Preparations for the England team's Euro 2016 training ground in France were set back two days after nationwide strikes deprived their lawnmowers and tractors of petrol
Despite the industrial action - and freak torrential rainfall that has seen parts of France declared national disaster areas - the groundsmen in Chantilly are still just about on course to complete the training ground as planned for Roy Hodgson's men when they arrive at their base camp on Monday.
"We've had to cope with the weather and the fuel strike. When the weather's been good, we had no diesel, when the weather was bad we've had diesel (but couldn't operate the machines due to the rain)," said a source at the Stade des Boulognes, where pitches have been built from scratch to meet FA requirements.
English groundsmen Andrew Cubitt, 25, and his colleague Matthew Davies, 25, arrived in Chantilly on May 23, and on Friday, were putting the finishing touches to the "pitch of honour" where the likes of Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane will practice manoeuvres ahead of their first game against Russia next Saturday in Marseille. Two French groundsmen were also working flat out to finish the job in time.
Pitch two has also been totally upgraded for goalkeeper practice, although when The Telegraph visited on Thursday, the goals had still not been erected. Getting the ground ready in time was always going to be a challenge, as when England announced its decision to use Chantilly as a base, the FA issued pictures of old and worn-out, and in one case sloping, pitches that mostly serve as home to local amateur side US Chantilly.
But organisers had no idea they would also have to cope with added strain of some of the wettest weather in recent memory in the area, which has seen the Seine rise to its highest levels in 35 years and eleven people killed in floods, as well as - perhaps more predictably in France - crippling strikes.
French unions angry at labour reforms that they believe will dilute their powers have been blocking six of the country's eight petrol refineries for the past two weeks, at one stage leading to almost half the country's stations running DRY and diesel particularly hard hit.
While the state opened the taps on its strategic reserves, panic buying meant the shortages persisted into this week. The stadium source said: "The strikes have held us back with operations as we couldn't fuel the machines up for the jobs we needed to do. Some tractors take up to 40 to 50 litres of diesel. We needed to put some sand on the pitch last week, which held us up a day or two, and at that time, the weather was actually really good so it was frustrating."
Despite the setbacks, organisers say all should be well for England's arrival on Monday, and even for Saturday, when the mayor of Chantilly will invite residents to see the epic work done on their municipal pitches.
But the team are taking no chances with any more shortages as they will have to continue to maintain the pitches during England's campaign that could last more than a month should it reach the final stages.
"We've got a little bit in stock so we should be alright now," said the source. "We now need to cut and mark and then clear up after training sessions." The pitch is a synthetically reinforced pipe and slit drained pitch with the added benefit of fibres and reinforcement. Replicating stadium pitch conditions, it has an automatic irrigation system and is similar to the one used in Poland by the English FA.
Chantilly was chosen because of its proximity to Paris and Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, and because it is calm and leafy, renowned for its race horsing introduced by the English in the mid-1800s.
For the original article, visit www.telegraph.co.uk.