Behind the scenes with Steve McIlwham. Whammy talks to groundsman Dave Pinch, affectionally known to his friends as Pinch!
If you thought the job of groundsman simply meant cutting and marking out the pitch, then forget it!When I arrived to chat with Dave Pinch, he was swinging off the top of a floodlight pylon, 175 feet off the ground replacing a bulb.
Latics 47-year-old groundsman is a genuine master of all trades.“You have to be really, because we have to look after the whole stadium and not just the pitch, although it is the playing surface that people notice.Everyone you meet is a ‘groundsman’, they just think you pull a switch and turn everything round”, said Dave, who has been at Springfield Park for four years.
“I was at Tranmere for three and a half seasons, but felt restricted so, when Wigan approached me I jumped at the chance.It was a big challenge because at the time we still had Rugby League here.I said it would take me three seasons to get the pitch in the right condition and I was pretty accurate.Although this season the playing surface is the best it’s been”.
“We have put a lot of hard work into it and a lot of money has been spent to turn it from a mud heap into something to be proud of”, he added.“It takes time to build up the surface and get the right mixture of roots to grow”.
With the assistance of John Parr, Dave has turned our pitch into one of the best and despite 33 years in the trade he is still learning.“There are new techniques and new methods being developed all the time and in this job you never stop learning.You have to cope with all kinds of weather and frost is the worst and you can’t work a 9-5 day.You have to have complete dedication and work for little money”, said Dave, who is well-accomplished in the traditional groundsman’s art of complaining.
But his dedication has more than paid off, with a string of compliments from visiting teams about the high standard of the pitch.
One thing Dave would like to see at Springfield Park is a new sprinkler system.“That would cost £30,000 and just shows how much it costs nowadays to keep things up to scratch”, said Dave.
And finally, before Dave gets back to work, I asked him what his favourite pastime was.He said: “Scaring birds and keeping the twenty-five species of worms underneath the Springfield Park earth at bay!”
Keep up the good work.I’m sure all our supporters and players have delighted in the playing surface, particularly this season. Taken from the matchday programme on 30th November 1991