Football in Bracknell
Opinion

Why artificial surfaces are the ONLY way forward for Bracknell Town and local football

I’ve seen a few comments online, not many but one or two about the new artificial surface that is about to arrive at Bracknell Town’s Larges Lane ground over the summer following the clubs redevelopment announcement at the weekend writes Tom Canning.

They broadly exist in the realm of ‘3G surfaces are not suitable for Association Football’ but I almost entirely disagree with that sentiment for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the comment posted by ‘Hellenic Follower’ on the unofficial Hellenic League forum:

Hate these 3G pitches with a vengeance. Ok for training on but not for playing proper association football matches.

Everyone I know hates going to play on Oxford City’s reserves pitch where they are forced onto that horrid surface!

Read more: Bracknell Town are debt free, redevelopment confirmed

Reliabitlity

Bracknell Town's Larges Lane ground.

Bracknell Town’s Larges Lane pitch looks immaculate at the start of the season.

I’ve moaned, you’ve moaned. We’re all had a good bitch about the fixture chaos at the end of this season, and while I do think there are things the Hellenic League could do – as does Duds, the main reason for the fixture backlog was large parts of December to February being washed away by heavy rain on pitches not designed to deal with the deluge.

The knew artificial surface – while still susceptible to the odd freezing, will be far more reliable week in week out and can be used 24/7 by all the clubs teams.

Short of the Football Association granting cash to ALL non-league clubs to install proper drainage, an artificial surface is the only way to ensure games are not called off due to heavy rain.

The other option is that it stops raining so much.

It’s flat

Outside of a football league club, I doubt you’ll see a truer surface. At Bracknell, famed for it’s bobble it’ll be a real opportunity for teams to get the ball down and play.

I’ve played and trained on these new artificial pitches, the one at Easthampstead Park School is a world away from the manky old one that used to exist at Bracknell Sport Centre and it’s an utter dream.

It’s not the same. Granted. But it’s a damn site better than the current pitch at Larges Lane which still struggles despite the painstaking work of everyone at  Bracknell Town, and every volunteer at every other club up and down the county.

Binfield Club Athletic captain Tom Williams scores from the penalty spot. Photo: Neil Graham.

Dust flies during this months Bracknell Sunday League Cup Final between Binfield Club Athletic and Sunningdale & Wentworth. Photo: Neil Graham.

You might just see better football

I went up to see Sutton Coldfield Town in the Southern League last season against Grantham Town. This was on an artificial surface and the game I saw was far faster, more technical and more exciting than anything I’d witnessed at that level before.

The ball did what players expected it to do, players still made tackles, goalkeepers still slid out. It was a good game and I didn’t have ring the club before hand to see if it was on.

Bracknell fans and visiting supporters will get used to seeing a better brand of football in my opinion, what will that do to away form though??

It’s becoming common

Slough Town's Arbour Park ground under construction. Photo: Neil Baker.

Slough Town’s Arbour Park ground under construction. Photo: Neil Baker.

We’ve highlighted recently that Slough Town’s new Arbour Park ground – due to open in time for the 2016/17 season will be an artificial surface while Maidenhead United are expected to install one next summer.

In Germany, there was a huge investment by government and the football authorities in installing artificial surfaces at regional clubs over the last decade and the improvement in facilities that I have seen is second to none.

 

All year round

Football will not stop in the summer

Currently, the pitch closes in May for surface work and seeding, an doesn’t typically open again until the first game of the Hellenic League season.

Next summer, there can be tournaments, five aside leagues and all the pre-season friendlies can be played at home.

Again, no financial black hole.

Upkeep

You don’t need to mow the pitch every week, or mark the lines. Or repair divots or throw sand all over the pitch. It’ll just be ready.

The only issue that may crop up is replacing the pitch at the end of life – which has occured for trail-blazers like Maidstone United far sooner than expected.

Lucrative

Agree or disagree with all those arguments, what is fact is that the artificial surface is the future of Bracknell Town financially. You only have to look at the prices being charged for a third of a pitch at artificial surfaces in the area (around £70 an hour).

Bracknell will be able to have all their junior and senior teams train at the club saving money, while the black hole that is cancelled games in December, January and February (bills still have to be paid don’t forget) will disappear.

Agree or disagree with Tom? Vote in our poll and leave your comments below.


Main image: Larges Lane waterlogged, by Chris Day.

 

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Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football and manages Binfield Ladies team. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror.

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