Martin Dowey’s Column - 3G pitches have their benefits

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WITH the chilly blast of winter descending on the Yorkshire coast this week, it was always going to be a Saturday afternoon off for local footballers.

It made me think,while I was sitting merrily in front of the World Cup of Darts, that I might be a little busier had Scarborough Athletic already taken their place at the proposed sports village at Weaponness.

It has been said that a Third Generation (3G) pitch will be laid on the site, causing mutterings of discontent from a number of people.

This makes a lot of sense to me, because it will be a surface used all year round, and when winter strikes, the snow can just be swept away.

Having starred on a 3G pitch at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium recently, I can definitely vouch for them.

You get a true bounce, you can slide tackle without your leg falling off, it is just so much better than the astroturf of the 1980s and 1990s.

During those times teams like QPR, Preston, Luton and Oldham had the old-fashioned plastic-pitches laid, giving them a distinct advantage over their visiting opponents.

Talking to Mitch Cook about playing on them he said that it was: “Horrible and like playing on concrete.

“If you slid you’d be covered in blood for days.”

Things have developed leaps and bounds since then. Third Generation pitches are coming out of the woodwork all the time.

Maidstone are building the first stadium with a 3G pitch, which will be completed by the summer.

The Luzhniki Stadium, home of Russian side Spartak Moscow, has a synthetic pitch, as both Chelsea and England have found in recent seasons.

England lost 2-1 in 2007 while Chelsea won, so so it is unclear if there’s an advantage.

It is obviously a little chillier up north in Moscow, which is why the Russian League and the Champions League have allowed this move away from the norm.

It does get cold here as well though, as last weekend and the six missing weeks of action last season proved.

So why can’t 3G pitches be a regular thing in lower levels?

The upper echelons of English football are treated to the gift of undersoil heating, but for those who can’t afford that, surely it makes sense to have artificial turf.

It would guarantee that games would be on whatever the weather, all the groundsman would need is a brush or a bucket, if you need a groundsman in the first place.

You also won’t get these horrible mid-March games where two teams are slogging it out in the mud. These fixtures are about as attractive as a skip full of wet fish.

It would also be great for the community.

You could host match after match, night after night without killing the turf off. If you did that on grass then the surface at the end of the week just wouldn’t be pleasant.

Things could get better as well. They are looking at Fourth Generation now, that could be better than real grass.