The Alternative with David Marshall - 26/8/18

European wins, plastic pitches, big signings and ruined birthday parties; just another week being a Rangers fan.

Pitch and Moan

Last Sunday’s fine win and performance over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park was somewhat dulled by the injury of Jamie Murphy. It has since been confirmed that Murphy has suffered an ACL injury and has no immediate return schedule and will likely be out for the entirety of the season.

This is the second time in two and half years where we have had a player injured, and his injury further aggravated due to the pitch at Rugby Park. Martyn Waghorn’s season was pretty much ended and ruined in February 2016 when he injured his knee during a Scottish Cup tie. Waghorn never really got going again after this injury and never really got back to form until he left the club and moved to Ipswich.
It’s not melodramatic to suggest that Murphy will be very lucky to come back anywhere near the same player again especially as he heads towards his 30s. There has been much talk about the place of plastic or artificial pitches in the top flight and let me just unanimously state that I believe they have no place in top flight football.

There are a few defences of artificial pitches that have been trotted out this week, my favourite being: “These players grew up on these pitches so they are used to them”. I am of a generation of 20/30 year olds who grew up playing on the first generation of artificial pitches and pitches that doubled up as field hockey pitches that were essentially carpets covered in sand. I am also of the same generation who now have either knackered ankles or knees because of spending years playing on these pitches. They are not nice, they are not natural to run, jump or land on and they fuck you up given enough time to do so.

Argument No.2, “They’re cheaper than grass”. This is an easy one to respond to, tough. If you can’t afford to maintain a grass pitch then you simply have no place in a top flight league. Same response to anyone that uses the community club argument too. You’re a professional team first and foremost and that’s your priority.
Final argument, “You could get the same injury on a grass pitch”. Absolutely, you could! Shit happens and so can injury at anytime if you’re unlucky enough.

However, the chances of the type of injury that Murphy endured are significantly higher when games are played on a plastic pitch. This was proven in academic study over 12 years in America which showed that when artificial pitches started becoming the norm the number of injuries increased.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544152/

Artificial pitches are fine for amateur or recreational football but they should have no place at the very top of our game in Scotland. I can even understand an argument for them in lower leagues but that’s as far as they should go and should only be used as a very last resort.

It is utterly baffling to me that in a league where less than 20 years ago we were denying teams entry for not having 10,000 seater stadiums and under soil heating, we are now allowing teams to play on pitches that are of the same, or even worse, standard that you can find at your local sports centre.

David Marshall (@marshalldave38)

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