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ARABS UNDER ATTACK Bugs are pain in the grass for United.

Byline: By Euan McArthur ..HDLN: Football: Albert the Tannadice groundsman stars in... DADDY LONGLEGS ATE MY PITCH

QUESTION 1: Whats got six legs and no teeth? Answer: Three mammies at a Daniel O'Donnell concert.

QUESTION 2: What's got six legs but can eat a football pitch? Answer: A daddy longlegs.

Different questions, different answers but spot the similarity - daddy longlegs have little apparent purpose and are hard to get rid of, just like Daniel O'Donnell.

Groundsman Albert Dawson wishes he could switch off the horror movie he's been plunged into at Tannadice.

An army of daddy longlegs have marched on Dundee United's ground and laid millions of eggs under the pitch.

Now the sons of daddy are hatching and munching through the roots, leaving chunks of the playing surface grassless.

Craig Levein's men swear the damage is making it tough for them to play flowing football and several visiting managers have commented on the state of the park. But the intrepid Dawson, who scooped the Groundsman of the Year award in 2004, has vowed to drive the creepy crawlies into the Tay if he has to.

He said: "A swarm of daddy longlegs laid their eggs on the pitch during the late summer. They have started to hatch now and the grubs have eaten away at the roots.

"There is hardly anything holding it together right now and that's why it has been coming away from under the players' feet.

"I noticed the problem in September and sprayed the pitch with insecticide but some of them have survived.

"We've sprayed it another couple of times and there is another treatment to come, so hopefully that will get rid of the problem. When the grass starts to grow again it will get better and hopefully by the end of the season you'll never notice that it's happened - that's the aim."

Three years ago Aberdeen's pitch was being eaten away.The temptation to blame sheep was overwhelming but, just as at Tannadice, daddy longlegs took the rap.

The Dons were forced to replace the entire Pittodrie playing surface but Dawson doesn't know if United will shell out for a total revamp. He said: "I recall the same thing happened at Aberdeen and they got a new pitch out of it. But I don't know if that will happen here."

Meanwhile, United have agreed contract extensions with up-and-coming youngsters David Robertson and Keith Watson.

Robertson has been blossoming since Levein took over in November and has become an integral part of the side, while Watson made an impressive debut against St Mirren in the Scottish Cup.

The 17-year-old is already rated as a top player for the future as United continue their tradition of producing some of the best young talent in the country.

Both Robertson and Watson have now committed themselves long-term to the club and a formal announcement will be made today.

CAPTION(S):

STOP BUGGING US: United's pitch has been taken over by insects; TOP KID: Robertson
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 14, 2007
Words:497
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