He may have been short in stature, but former head groundsman Stan Gibson’s impact on Manchester City looms large and proud.

For close on four decades, Stan – whose semi-detached house adjoined City’s old souvenir shop - lovingly tended to the pitch at Maine Road, always taking a huge professional pride in his work.

Despite often having to operate through the worst of the Manchester weather, the fabled head groundsman constantly sought to produce pitches that were the envy of his peers despite the old-fashioned technology that were the tools of the trade back then.

Over the course of his long career, Stan also became something of a guru, and was only too keen to pass on advice and the benefit of his huge professional expertise to up and coming groundsmen – not just working in football but other sports too.

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Stan always took great pleasure in tending and guarding his pride and joy, though he would allow the players a light workout on a Friday afternoon!

Legend also has it that Stan would also regularly take his Alsatian dog for a late-night wander around Maine Road... just for a last check.

Through good times and bad – from the magical heyday of the Mercer/Allison glory years of the late 1960s through to the traumas of relegation - Stan provided a reassuring permanent presence at Maine Road right up until his retirement in the late 1990s.

Sadly, Stan passed away in December 2001 but his enormous contribution and lifelong legacy is still felt to this day.

So much so that, in honour of Stan’s enduring impact, the Club decided to mark his sterling service and impact in permanent fashion at the site of our former Maine Road home.

A memorial plaque bearing Stan’s name stands where the Maine Road centre circle used to sit as part of  ‘Gibson’s Green’, a plot of green situated in the middle of the new housing development that has sprung up at the site of our old stamping ground.

It was unveiled by club legends Mike Summerbee and Tony Book at a special ceremony held in the summer of 2014, to honour Stan and his four decades of his loyal service.

And as City legend and Club ambassador Summerbee reveals, Stan’s impact at the Club was felt far beyond his sterling work in keeping the Maine Road playing surface in tip-top condition.

“When I came to City from Swindon, it wasn’t just because of Joe Mercer - it was also because of Stan,” Buzzer recalled.

“What he said to me about the club, the stadium and what it meant when I played at Maine Road for Swindon really had a big effect on me.

“So, Stan was very influential in me signing for the Club. 

“Stan would also have been such a proud man to see the plaque with his name in Gibson’s Green where Maine Road stood

“We feel the same as he was close to us. He wasn’t just a groundsman, he was a friend.”

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Another former Blues’ great, Peter Barnes, echoed Buzzer’s words, emphasising the close bond Stan went on to forge with generations of City players.

‘’If there has ever been a better groundsman than Stan then I do not know of his existence,’’ said the former England winger.

‘’It was an absolute privilege to play on a pitch prepared by Stan. He was the undoubted master. He was one of the nicest men you could wish to meet. He kept the pitch the best in the country and was a wonderful, warm person.

‘’The great thing about him, apart from the fact that he was the best at his job, was that he was also one of the lads.

‘’In my day we used to train on the pitch a lot more than they do these days and he would always be there wielding a pitchfork and having a go at us if we were making a mess of his beloved surface.’’

Another former City icon, Gary Owen, was also in no doubt as to the vitally important role Gibson played at the Club.

‘’Stan was much more than a member of the staff at the football club, he formed part of its heartbeat,’’ Owen recalled.

‘’He was not just a groundsman; he was a personal friend of many of the players and what is more he was the best at what he did.”

Grounds for approval in anyone’s book surely!