LONG serving Accrington Stanley groundsman Martyn Cook is leaving the Wham Stadium after 14 years to transfer to Premier League neighbours Burnley.

Cook, commonly known as 'Buzzer', first joined the Reds in 2007, and has seen the club progress from non-league to League One.

Plenty has changed at the ground in that time, not least the pitch, which until recently Cook has had sole responsibility for.

“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,” explained Cook, whose dad Dennis managed Stanley in the 1980s.

“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 (League Two) play-offs and we seemed to know how to play on it.

“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.”

Cook is now looking forward to his new challenge at Burnley, where he will join the ground staff at the club's Barnfield Training Ground.

“I have spent a major part of my life at Accrington, I have seen people come and go and I will miss it," he said.

“I want a new challenge 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.”