Accrington Stanley’s groundsman Martyn ‘Buzzer’ Cook is leaving the Wham Stadium and will join the groundstaff at Burnley FC, working at the Barnfield Training Centre.
‘Buzzer’ has been in charge of Stanley’s pitch since 2007, signed up by then chairman Eric Whalley and coming in for the infamous Bury game.
“Eric Whalley offered me the job in 2007 because I worked on the parks and gardens at Hyndburn Council and I took over the last game of the season against Bury,” said Buzzer, whose dad Dennis managed Stanley in the 1980s.
“It was a difficult day as it was strange because they changed all the officials before the game due a betting scandal, there were a lot of things going on! And I have been here ever since.
“I have enjoyed a lot about the job, I have enjoyed having a laugh with the players, the media, the officials and everything about the club.
“I think I could have written a book about it every day, it’s been that eventful!
“Dealing with the pitch has changed a lot. When I first started it was terrible, we didn’t have the money to spend on the pitch.
“I will never forget Paul Merson mentioned it once and said it was like a ploughed field. I think that was the time, in 2011, that we went on the run to the Play-Offs and we seemed to know how to play on it.
“Jimmy Ryan was dynamite and the players were brilliant. How we didn’t lose Jimmy in the middle of the pitch I will never know because it was that heavy!
“It worked until the last game, the semi-final against Stevenage, when we lost and Paul Merson then called it a ‘ploughed field.’
“Any criticism always hurt as it wasn’t really my fault, I couldn’t do a lot as money was tight. It was out of my hands.
“Then Richard Sharrock from Danvic came in to help me and we started doing a bit more. It was still on a slope and the drainage was terrible.
“Every winter was like a jigsaw puzzle with the frost covers as we never had enough to cover it all and it was a piece here and a piece there as again we had no money to buy frost covers and we were even using tarpaulin from lorry sides on the pitch!
“I remember before an FA Cup game, we dug out the old sprinklers from Morecambe’s Christie Park ground and put them into our ground. It took a full day!
“The pitch has improved vastly since then, it’s improved a hell of a lot.
“Andy Holt came in and, because the pitch was that bad, especially when the North-West was flooded, I think he realised we had a problem.
“Around three years ago we got an all-singing all dancing pitch, costing around £300,000 and it’s the best it has been.”
Buzzer has never shied away from his alcohol problem, which was part of his early life at Accrington.
“I was a functioning alcoholic, I was drinking 16 cans a day as my dad was ill before he died.
“I was in denial for quite a while but knew I had to do something about it.
“James Beattie was manager at the time I was going through rehab and he was great. He always said go and do your rehab, take the time you need and as long as the pitch is right on Saturday, that’s good enough for me. That was a big moment for me.
“I have now been sober eight years in September and it’s down to my family and people at Accrington who supported me at that time.”
Buzzer now feels it’s time for a change.
“I have spent a major part of my life at Accrington, I have seen people come and go and I will miss it.
“I want a new challenge, my head is in a good place and I feel excited about starting a new job at Burnley FC. I will be assistant groundsman, looking after the pitches at the Barnfield Training Centre. They have amazing equipment and it’s a fresh start for me.”