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FOOTBALL


The LA Galaxy pitch marked out for football Don’t become a


groundskeeper! It’s not so much a job, more of an affliction! The days are long, the work is hard, but honestly, my ethos has always been ‘find something you love to do, and you’ll be just fine’





much in its infancy and I’d grown up following the NFL from a kid” “In truth, even now, watching soccer for me is all about observing how the ball rolls, what cuts up, that kind of thing. But I would say that the standard of play in the MLS is getting better every year and I think we are doing a great job of shaking off the ‘retirement home’ label” This is a key point. Ten years ago, the game needed ‘stars’ in order to gain a foothold on the sporting landscape - especially in a BIG country with lots of sports competing for an audience. Today, it feels like the hard work creating interest and demand has been done. Attendances continue to grow, and they are now seeing talented homegrown players moving through the ranks. The fact that these players are now given the very best ‘real grass’ surfaces on which to compete, would suggest that the British portrait of the MLS is years out of date.


Having discussed various demanding aspects of life at the Galaxy, I’m intrigued to know what is the biggest challenge of all for Shaun and his crew? “I’d say it’s the MLS season as a whole, especially when, as a multi-use facility, we


get concerts scheduled mid-season.” I pause to consider what I’ve just heard, then repeat the words back to him. “Concerts? Mid season?” “Yes!” he laughs. “It’s not ideal, but it’s something we’ve adapted to. Mind you, the Coldplay gig was a real stamina test!” The Coldplay gig, to which he refers, was a full-on stadium show on July 18th 2009. Two days later on July 20th 2009, the Galaxy hosted Millan in an International friendly. “That was a hell of a shift” he shudders.


As we come towards the end of the interview, I ask Shaun, if he could meet his sixteen year old self, what single piece of advice would he give? “Don’t become a groundskeeper!” he laughs. “It’s not so much a job, more of an affliction! The days are long, the work is hard, but honestly, my ethos has always been ‘find something you love to do, and you’ll be just fine’.”


As we say our goodbyes and pause for a few souvenir photos, I very much get the impression that Shaun is a square peg in a square hole - a Southern Californian boy who has found his calling in life and goes about his high-pressured work in a convivial, unflappable way.


As the song goes; ‘it never rains in California’ 54 PC April/May 2019


The stadium pitch he presides over has to withstand the full gamut of multi-use – soccer, gridiron, concerts – and often all around the same time of the year. In order to cope with that, he genuinely needs to believe his own ethos – or to broaden things slightly, the sapience of another revered American, Mark Twain, which goes: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And, regardless of whether you are a soccer player, a groundskeeper or just a writer that gets excited about visiting stadiums, who could possibly argue with wisdom like that?


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