Green Green Grass of Home


In the space of one footballing week I have seen three, maybe four things that should be banned never mind being allowed in the confines of a football ground.

1 Artificial pitches The game against Harrogate was the first time I witnessed 'professional' football played on an artificial surface and despite many people, particularly the Yanks, enthusing and telling us all how much this technology has advanced compared to when I used I play on a similar surface back in the late 80s at the Tilery in Stockton, all I can say it has improved though very, very marginally.

The ball, as in days of yore, moved very quickly on the surface and on several occasions normal passes looked as if they had been over-hit and the ball ran out. The bounce of the ball was not natural at all. You could actually see the Pools players struggling to control or trap the ball ...err, come to think of it, that might be down to their limited ability rather than the playing surface. What was most peculiar, almost laughable was that prior to kick off certain areas of the pitch had sprinklers in use. Prior to the second half Harrogate had them turned on, soaking the area around Pools' penalty box, I guess to make the ball run even quicker. For me artificial surfaces make for artificial football and should all, as a matter of priority, be dug up ...or should I say pulled up!

2 Thermal clothing Despite a heavy police presence the next two offences were committed at Blackwell Meadows on the evening of the Durham Challenge Cup match with Darlo. Granted it was a nippy night but 1883 took to the field of play wearing more warm clothing than some of the spectators had on. Chris Turner once rightly said that no footballer, with the exception of goalkeepers, should be allowed to wear gloves and to my mind, in fairness you can add caps to that ensemble but not of the thermal variety.

There is nothing worse in my mind than seeing a player wearing a short-sleeved football shirt being worn over a long-sleeved base layer top of a different colour. Luke James springs to mind, who sometimes wears a white base layer under his short-sleeved top. When wearing the red away top, from a distance it looks as if he is playing for Arsenal and when wearing the home top he looks like an ice cream salesman. Though, it has to be said, a very quick one.
"artificial surfaces make for artificial football and should all, as a matter of priority, be dug up"
In my view any player who insist on wearing a base layer shirt should wear a long sleeved football shirt over it and with the base layer preferably being a similar colour as the club shirt.

3 Drums Thermals aside, the most annoying thing at the Darlo match was the little drummer boy knocking seven bells out of his percussion. He has been at it for years and would be better suited belting out his instrument of torture on the Crumlin Rd in Belfast with the Orange Order during the marching season rather than performing to the few in the Tin Shed. Although they left it late in the day, I will always be eternally grateful to Messrs Hawkins and Hawkes who brought an abrupt close to his one-man performance with two late strikes of their own which themselves probably deserved ...a roll on the drum!

I had intended to have number four listed but thought better of it.
...Well, seeing as you asked:

4 Women referees I have to say that the home game against Braintree was the first time that I witnessed such a person in action. I did not notice her at all for the first few minutes until one of my mates passed comment along the lines of 'I thought that she was going to her pocket for a yellow but it turned out it was her compact that she brought out'. In the not too distant past, irrespective of her performance and capabilities, a female referee would have drawn derision from many on the terraces just for their own gratification alone. Whilst like many level headed people, think that political correctness has gone right off the Richter scale along with the Me Too, the millennial and snowflake generations, some good has come out of it. Overall It was good to see her get, and earn the respect of the majority of the crowd (and players?) and it has got to be said that she performed a lot better than many of her male counterparts who we have seen at the Vic in recent seasons. I did wonder what sort of reaction she would have drawn if she'd had a bad game herself or made some controversial decisions and how the crowd would have then reacted. In time we will no doubt see.

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