Wembley Grounds Manager talks about his pitch preparations.
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Watch the FATV interview with Tony Stones here
The Field of Play, the Hallowed Turf, the bowling green, the carpet, the ground beneath our feet. However you describe almost two acres of grass, it serves as the gateway to our dreams of everything that is possible in the beautiful game.
While children recreate the feats of their heroes on concrete streets with aluminium cans, it is on lush grass with leather footballs where dreams come true.
The days of hobnail boots, stitched pig's bladders and sodden mud fields are long gone. Today everything is done to provide the best platform for players to reach their potential, and at Wembley every effort has gone into the playing surface befitting the best stadium in the World.
Wembley Grounds Manager Tony Stones and his team have been working day and night, including a 24-hour shift over the two FA Cup Semi-Finals, to ensure Wembley has a surface that cannot be beaten.
The real work began in February 2010 when circumstances called for more drastic methods.
"Senior Management decided on the Desso system
last year," Stones explains. "With everything that was happening last year they had to ensure it fitted with the calendar and the plans they had in place. They took the decision to allow for a six week break to give us the time to make the system work.
"From where we were with the surface it was a move forward, it was working at Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa. The Board visited those pitches and then took the decision to go with that system, it was exciting to be part of it.
"It makes you excited to come into work every morning, to do what we do with the pitch is like art."
He added: "On FA Cup Final day we arrive at Wembley at 5.30am, we double-cut the grass and we mark out the lines six times to ensure they really stand out and make those lines shine. We'll be working until around 10pm to repair the surface and get it ready for Champions League preparation.
"We really want to push it for The FA Cup Final, it's our showpiece event here, as it is for everyone in the country watching the game." The full interview with Tony is in The FA Cup Final match programme. You can pick up your copy at Wembley Stadium priced at £10, with £1 per copy donated to official FA Charity Partner Action for Children, or alternatively you can buy it from selected Tesco and WHSmith retail and travel outlets and other supermarkets and independent stores.
There will also be a digital version available to buy online from Saturday morning here
.You can also buy the match programme online* here.(*programmes ordered after Monday 9 May are not gauranteed to arrive before the match)