Dedicated Earls Barton groundsman Tony wins award after 40 years of hard work

McDonald's Grounds Team of the Year Winner Karl Standley, Tony Sanders with Sir Geoff Hurst.
McDonald's Grounds Team of the Year Winner Karl Standley, Tony Sanders with Sir Geoff Hurst.

A World Cup winning legend was on hand to present a dedicated Earls Barton groundsman with an award at Wembley for his years of hard work.

Tony Sanders' 24 years maintaining the pitches in Earls Barton saw him collect the Grounds Team of the Year award at this year's FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards.

Award judges say Tony, 75, has become a pillar of the Earls Barton FC community and is responsible for some of the best-prepared pitches at the team's level of the game. He covers two grounds, the Pioneer Spotsground and the Grange Sportsfield and has been a referee for 32 years.

But preparing the pitch only covers a fraction of his impact, they said.

From cleaning the changing rooms and putting up and taking down nets, to setting corner flags and welcoming referees or stepping in as a linesman, Tony is "the rock on which community clubs like his are built".

Tony accepted his award from football legend Sir Geoff Hurst during the half-time break of the Liverpool v Manchester City Community Shield match at Wembley Stadium - watched on by 77,000 fans.

“I have been involved with the Grassroots Awards since the beginning and the stories of the winners never fail to impress me," said McDonald’s ambassador Sir Geoff Hurst.

"Tony should be extremely proud of his work and grassroots football in Northampton is a much better place with Tony a part of it.”

The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards recognise and celebrate the tireless volunteers who dedicate so much time to the grassroots game.

The awards are now in their tenth year and Tony joins a long list of inspirational grassroots football heroes who marched down Wembley way to collect their coveted awards.