for the team and that's been my aim from the first day I joined the club," says Williams, who has worked with Mackay, Dave Jones, Lennie Lawrence, Alan Cork and Bobby Gould.

"My working relationship with all of them has been good. If I get anything wrong I will hold my hands up and admit it, while if I feel the manager is wrong I'll state my case.

"It's best to be honest with people and they have, thankfully, always seemed to appreciate that.

"I've always been a Bluebirds fan and it's fantastic to be playing a part during what are good times for the club. My working life as a groundsman now covers 48 years and it would be fantastic if I could hit the half century with the Bluebirds playing Premier League football. It's a burning ambition of mine to work for a Cardiff City club in the Premier.

"I believe Malky Mackay and his players can get there and everybody on the groundstaff will do all they can to help. Malky's aim is all about teamwork. He couldn't do his job successfully on his own and it's the same in my role.

"It's all about our team. Our strength is that we all work together for the good of the football club and our club team."

The Desso style pitch is a natural grass surface with millions of artificial grass fibres added to help protect the surface.

City have almost spent close to half a million pounds on pitch lights which are on and shining 24 hours a day unless the Bluebirds are out there training or playing. Those lights are crucial to ensuring the surface is in prime condition and stays that way.

"The lights have made an enormous difference to our work," says Williams. "At Ninian Park we were working on an old pitch, but here at the new stadium we have had the opportunity to work on a new pitch and a modern construction.

"The fact that we don't share with the rugby team has made a difference because we no longer have back-to-back matches. There are probably almost as many games overall with occasional internationals plus Cardiff's under-21 development team playing there, but there is no longer the scenario where the pitch is being used two or three matches in a few days."

Cardiff's stadium manager is Wayne Nash, who was once an apprentice to Williams for five years.

It was Nash who persuaded Williams to leave his job at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale and take charge of caring for Cardiff City's pitch.

"I had been asked before about working for Cardiff City, Glamorgan Cricket Club and even at the Arms Park, but when my kids were young I wanted to be nearby and not travelling all the time," says Williams.

"They grew up and got on with their own lives and it was Wayne Nash who twisted my arm. He was stadium manager at Ninian Park and has that role in the new stadium. It was the right time, I said yes and have loved every minute of working for City."

Williams is in charge of making sure Cardiff City's main pitch is ready for the Bluebirds match after match. He can be seen out on the pitch with his staff at half-time and after both first team and under-21 matches.

The City groundstaff also maintain and prepare Cardiff Athletic Stadium's three pitches where the club's youth Academy teams play.

"The job of a head groundsman has changed dramatically over the years, but our aim is the same," says Williams. "I want Malky Mackay and his players to enjoy playing on the Cardiff City Stadium pitch. So far so good."

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/footballnation/football-news/2012/11/02/malky-mackay-hails-perfect-cardiff-city-pitch-91466-32148531/#ixzz2BC000cV8

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