Ian Darler, Head Groundsman at Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium for 40 years, looks back on an eventful career in his autobiography, Life’s a Pitch: The Groundsman’s Tale, published this summer and on sale now!
From an apprenticeship that kindled his love affair with the turf to welcoming the world’s biggest football club to his stadium, Ian has met every challenge head-on, and encountered some of the greatest names in the sport along the way.
He’s won just about every award the greenkeeping industry has to offer, managed his stadium through tempestuous and terrific times and dealt with as many life-and-death situations as some paramedics.
While turning out the kind of surface players dream of, he’s rubbed shoulders with some of football’s funniest characters, crossed swords with the occasional manager and coped with catastrophes that would have floored a lesser mortal.
o why Ian is pictured on the book’s front cover in toeless wellies
o the perils of working with high-spirited young footballers
o which manager told him to ignore the pitch and go fishing
o why he spent one day at work just hanging around.
But Ian also talks bravely about the life-threatening incident that plunged him into a very dark place, and sheds light on the reasons why he works tirelessly to raise money for good causes.
Throughout the book, friends and colleagues who have come to value Ian’s skill and devotion pay tribute to a man who, besides showing peerless skill as a groundsman, has shouldered the burden of two other roles: those of stadium manager and matchday safety officer.
Life’s a Pitch is published by sports and special interest publisher G2 Entertainment and is available for £12.99 through bookshops and online platforms.The book will be available in the Cambridge United Club Shop, which re-opens on 1st July.