The world's greatest ground? A photographic centenary celebration of Highbury

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42. Grounds for celebration

There's no harm in asking. Lifelong Arsenal fan Steve Braddock, seen here in November 1997, was a groundsman at the Royal Veterinary College. He spied his chance when George Graham was guest of honour at a trophy presentation, and asked if there was a job going. There was, and he got it. That was 1987, and he's worked for the Gunners ever since.
Although he's gathered many awards for his work, life at Arsenal started worryingly for Steve, as an awful Highbury pitch was blamed for the Gunners' troubles. But a total reconstruction in the summer of 1989 worked wonders - the pitch was never relaid again in Highbury's remaining 17 years. 

Braddock, who recalls a young Andy Cole helping him spread fertiliser and Ray Parlour practising on the morning of his driving test by riding a tractor around the Highbury pitch, later switched to the London Colney training ground to bring that up to Arsene Wenger's exacting standards.