Having spent 7 enjoyable years working for Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, as assistant groundsman, I have many stories and interesting anecdotes to share, – the flooded pitch that was around 10 feet deep will be saved for another time perhaps.  The one that I’m going to share today is when I had to replace a corner flag that broke in the last minute.

Sheffield Wednesday hosted Manchester City in the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup in the 2006/7 season.
Samaras had scored a penalty for City in the 77th minute that was cancelled out by Steve MacLean a minute later. With only a minute to go, a player crashed into the conerflag at the Leppings Lane End (west stand). This was the opposite corner to where the ground staff stood. We thought nothing of the incident as the flags usually stand back up on their own.

This wasn’t the case this time as the referee , Graham Poll signalled that the flag has to be replaced. The game was stopped.
Panic erupted within the ground staff, I scrambled off to the groundsmans shed to grab another flag, I ran back to the edge of the pitch where it dawned on me that I would have to run diagonally across to replace it.
So I ran, with this flag scared to lose my footing as the surface was quite greasy. A nerve-racking moment for any 18 year old!
Having 28,000 people clapping and shouting at me was quite an experience to have.
The funny thing was that ten seconds after the game was restarted the referee blew for full time!
Wednesday held on for a replay, but unfortunately lost 2 -1. Lee Bullen Scoring for Wednesday, Ireland and Vasell putting city through to the fourth round.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Having Joined Sheffield Wednesday to undertake my apprenticeship as a groundsman after a successful work experience, I left Hillsborough in 2011 to further my career.
I joined Arsenal Football Club, based at London Colney ( a place to be for an aspiring groundsman). I have since moved to Reading Football Club where I work at the training ground as 1st assistant groundsman, also working at Wembley Stadium on Match days.
I am involved with the Institute of groundsman (IOG), promoting the grounds care industry to young people and school leavers.


About Author

Stuart Mackley is currently one of the groundsmen for Reading FC. He has formerly worked for Sheffield Wednesday and regularly teams up with others members around the country to work at Wembley.