George Roberts (53) is a groundsman at Old Trafford Football Stadium (the home of Manchester United.) He lives in Middleton with wife Catherine (49) and son William (11).
I get up at seven to the sound of my alarm clock which plays a nice Elton John tune. My wife Catherine wakes up with me. I go and wake up William who needs to get ready for his day at school. I then go for a shower and get dressed into my smart work clothes. I’ve always liked to look smart; I’ve got a few expensive designer suits in my wardrobe and a nice pair of shoes. Then I head off downstairs, turn on the telly, and make myself some breakfast which usually consists of a fried egg with some bread, a glass of orange juice and a nice hot cup of tea. After breakfast I sit and watch the breakfast new on BBC1, or read the early morning papers which are delivered every morning direct to my house.
After saying goodbye to Catherine and William, I head off to work at around 8 o’ clock. The journey from my home in Middleton to Old Trafford normally takes around 25 minutes but an early morning jam in Manchester can make the journey take over 45 minutes, so I always set off a little early. I go through the heart of Manchester and out again to reach Old Trafford F.C.
At around 8.25 – 8.30 I arrive at the stadium. I go through the main gates and into the stadium. My main duties at the job are to keep the playing pitch in pristine condition leading into a home fixture. I have to water the turf, keep it nice and short whilst trying hard not to over-cut it, and fix any uneven pieces of turf that there may be. I work with around eight others who help with the duties. I have become really good mates with them over the years and always have a good chat with them in the morning about the other night, what was in the new and about general things that have been going on.
A few weeks ago we had a heated argument about Jaap Stam’s recent auto-biography. My opinion was that Man Utd made a bad decision by selling Stam, regardless of his auto-biography statements about the team, but Jim – a co-worker – believes he got what was coming and deserved to be thrown out of the team because of his pitiful remarks. There was a tense atmosphere in the air between me and the lads that day, but we soon made up and continued our “friendly” chats about daily life.
Our chief groundsman – Mike – is really kind and doesn’t stress us about working too hard and putting us under pressure. Sometimes I meet some big players arriving at the stadium such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and the new kids Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron.
After doing some more work on the pitch I have my lunch at 12.30. Sometimes I head to the local restaurant with my mates for a nice dinner, or I go over to the cafï¿½ for a double cream cappuccino. I love my cappuccinos ever since I first tasted one some 25 years ago. I’ve even got a fancy ï¿½100 cappuccino maker at home, which makes splendid cappuccinos (you would expect that for ï¿½100!). Normally, though, I just eat in the Old Trafford sandwich bar, getting a double bacon sandwich with a bottle of water and some sort of dessert. They have lots of weird and bizarre desserts on offer there. I always tend to try one of the new ones which I haven’t tried before.
At around 1.30 it’s back to work. The first thing I do after lunch is to go and visit the chief groundsman Mike in his office. I’m his assistant in some ways. I’m his right hand man as most people call it. However my ambition is to become chief groundsman myself. It would be a huge honour for me if I was promoted to chief groundsman. Anyway, in his office we chat about what we’ve done on the pitch and what we should and shouldn’t do. I mostly know what we should and shouldn’t do but there’s always something new you learn every day.
He then tells me how to prepare fro the next match, how to keep the pitch ready and in perfect condition leading up to a home match. My work is very tough nowadays as there are normally at least one or two matches in a week – The premiership, Champion’s League, F.A cup and Worthington cup. But I still take pride in my job and enjoy it very thoroughly, as I have been a Man U fanatic since I was 10 years old and I have always wanted to work only for this club. When I was told that I had got the job I was on top of the world and really pleased my life-long dream had come true. Times have been tough here but I get through it most of the time.
During the remainder of the day – some 2 hours- I set off to the training pitch – the players have normally finished training by this time – to just sort out the turf and cut the grass, leaving it in good condition for the next day of training. Sometimes the team are still training, so I have a little chat with a few of them. Most of the team, including the coaching staff know me quite well now, as I have been seeing them for many years now.
At around 4pm my day at work is over and I head towards home, stopping for a double cream cappuccino on the way. When I reach my small, comfy semi-detached home, in Middleton my wife Catherine and son William are normally at home – unless Cathy has to work overtime at her job as a secondary school teacher or William has got a detention. After coming home I sit and turn on the telly (if it’s not already on!) and catch up with the news or watch a show. At around 5.00 I have tea with the family. Sometimes we have a nice pastry or quiche or something like that. I then make a cappuccino in my impressive “cappuccino maker”. I don’t know how I would have lived without it! I then sit down again to watch my daily programmes such as “The Weakest Link” and “Neighbours”.
At 6.30 I go down to the local pub for a pint or two and have a chat with some of the lads who go there regularly. We just chat about what’s been going on, or talk about my very “interesting” days at work. A memory which jumps my mind regularly was when I told David Beckham the Mohican hairstyle looked horrible and need to go immediately, and the very next day he got rid of it! I impressed a lot of the locals that day and nowadays they keep asking me what I’ve been doing at the job and if I’ve met any players down there.
At around half seven or eight in the evening I arrive back home and watch T.V again whilst chatting to the family. William is always asking me if I chatted to any players or the manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Usually the answer is “no”. William is a Man Utd fanatic just like me. Catherine thinks we’re both mad, but I don’t think so! We’ve both got season tickets to all United’s home games. In my opinion I think Manchester United should win the premiership again this season, especially with their new signings, but they will have tough opposition by clubs like Arsenal, Leeds United and Liverpool.
Sometimes in the evenings I call my mother in Cornwall. She lives on her own in a little bungalow by the sea-side. My father died when I was only 19 from a heart-attack. My mum still hasn’t recovered from the tragic incident some 34 years ago. I go and visit her every couple of months to comfort her.
At around 11.00 I go to bed. Sometimes I go to bed reading one of my books from my large collection, but normally I just take my sleeping pill and doze off, awaiting my next day of work when it’ll all start over again.