AMID all the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, it is reassuring to know that some routines have hardly changed.

“The grass doesn’t stop for coronavirus,” Scott Humphries, groundsman at Oxford United’s training ground says.

This is the start of the third week without players working on the pitches at the club’s headquarters near Horspath.

But while the squad are cooped up, Humphries cannot work from home.

Also read: Oxford United on this day - March 30

Instead, he is isolated in his tractor, trundling up and down the vast expanse of green, keeping it in shape for when the season can restart.

He said: “It’s just about giving the pitches some tender loving care.

“Grass is like a human, it requires food, drink and oxygen.

“People don’t see it like that, but to me it’s my second baby.”

Other than not marking out the pitches, his job has barely changed in the last fortnight.

The lack of wear and tear, coupled with the sudden burst of sunshine, has helped restore the pitches to pristine condition.

But there is a snag to this unscheduled break, which is centred around just how long life will be on hold.

Groundstaff count on the long summer break to give them enough time to undertake essential major pitch renovation works.

But with the current campaign set to be extended, it is likely the gap between seasons will be shorter.

Humphries said: “We all need a holiday now and again because otherwise we burn out – and pitches are no different.

“You would normally rip the surface off and then it’s about six weeks to grow.

“The training pitch is vital, especially with the way our boys want to play.

“The community use the facilities as well and you want them to have a good surface when they’re allowed to come out.

“It’s so frustrating because we can’t plan anything – and it needs to be ready for Championship players next season.”

A lifelong United fan, Humphries has lived the dream since arriving in August 2017.

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Scott Humphries follows Oxford United home and away with his son Harry  Picture: Darrell Fisher

And although he is working separately to the rest of the club at the moment, the connection is still there.

“Derek Fazackerley (first team coach) rang me up the other night, just to see how things were,” he said.

“That’s brilliant and it just makes you feel part of it.

“Faz is a football legend and he’s taken ten minutes out to give me a ring.

“It’s the club I love and you are always going to go the extra mile in that situation.

“It’s brilliant to see it on the Saturday. At 5pm you can say ‘I’ve played a little part in that’.”

In that context, the current situation – surrounded by pitches, but without any football – is torture.

“I can’t wait for football to be back,” he said.

“I just keep thinking about that first game and how much we’ll all be looking forward to it.

“We took a Tuesday night in Rochdale for granted, but everyone will be buzzing to go now.”