Weather Woe

Dave Saltmanin Editorial

Weather woe

It seems that the weather patterns in the UK are changing towards warmer and wetter winters.

Certainly the last two years have provided milder winter temperatures and unprecedented rainfall. Traditional winters seem to be a distant memory and the seasons merge together unnoticeably.

I personally don't follow the global warming theorists too closely, but there are certainly plenty of gossipmongers willing to talk about imminent doom and gloom. Historically scientists have proven facts showing that there are cycles of weather every few hundred years where continents climate-shift and the likelihood is that these changes tend to be short lived lasting only ten years or so.

The problem of warmer winters though bring inherent problems, the day time February temperatures presently rising to 13 degrees Celsius, with night time temperatures at +7 lulls the grass out of dormancy and into renewed growth. It also seems that we encounter more tropical type storms so that when it rains we receive much larger quantities in a short space of time.

Even with modern day drainage and efficient percolation rates, a heavy bout of rain at the wrong moment can cause games to be postponed. Tottenham a week Saturday ago suffered 22mm or nearly an inch of rain between 11 am and 2pm, just at the crucial time that the referee and the playing staff had to make a decision. Despite the skies clearing and the surface water draining away by kick off at 3pm, the game had been called off. Last season at Watford when the heavens opened at 2:40pm, 15mm of rain fell in fifteen minutes, the pitch became submerged and the game was off, despite the fact that the majority of the supporters were in the stadium. Only last week the match at Birmingham City was abandoned as conditions got the better of the pitch in the heavy and persistent rain.

In the last three weeks, there have been postponements through the football and rugby leagues from the top down, and whole weekends have been lost at amateur level as local authorities have blanket banned games as early as Wednesdays for the weekend.

Despite this the time of year means that the mild and wet weather can turn with the wind and the whole country spent the week after Christmas in sub zero temperatures, again at the expense of the sporting calendar.

At Leicester City the pay per view game against Arsenal on New Years Day, was called off by the match referee in the early afternoon. The pitch was covered with a McLeod cover and there were gas fired heaters keeping the pitch from freezing. However the referee and the Ground staff decided that with kick off at 5pm the pitch stood a good chance once uncovered of freezing and the decision was made to call it off in advance rather than risk the game starting and then being abandoned. Had the game kicked off at 3pm, while there was still daylight the game would have been played without incident.

My thoughts go to the clubs and the Groundsmen who managed to get their games on, but suffered irreparable damage as a consequence. There is no doubt that many games that were played during these wet conditions went a long way to ruining the playing surfaces for the rest of this season for the sake of that one game.

And the question that really begs an answer is why anyone else except the Groundsman, be allowed to make the decision. After all nobody knows the pitch better than the man that regularly looks after it!

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