Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Sandbags at Ten Paces!

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Sandbags at Ten Paces!

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

IT'S true that the Stamford Bridge pitch looked like the beach at Walton-on-Naze with the tide out. It's also true that the Chelsea players had trained on it, but the Charlton players hadn't.

This is only relevant if Charlton were refused permission to train on it.

Did they ask to? They've also complained that, because they were unprepared, their players wore the wrong boots. Why didn't they change them?

I have some sympathy for Charlton but to agree to their request to replay the match would create a dangerous precedent. The referee, after all, declared the pitch playable.

What I found bewildering were the after-match quotes from Charlton manager Alan Curbishley in the Sunday papers. "I wouldn't blame the pitch and I know Chelsea are unhappy with it too, but playing on it regularly must be a help to them," he said.

"Looking at their recent results, perhaps they should stick with it."

Perhaps they should. But it's being dug up and replaced by a new one.

Temporarily. In the summer the pitch will be dug up again and replaced by a new resilient turf which will be protected by a state-of-the-art cover.

Let's hope this ensures that there will never be a repeat of last Saturday's surface.

For now we can only marvel at the fact that the Premier League will apparently spend time considering Charlton's request for a replay when there are many more pressing matters to consider. I can only hope that common sense prevails and Chelsea come away with the points - again.

Back in the mists of time they used to play in cobbled lanes, in sheep meadows, in the cloisters at public schools, in ditches and dales, valleys and hills. Even when they coaxed the game into a more manageable playing area the pitch could still resemble a cow field.

I remember from my own modest playing career on Hackney Marshes just two kinds of pitches - winter pitches (with mud) and summer pitches (without mud). …

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