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Chorley groundsman invited to Wembley after sleeping on the pitch

Non-league Chorley moved a step closer to Wembley after pulling off an upset in the FA Cup against a covid hit Derby County side.

Even if the club don't make it the the final in May groundsman Ben Kay is set for an appearance at the national stadium after ensuring Saturday's tie did not fall victim to the weather.

Snow and freezing conditions in Lancashire left the game in doubt, but Kay's superhuman efforts in getting the match on ensured it wasn't just the club's players who earned the plaudits.

"To top a great weekend off, Karl Stanley the head groundsman at Wembley, has invited me to go and work as part of his ground staff on the FA Cup final," Kay told BBC Radio Lancashire.

"For me, our national stadium Wembley is probably the best pitch in the world with one of the greatest grounds and the most respected people in our industry.

"I messaged back saying it would be an honour - but he just needs Jamie to let me have the day off!"

Kay did not just face a battle against the elements as the hours ticked down to kick-off against the Rams - but against his equipment too.

"On Friday we had the snowfall which put things back and the temperature dropped," he said.

"At 10:00 GMT on Friday our generator decided to break down. The engineer was, unbe­li­evably, in Derby. He made it here within two hours. Rumour has it he was a Nottingham Forest fan so he needed to get the game on so we could beat Derby.

"We were back up and running at around 14:00 but I would say until 05:00 on Saturday, I was pretty confident the game was going to be called off."

Kay and his team even had to get creative to keep the heating tents on the pitch from falling over.

"We got the free-kick mannequins and pushed them right up [against the tent] as far as possible," he added.

"We had some small space heaters that we pushed right up so we had to stay with the tent because if the wind got underneath the tent and blew the drapes, the mannequins would fall over which would mean the heater would burn holes in the tent."

 

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