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NLP: SPARE A THOUGHT...

8 February 2014

It was quite apt that this page was in today's programme...

The Non-League Paper Column
By Matt Badcock
 
You may have noticed it’s been raining recently. And you may have noticed it has been playing havoc with the fixture schedule.

Already there is talk of four-game weeks, season extensions and allowing players to play with armbands (and we haven’t even had the annual snow dump yet!)

All in all, it’s a great bloody pain. But let’s put aside the fixture pile-up, the tired legs of footballers, let’s leave the 3G argument for another day and forget the suddenly blank pages of newspapers that need filling at the last minute.

For today we are going to remember the unsung heroes of the horrible weather: Groundsmen and programme editors. 

These are the hardy lot, who deserve our thoughts. And in some cases prayers.
Not many of us can know the frustration of putting in all those hours before a game, only for a referee to come along and, with the roll of a ball, call it off. Thanks very much for all your efforts, but no go.

A groundsman knows his pitch like the back of his hand and every blade of grass is lovingly cared for. It’s an art form. A science most of us will never understand. I wouldn’t even be able to get the lines straight! 

And our Saturday afternoons throughout the winter are in their hands. Often they’ll be at the ground earlier than anyone else, surveying the damage of the previous evening’s rainfall and grafting to get it playable.

Then when the game is on, they might have to listen to managers, players and fans slag it off. It’s a cruel business.

Programme editors must share their frustration. Getting the thoughts of the chairman, speaking to the manager and interviewing a player all takes time.

Then they have to update all the stats, get the profiles from the visiting club and find some nice pictures. Each page is then forensically proofed for misplaced apostrophes and misspelt names before sending it across to the printers – all with the rain lashing down outside.

When the game gets postponed, they have to start a lot of it again for the rearranged fixture in two months. Who knows, this programme column may never see the light of day (for the best some might say). 

Yes, the best groundsman and programme editors are recognised with awards come the end of the season. But next time a game is off, spare them a thought.

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