George Burley pledges his support to natural grass
By Dave Saltman
Here are some of the responses and quotes that Mark received during the lunchtime meeting.
Malcolm Webster (Goalkeeping Coach)-Malcolm was extremely concerned about injuries through constant diving on a synthetic pitch and was at Ipswich with George Burley. He found problems with goalkeepers taking dead ball kicks on the synthetic training pitch as the landing foot was prone to injury.
Terry Westley (Academy Director)-Terry said, "natural grass would always be my preferred choice, the standard of natural grass surfaces in this country are excellent throughout the season and justify their use".
Peter Melville (1st Team Physiotherapist)-Peter is extremely concerned over the health issues regarding the rubber infill, i.e. breathing problems, possible infections from cuts and the increased joint problems from constant pounding and turning on synthetic surfaces.
Ian Taylor (Club Captain)-Ian had the experience of playing on Preston North End's plastic pitch early in his career and says because he was young his body recovered ok. He absolutely hates the idea of synthetic pitches being reintroduced into professional football. He said "the game would suffer as a spectacle due to players not being able to commit themselves through fear of injury and he was horrified when informed of the possible health problems caused by the rubber infill". He continued, "every player should be informed of this".
Mark suggested that footballers should be supplied with t shirts, similar to the 'kick racism out of football' ones, which they warm up in with the slogan " KEEP SYNTHETICS OUT OF FOOTBALL" as part of our campaign and Ian Taylor agreed.
Mark spoke to the Derby County Manager and these are George Burley's comments,
"Given the modern technological advancements which have been made relating to grass pitches, I see no need to use artificial/synthetic surfaces because as a playing surface there is no comparison between them and grass.
When Manager at Ipswich Town Football Club, I and one of the club's Directors went to Barcelona to look at their field-turf pitch, which I believe they play Reserve Team football on, with the view of using the same surface on the training ground at Ipswich Town FC. Following our visit, we installed the surface but soon after it became evident to myself, the players and many others concerned that it was greatly inferior to playing on natural grass.
Also, the effect it had on injuries caused concern. A large majority of players didn't want to play or train on the surface as they felt it increased the risk of injury."
Mark has very kindly started the ball rolling, so now it's up to the rest of you to rally support from your clubs coaching and playing staff. It is clear to us that if the players are given the facts that they could soon be playing on synthetic pitches again, they will support our cause with enthusiastic vigour.
It is very much up to all of you!