‘If I can help Gareth and the boys I will’ - ex-Town groundsman Ferguson’s leading role in Russia
- Credit: PA
Former Ipswich Town groundsman Alan Ferguson says he’s done everything he can to help Gareth Southgate and England ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium tonight (7pm).
The Scotsman built a reputation as one of the best in the business during his 15 years working on the Portman Road pitch before following ex-Blues chairman David Sheepshanks to The FA to work on the surfaces at St George’s Park and Wembley up until June last year.
He has spent the last 10 months preparing six of the 12 pitches being used for the World Cup in Russia and, during the tournament, has been maintaining the surface at the showpiece venue.
“Managers are able to put in their requests regarding the pitch directly to me before the games and then that has to be sanctioned by FIFA,” explained the 58-year-old.
“If there is anyway I can help Gareth and the boys I will. When I worked at St George’s Park he was the Under-21 coach and I always used to joke with him that he was my favourite. He was so down to earth and accessible.
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“There were quite a few doubters when he was appointed, but he has done brilliantly. I saw how he operated with the younger age groups and he always believed that he could work the same way further up too.
“I’m a proud Scot, but I’m pleased to see England doing well having worked with The FA for so long.”
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He continued: “Every team is entitled to a one hour training session in the stadium before their game. Some have not taken that because they don’t want to travel in from their base camp, but my advice would be for England to do it. It just enables you to get your bearings and get a feel for the pitch. The Luzhniki is unlike any other stadium. It’s only 10,000 seats less than Wembley and it generates a hell of an atmosphere.”
Ferguson added: “I’m really proud to be a small Ipswich Town connection at what is turning out to be a fabulous tournament. Having produced the previous two managers who took England to the semi-finals of a World Cup (Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson) it’s incredible what a provincial club like Town has done really.”