1 No need for switch to summer football despite Bristol Rovers' weather woes

A big freeze always seems to bring those in favour of summer football out of the woodwork.

We have been relatively lucky with mild winters over the last few years which have led to very few postponements. The controversial rained off game at home to Stockport County two years ago really upset the visitors, especially when three days later the pitch was fit enough for our famous Johnstone's Paint Cup win over City.

If we switched to playing in the summer, football would have to compete with other sports like cricket and tennis, while more people like to pursue their own interests in that period from golf to fishing. Summer holidays are another factor that could stop people watching the Gas.

So-called experts have often called for a mid-winter break. But what if football was stopped in January and then the weather was horrendous in February?

Long may football be a winter sport - although games were often cancelled at Eastville Stadium as the River Frome came up to the crossbars before a flood prevention scheme was put in. But the old stadium did stage an epic FA Cup tie in front of 23,000 on a snow-covered pitch, using an orange ball against Ipswich Town in 1978. The Tractor Boys escaped with a 2-2 draw after a legitimate goal from Bobby Gould was ruled out for offside. The Gas lost the replay and Ipswich went on to win the cup.

Mud heaps are fast becoming a thing of the past thanks to much improved drainage, while in years to come I expect all teams will have the sort of undersoil heating which could have saved our game against Yeovil.

The players have never had it so good with the state of pitches today, and they seem to get away with wearing T-shirts, vests, tights and gloves which can do nothing for a hard-man image. Can you imagine Jackie Pitt, Frankie Prince or Tommy Smith taking to the pitch all wrapped up? At the current rate we will soon see players wearing woolly hats and not wanting to head the ball.

In the "good old days" when men were men, we turned out just in v-necked shirts with short sleeves and leather boots to kick a heavy leather ball which I struggled to get off the ground.

Then if we were lucky we would get a tin communal bath with warm water where if you were last in the water was already cold and the colour of the tide coming in at Weston-super-Mare.

But enough of looking back, we must look forward to next Saturday and picking up three points to kick-start our season away at Orient. Sadly it's in Leyton and not the Far East, where frosty pitches will never be a problem.


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Contact Kerry Haywood

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