The wonder of local football

7 02 2014

If you ever want to know what’s going on in north Walean football read Dave Jones’ excellent blog; North Wales Football. Dave’s blog featured an interesting post last Friday;

“TOMORROW’S FAW Trophy fifth round tie between Ruthin Town and Llanrug United will now be played at Coleg Llandrillo’s 3G pitch in Rhos-on-Sea (kick-off 1.45pm).

Two previous attempts to play the match at Llanrug fell foul of the weather, so as per competition rules home advantage switched to Ruthin for this Saturday.

However, the Ruthin pitch is also unfit, so to ensure the outstanding tie is completed, the club has been given permission by the FAW to play the game at Llandrillo.”

This story reeks of semi-pro football charm; archetypal weather ravaged pitches, ad hoc agreements to play on municipal 3G pitches, rules that state home advantage is lost after two postponements, a governing body doing the decent thing to get things sorted, although this is the exception rather than the norm.

Semi-pro football is often forced in to ad hoc measures as weather ravaged pitches are a fact of life; Carmarthen have had to play home matches in three different grounds this season (Carmarthen, Llanelli and Port Talbot) because of their wet pitch, Bangor and Airbus agreed to switch Tuesday’s Welsh Cup tie because of Airbus’ pitch problems and this season’s FA Trophy tie between FC United and Witton Albion became such a saga – two replays and three postponements – that Radclfiffe Borough’s ground was needed at one point.

It may be my jaundiced mind but ad hoc measures lend a nice feeling of comradeship to semi-pro football, for example when FC United home matches aren’t able to use Gigg Lane they sometimes use Stalybridge Celtic’s ground.

Try imagining that this kind of attitude exists in the gilded prison of elite football. Go on, try to imagine that Man City and West Brom agreed to play an FA Cup match in a leisure centre because of bleak winter weather. That situation is an impossible dream.

You just know that kind of thing would never happen in the gilded elite of world football, and it’s not just because premier league club pitches have teams of people dedicated to their upkeep. The premier league’s mindset is as far from “charming ad hoc” as it’s possible to get. The franchises and the CEO of the premier league just couldn’t lower themselves to ad hoc arrangements.

Elite football washed off the last faint traces of mucking in and making do when it disappeared up its own arse about 20 years ago, there’s something profoundly sad about that.

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