Great Stadium, Awful Pitch

Here’s a true story. I was once playing in a match when I went up to challenge for a header. During the challenge (which I won by the way) I was knocked over and landed in a pile of dog poo!
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I also heard about a guy who went into a sliding tackle only to slice his leg open on a broken bottle. I’ve played on pitches where you could have doubled up and used them for water polo. Pitches where the grass is so long a lost civilisation could have been living there.
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You expect to see crappy pitches at school and amateur level. It’s something to have a laugh about after the game. Where it is inexcusable to see it is at Wembley, like we saw in this weekends FA Cup semi-finals.
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Wembley was finally opened in 2007 after years of delays (typical of Britain, expect the Olympic stadium to be finished sometime in 2013!) and came in way over budget at a cost between £750-800m.
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It has to be said though it is a fantastic stadium. A wonderful venue, that England can be proud of, which has one huge flaw. The pitch.
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The first game I remember watching at the new Wembley on TV was the League One playoff final between Blackpool and Yeovil Town. The pitch cut up terribly. The FA Cup final that year saw the pitch cut up badly too.
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The initial reasons seemed fair enough. The pitch was laid rather than grown so it hadn’t bedded in properly. Also, the stadium layout, where every seat is under cover, means there is less natural light getting to the pitch.
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In the England v Croatia game in 2007 the pitch was a total quagmire. Wembley does not have a fully retractable roof and rain affects the pitch more because of the pitch being laid, apparently this means it retains more moisture than a grown pitch.
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The pitch spoilt the FA Cup semi-finals. Players were falling or slipping regularly and this diminished the spectacle.
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Alex Ferguson described the pitch as “Spongy and dead” meaning that it was harder to pass but I also thought as well the ball was bobbling every time it rolled which suggests the surface underneath is not flat. This meant that passes had to be hit harder, meaning they were more difficult to control, which in turn meant the game could not flow too well. Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello have been critical of the pitch too.
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Some people blame the fact that to pay for Wembley, other sports and concerts are using and ruining the pitch, but that is plain wrong. Wembley used to be used for concerts regularly. Rugby used to be played there and they could still produce a good pitch.
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The pitch is due for a complete re-lay, it’s sixth, in late May. I hope they finally sort this issue out as at the moment we have a wonderful stadium where the most important part is useless.