THE rest of the country may grind to a halt when the snow hits — but a team of staff at Bolton Wanderers works tirelessly to ensure games go ahead despite the bad weather.
Even when faced with more snowfall than forecasters predicted ahead of last month’s FA Cup clash with Everton, the pitch was match-fit thanks to a combination of hard work and technology.
About two inches of snow had been forecast, but about six fell, covering the pitch in a thick blanket.
Richard Norton, grounds manager at the club for 22 years, said: “We were watching the forecast a few days before and it wasn’t going to be as much as we actually got.
“We have a snow and ice plan which springs into action a few days before the event.
“All the relevant machinery was brought to site — tractors and snow ploughs from our other sites, Lostock and Euxton training grounds, whatever small buggies we could get our hands on.
“We had asked a few local contractors to be on standby if we needed them and they were brought in at about 2am.
“Most of the tractors were outside clearing the car park.”
Dedicated fans also helped clear footpaths and the pitch at The Reebok to avoid the match being postponed, with club staff starting work at 1am and continuing until noon on January 26.
About 40 people and six tractors were on hand to ensure the match kicked off at 3pm as planned.
Mr Norton said: “Inside, overnight, was the ground staff and, during the day, it was other members of staff and volunteers.
“Every game is important to us — we don’t like losing any games here.
“The game was never in doubt really. We didn’t have a pitch inspection.
“The undersoil heating had been on for a good few days beforehand.
“Because of the amount of snow that came down, the undersoil heating can’t cope with that amount.
“There was a layer of ice and water between the pitch and the snow.
“But the soil is perfect, there’s