Tributes for Burton groundsman

Tributes for Burton groundsman: Tributes have been paid to a green-fingered South Derbyshire man who tended to Burton Albion’s hallowed turf more than 30 years.

Alan Roberts has sadly died at home, aged 88.

Tributes for Burton groundsman

Mr Roberts worked most of his life as a coal sampler at Rawdon Pit, but in his spare time enjoyed looking after the bowling greens in and around Swadlincote.

He always had a love of football and was delighted to become the Brewers’ groundsman, first at Eton Park and later at The Pirelli Stadium.

Alan first started tending the pitch in the early 1980s, when Neil Warnock was manager, and continued until after the club moved to the Pirelli, which holds nearly 7,000 fans, in 2005.

His son, Paul, said: “He only really stopped because at his age when they moved to full-time at the new ground. That was too much for him.

“He was always there most mornings with different volunteers helping him at different times, quite often supporters who would come in if there was snow or waterlogged pitches.

“The football was his first priority, but he also looked after the bowls green at Newhall Social and quite a few other people asked him to help their groundsman. People used to pick his brains when things went wrong.

“He was a farm labourer in his early life and that is where he picked up the skills and his real love was always working outside.

“I was lucky enough to referee at a decent level and went to grounds all over the country and my dad was always keen to go with me when he could and if we turned up at a waterlogged pitch and I thought the game would be off he would say ‘ask the groundsman, he knows better than anybody’.

“He could walk on any pitch, bend down and tell you what type of grass it was. He absolutely loved it.”

Alan who was 88, passed away at home on Monday, November 4.

Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson, said: “It was very sad to hear that such a great servant to the football club had passed away.

“Alan will be fondly remembered by the many people he worked with over the years after battling with all the elements to make sure our games went ahead.

“Groundsmen are the unsung heroes without whom we could not enjoy football matches on a Saturday afternoon.

“Our thoughts are with his wife, Joyce, and all his family and friends at this time.”

Alan is remembered by Joyce, Paul – and Paul’s cousin, David, who Alan and Joyce brought up from an early age.

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