Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Turf wars

Plastic pitches have come a long way since the 1980s. They are no longer plastic. They are "third generation synthetic". And they are back in the spotlight again. And all because the high wage earners that are the England national team played on one against Russia tonight. And that artificial pitch will no doubt be totally culpable for the 2-1 reverse in Moscow.

Anyway, not one to miss an opportunity to jump on the band wagon...

Did you know that FA Cup ties cannot currently be played on artificial pitches? But they can be used for FA Trophy, FA Vase, FA Sunday Cup and FA Youth Cup games.

Did you know that the Euro Qualifier tonight at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will also host the 2008 European Champions League Final? UEFA have however allowed tonight's international to be played on artificial turf but have ruled that the Champions League final must be played on the real thing. Why is that?

Did you know that whilst the media cried foul claiming that Russia had "10 days to train" on the plastic stuff, England were also training on plastic at a school in Altrincham?

And all this talk of the pitch in Moscow made me think of other artificial pitches. Time for another "Top Ten" list. Football clubs who have had, or currently have, artificial pitches installed. In no particular order:

1. Spartak Moscow - Luzhniki Stadium.
You may have read about that one recently...

2. Q.P.R. - Loftus Road
The one I always remember which became a bit of a joke in all honesty...

3. Luton Town - Kenilworth Road
One of the few things that Luton Town are famous for. That and David Pleat's celebrations.

4. Oldham Athletic - Boundary Park
Andy Ritchie, Rick Holden and Richard Jobson. And that pitch.

5. Preston North End - Deepdale
The pitch was ripped up in May 1994, mainly by momento seeking Preston fans after a play-off victory over Torquay that sent them to Wembley.

6. Dunfermline Athletic - East End Park
Their pitch was removed in 2005 after the other Scottish clubs complained. Well, Celtic and Rangers to be precise.

7. Durham - Archibalds Stadium
The Northern League Division One side were not permitted to play this season's home FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round tie on their artificial surface. They met Guisley at Washington's ground instead. And lost 3-1.

8. Woodley Sports - Lambeth Stadium
Likewise, Woodley Sports had to entertain Mossley in this season's FA Cup but not at their own abode but over at Cheadle Town. They drew 1-1 and won the replay on grass 2-1.

The New Saints (TNS) - Park Hall Stadium
Formerly know as Total Network Solutions this club represents Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain in Wales and Oswestrey in England. And they don't use real grass.

10. Feltham - Feltham Sports Arena
The Combined Counties league side may have the oldest plastic pitch in the country? Laid in 1984 and still used. The only reason I mention this one is that I trained on it with Feltham. Once. It almost killed me. The plastic put paid to my England chances.

So England go down 2-1 to Russia and their qualification hopes are now in the hands of Israel and Andorra. All because of a plastic pitch. I'm sure the media will have a field day. And no doubt the F.A. will use the surface as an excuse for the defeat. Relations between the F.A. and UEFA have never been brilliant, so expect more hostilities.

A turf war perhaps?


Barty said...

Hi Sniffer 72, love your blog and a a Preston fan but don't remember the pitch as I was only just born in May 1994. Please could you mention my new blog Sportaholics. It can be viewed at

Thank You!!

Chopper said...

I played at Feltham Arena last season (we lost 5-1 and it could well be my last ever 11-a-side appearance!). The plastic pitch is still there but in a poor state of repair and, along with the equally shambolic "grandstand" and the wreck of an old abandoned car, resembled something from war torn Sarajevo.