IAN DARLER was man of the match the final time Cambridge United hosted FA Cup opponents Luton.
However that’s removed from the most important accolade that the Abbey Stadium groundsman has acquired in his 43 seasons on the membership.
In 2020, Darker was awarded the British Empire Medal for his lengthy service to the U’s and for his charity work.
Beating the climate 4 years in the past in order that Cambridge’s League Two conflict with Luton might go forward was simply one other day on the workplace.
Darler mentioned: “It was the Beast from the East.
“I used to be right here simply earlier than 4am. We put one floodlight on and utilizing a rubber snow plough I’d made myself over time, we cleared 200 tonnes of snow off the pitch earlier than 7am.
“However that was simply the beginning of it as a result of we needed to get the stands clear and all of the areas round, put salt down.
“To listen to the announcement, ‘Man of the match: Cambridge United groundsman Ian Darler and his workers’, was superb.”
However being instructed he had been honoured by the Queen was an excessive amount of for Darler.
He mentioned: “Once I obtained the cellphone name, I assumed it was a wind-up.
“I did inform the chap, ‘Who the hell do you assume you’re kidding?’ Since you simply don’t anticipate it.”
No-one on the membership or the broader group would argue that Darler didn’t deserve the gong.
He was the youngest groundsman within the Soccer League when he took over on the Abbey Stadium in 1979 on the age of 19.
Darler acquired his first switch supply at his very first residence recreation as a result of the visiting Leicester board had been so impressed along with his pitch.
And in 1987, Coventry joint boss John Sillett pronounced the Abbey turf higher than the Wembley floor the place his facet had received the FA Cup months earlier.
However Darler turned down a transfer to top-flight HIghfield Highway and a variety of others down the years.
He mentioned: “Cambridge gave me the chance and I assumed I ought to stay loyal.
“And, forgive the pun, I don’t at all times consider the grass is greener on the opposite facet.”
The primary motive why the grass on the Abbey has (principally) stayed inexperienced is Darler’s devotion.
The multi-award-winning groundsman estimates that he has blagged supplies and gear value one million kilos from suppliers throughout his tenure, in addition to placing in about £30,000 of his personal cash.
Legendary U’s boss John Beck did successfully power Darler to down instruments at one level, telling him the pitch was too good for his group’s type of play.
However Darler was quickly again after complaints concerning the floor. He has a unique tackle claims in former Cambridge striker Steve Claridge’s autobiography that he let the grass develop longer within the corners, underneath orders from Beck, to carry up lengthy balls into the channels.
Darler mentioned: “The pitch had been destroyed from them coaching on it and we had been left with a diamond form that was completely waterlogged.
“The one method they may play was with an inch of sand on it.
“The one a part of the pitch that HAD any grass was the corners!”
It reminded him of certainly one of his favorite Abbey Stadium moments. In April 1984, a Newcastle group that includes Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley, Terry McDermott arrived needing a degree to safe promotion again to the highest flight.
Darler mentioned: “They had been virtually already celebrating after they obtained off the bus.
“For us to win 1-0 at residence – Kevin Smith took the penalty, who was a Geordie – to disclaim them that with the group they’d then – unbelievable.”
Darler has dozens of nice tales and put the printable ones in his ebook “Life’s A Pitch”.
They embody how he turned concerned in charity work and why his present bid to boost funds for psychological well being service Shout is so near his coronary heart.
Cambridge gave Darler a testimonial in 2004 and he donated a few of the money to East Anglian Kids’s Hospices.
That led to him establishing Cambridge Charity Fundraisers and producing tens of hundreds of kilos for native causes by way of sportsmen’s dinners and fishing occasions.
However in 2013, Darker had a severe accident at work that resulted in a number of surgical procedures and years of psychological well being issues. After considering suicide, he was recognized with despair and finally with Publish Traumatic Stress Dysfunction.
Darler returned to work absolutely solely in 2019 however his experiences have helped change inside the membership and past.
He mentioned: “We are actually no doubt among the finest golf equipment within the nation for speaking about and coping with psychological well being.”
This season Cambridge are supporting the Shout 85258 textual content message service by displaying it on their coaching equipment.
However Darler has gone additional, finishing a million-step problem and elevating £12,000 for the service.
Darker, who misplaced a good friend to suicide a yr in the past, mentioned: “The cash isn’t even the important thing factor.
“I needed to get individuals speaking and what has occurred over the past three months has been life-changing.
“If I might stop one different individual going by way of what I went by way of and what my good friend went by way of, that’s all I’m on the lookout for.”
However at 62 Darler is just not on the lookout for a brand new job, regardless of working days of 11 hours or extra as he combines his head groundsman function with being matchday security officer and stadium supervisor.
He mentioned: “I’ve simply renegotiated my contract and it might preserve me right here till I’m 70.
“I like the job. I like the general public in and across the recreation.
“I dwell it and breathe it. My spouse says I spend extra time on the pitch than I do along with her.
“However that’s the job.”
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/soccer/8316896/long-serving-cambridge-united-groundsman-beat-beast-from-east-earned-gong-from-queen/ Lengthy-serving Cambridge United groundsman beat Beast from East, earned gong from Queen – The Irish Solar