Hull City groundsmen Darrell Cook and Mark Harrison to take club to court for wrongful dismissal after being sacked ‘over state of KCOM pitch’

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To Hull and back

Pair set up crowdfunding page to pay legal fees as they claim they were axed even though pitch looked like a ‘bowling green’

TWO Hull City groundsmen are taking the club to court claiming they were sacked over the state of the KCOM pitch.

Darrell Cook and Mark Harrison say they were dismissed last month after claims the playing field had been deteriorating – even though it looked like a “bowling green”.

SWNS:South West News Service

Darrell Cook and Mark Harrison are taking KCOM stadium management company to employment tribunal

Both insist they were axed unfairly and have set up a crowdfunding page, ‘Pitch for Justice’, to help take their bosses to an employment tribunal.


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The pair – who claim they are not looking for compensation and only want their jobs back – hope to raise £5,000 in order to pay their legal fees.

In a joint statement, the two men said: “We don’t want the inevitable attention this may bring but we had no other option if we were to fight for the jobs we love and to clear our names.

“This is not just for us but for our wives, parents and children. We’re proud men who have always taken immense pride in our work.

Darrell Cook

SWNS:South West News Service

Darrell Cook has set up crowdfunding page to help pay for pair’s legal fees

Mark Harrison

SWNS:South West News Service

Mark Harrison says he was fired for ordering too much grass treatment product

Crowdfunding Hull

Pair hope to make £5,000 with crowdfunding page

“We wouldn’t normally be able to afford a legal challenge like this against such formidable opposition. There is no access to legal aid and we didn’t earn big salaries so we hope the people at SMC understand why we had no choice but to take this route.

“We look forward to the day we can hold our heads high again and get back to work providing both Hull City and Hull FC with a playing surface both clubs and their fans can be proud of.

The statement adds: “We want to hold them to account through the proper process where an employment tribunal judge looks at everything fully and fairly.

“We want to clear our names. We actually want to get our jobs back and a tribunal can order that.

“We were proud to be involved with Hull City and Hull FC – we just want to get back to work and continue that association for many years to come.”

KCOM Stadium

Getty Images

Pair insist the pitch at the KCOM is like a ‘bowling green’

Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison has worked at Hull since 1988 but was axed last month

Mark Harrison

Harrison has previously won awards for the pitch at Hull

Cook, 55, also claims he was sacked for working as a kit man for rugby league side Hull FC while Harrison – who has worked at the club since 1988 – insists he was told he was fired for ordering too much grass treatment product.

The pair also allege the Stadium Management Company (SMC) objected to their use of casual workers to repair divots after games, in return for match tickets.

The volunteers are also understood to have been forced to leave the stadium after the Tigers’ loss to Sunderland earlier this month.

And Cook, who says he has worked at the recently relegated club for 27 years, insists he and Harrison were given no warning prior to their shock dismissal.

Hull are relegated from the Premier League after losing to Crystal Palace

Hull were relegated at the hands of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park

Reuters

Hull were relegated from the Premier League after loss to Crystal Palace this month

Hull managed to lose at home to already-relegated Sunderland on Saturday

Rex Features

Hull lost to already-relegated Sunderland at KCOM as survival bid flopped

Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, he said: “I was told we were being investigated over the deterioration of the pitch. But I couldn’t understand this as it resembled a bowling green.

“They also said they were looking into the work I was undertaking with Hull FC as a kit man. But this was something I did in my own time and didn’t affect my work.

“This is a job I have done for 27 years and there was no indication anything like this was coming.

“Both myself and Mark have worked for the SMC for 16 years. We have never been in any trouble or had any reprimand so this came out of the blue.

“It has turned our lives upside down. Ever since I was 15 years old I have been in full-time employment. This is all alien to me.”

An SMC spokesman said: “After seeking legal counsel the club have been advised not to comment on this matter due to its ongoing nature and potential for a further appeal.”



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