How I Got Started: Reece Watson, assistant groundsman, Emirates Stadium

Reece Watson, assistant groundsman, Emirates Stadium. Image: IOG
Reece Watson, assistant groundsman, Emirates Stadium. Image: IOG

How did you get started? During school holidays I helped out one of my neighbours doing landscaping and then, when I left school, I went to work for him full time. He used to be a bowling-green groundsman and he got me interested in turf. Then I got a match-day job with Arsenal FC at Highbury football stadium. When the club moved to the Emirates Stadium, they took me on full time.

What does your typical day involve? A lot of my time is spent on the light units. Every day they have to be moved for when we are watering and things. Divoting plays a big part too, along with repairing after games. Normally I work 8am to 4pm but on match days the hours are a lot longer.

What is the best part of your job? Before a game when we have worked so hard and been brushing all day trying to get footprints out. Before anyone walks out on the pitch and it looks perfect, it makes us feel good about our job. It doesn't feel like it at the time but it's nice to look back and see what we have done.

And the worst? Just watching it get trashed and starting all over again. That nice feeling just before a game lasts for about 20 minutes and then that's it. It's especially true for the first game of the season.

What piece of kit can't you do without? The lights; if we didn't use them then we wouldn't have grass on the south end of the pitch because it gets no sunlight.

What does the future hold? I'm not sure. I would like to be a head groundsman somewhere eventually. You never know what is going to be offered. I would like to influence groundsmanship, I would like to make a difference. I think anyone would like to achieve what Paul [Burgess, groundsman at Real Madrid] has done. I know I am very lucky to have worked with three of the best groundsmen in the country.

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