Town groundsman says a lesser referee than Attwell would have caved in

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues head groundsman Alan Ferguson today heaped more praise on referee Stuart Attwell than on the ability of himself and his team to see Saturday’s game against Leicester City completed.

Ferguson produced an army of snow sweepers made up of ground staff, spare stewards, community scheme coaches, cleaners and office staff to work on the pitch at the interval and again when Attwell called a second half halt to assess the situation.

But is Attwell who - apart from the players - played the most important role as Town gained three crucial points.

“A lesser man would have caved in under all the pressure,“ said Ferguson.

“He deserves enormous credit for getting the game on and making sure it was completed.

“The referee was unbelievable brave with Leicester leaving him in no doubt they felt it should have been abandoned.

“To be honest I think if it had been 0-0 after 20 minutes or so he would have called a halt then, but he stuck to his guns and although not a spectacle conditions were playable.

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“Mr Attwell arrived on Friday night and was with us every hour during the day and he has come in for some criticism in his career but he was a star on Saturday.“

Ferguson says that the pitch will not ‘look pretty’ for the rest of the season and that when he is able to examine it closely tomorrow it may have lost 50% of its grass cover.

“We had a tractor on it during the day to break up ice that formed on the edge of the covers in the four corners,“ added the award-winning grounds man who manager Roy Keane and the players say deserves to be rewarded with a special Christmas box.

“At 3am on Saturday the temperature was minus nine and at kick-off time it was plus one.

“The arrival of the snow helped a bit as it led to the temperature rising slightly and made for a softer surface.

“It was a fire fighting exercise for us, and we knew snow was expected but we were hoping it was going to miss us.

“We were prepared with a large band of helpers with the security officer able to ’lend’ me some of his stewards as the stands were not a filled as they are for some matches and everybody else mucked in with no shortage of volunteers.

“When half time came we were ready, and again when the referee called a second half halt.”

Ferguson says that the temperature should rise later this week and he intends putting the cover back up on Christmas Eve.

“This should protect the playing surface for the Boxing Day home game with Watford,” he said.

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