Chorley groundsman on sleepless nights in pursuit of another FA Cup upset

Chorley groundsman Ben Kay has had to contend with sleepless nights in pursuit of their FA Cup dream.

Kay, 38, made headlines when he spent an entire night under a temporary tent covering the pitch at Victory Park to ensure their game against Derby County could go ahead after heavy snowfall.

“There’s a bit of a myth that we were asleep all night under the tent when we probably only got an hour or so, and hour and a half max!,” he jokes.

He is again working overtime with the tent re-installed ahead of the visit of Wolves on Friday night.

After contending with snowfall ahead of the third round clash, storms have caused more hard work ahead of the fourth round game.

And Kay has warned the Premier League club the conditions could help the non-league minnows cause an upset.

“It gives us that bit of advantage,” Kay says.

“Wolves won’t be used to our changing facilities, they’re nowhere near big enough for what they’ll bring with them.

“The floodlights will be an issue because they’re not as bright as the LEDs they have in the Premier League.

“The pitch won’t be as good as what they’re used to, so everything is in our favour and the potential is there to have another big scalp to our names.

“There’s history with Wolves after we actually beat them in the 1980s, and there’s no reason we can’t do the same again.

“I stayed on Monday night with the guys, put the tent on, but, actually, the ground was flooded.

“It’s covered at the moment but holding water, so we were just waiting for the generator to turn up so we could blow the water off and get the tent up.

“The tent will stay up until Thursday night or Friday morning depending how cold it gets, and the pitch will be fine come Friday night.

“You can just see the difference with a non-league ground compared to a Premier League ground, and just the day to day struggles we have to deal with compared to them.

“Everything is a leveller in our favour at the minute because it’s going to be something completely different for them.”

The sleepless nights and long hours to keep the Cup run alive are a small price to pay for Kay, who is just thankful to still make a living from the game that he loves.

How YOU can show your support to Chorley

Chorley have launched a virtual ticket incentive to allow fans to support the club for their historic FA Cup fourth round clash with Wolves.

The non-league outfit are missing out on crucial ticket revenue from such an important day because of the current Covid-19 regulations.

A virtual match ticket costs £10 – and you can purchase yours on the official club website here.

“I love working for Chorley," he declares. "I left school playing football and played non-league all my life, so I know how much these clubs mean to the community.

“To be part of it, it’s my ideal job. I’m only a 20 minute drive away, I get to be around the lads as I’m groundsman and facilities manager so I’m also laying out kit, getting the right boots dry, looking after the ground.

“We’re a small club, I think it’s only me and the CEO that are full-time, so it’s a brilliant job for me just to be involved in football.

“To me, I'm just doing my job but we're probably going beyond what is asked of us just because we know what it means to the football club."

Regardless of what happens to Chorley on Friday night, Kay’s FA Cup dream will continue after he received an invite to be part of the ground staff for the FA Cup final.

Wembley’s head groundsman, Karl Stanley, got in touch via Twitter last weekend to extend a dream invite.

“For me, it’s an unbelievable honour to go and work on our national stadium,” he says.

“It’s one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, so to actually be invited there is a privilege and I’m really happy someone high up has seen the work that goes on lower down the pyramid.

“As a kid, the FA Cup was the pinnacle of all football and the Cup final day was incredible.

“But my best memory, as a Wigan Athletic fan, is beating Man City a few years ago.

“We went to the semi-final and the final, and to actually see them defy all the odds and beat Man City was probably the greatest football achievement I’ve ever witnessed.”

Could an upset for Chorley against Wolves surpass Wigan’s unlikely FA Cup triumph as Kay’s favourite moment?

“I think it’d be up there,” he adds.

“There aren’t many cup finals where you’ve had such an underdog beat such favourites like Man City were that day.

“But it’d be a massive scalp and the incentive is another home tie against Southampton or Arsenal is going to spur the lads on to dig that little bit deeper.”

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