Chorley FC: Groundsman invited to Wembley for FA Cup final after battle to get tie with Derby on

Tents were set up to stop the pitch from freezing
Tents were set up to stop the pitch from freezing

Non-league Chorley moved a step closer to Wembley after pulling off a fairytale win FA Cup against Championship giants Derby County.

But even if Jamie Vermiglio’s National League North side fail to make it past the fourth round, groundsman Ben Kay is set for an appearance at the national stadium after ensuring Saturday’s tie did not fall victim to the weather.

Snow and freezing conditions in Lancashire left the game in doubt, but Kay’s superhuman efforts in getting the match on ensured it wasn’t just the club’s players who earned the plaudits.

“To top a great weekend off, Karl Stanley the head groundsman at Wembley, has invited me to go and work as part of his groundstaff on the FA Cup final,” Kay told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“For me, our national stadium Wembley is probably the best pitch in the world with one of the greatest grounds and the biggest respected people in our industry.

“I messaged back saying it would be an honour but he just needs Jamie to let me have the day off!”

Kay did not just face a battle against the elements as the hours ticked down to kick-off against the Rams – but against his equipment too.

“On Friday we had the snowfall which put things back and the temperature dropped,” he said.

“At 10:00 GMT on Friday our generator decided to break down. The engineer was, unbelievably, in Derby. He made it here within two hours. Rumour has it he was a Nottingham Forest fan so he needed to get the game on so we could beat Derby.

“We were back up and running at around 14:00 but I would say until 05:00 on Saturday, I was pretty confident the game was going to be called off.”

FA Cup: Chorley 2-0 Derby County highlights

Kay and his team even had to get creative to keep the heating tents on the pitch from falling over.

“We got the free-kick mannequins and pushed them right up [against the tent] as far as possible,” he added.

“We had some small little space heaters that we pushed right up so we had to stay with the tent because if the wind got underneath the tent and blew the drapes, the mannequins would fall over which would mean the heater would burn holes in the tent.”

Chorley, who had never progressed beyond the FA Cup second round before this season, will find out their opponents in the last 32 in Monday’s draw, which is live on BBC One, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website from 19:00 GMT.

BBC News