First shots of new Griffin Park pitch look good (despite Reading fears)

25 Aug

The pitch is back. Visitors to Brentford on Monday would have seen the contractors hard at work, relaying the grass at Griffin Park ahead of the match with Reading this Saturday. The luxuriant ‘Motz’ surface is already well in place on the New Road wing as all will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the ‘turf malfunction’ that blighted the Ipswich Town and Oxford United games, aswell as forcing the postponement of the fixture with Birmingham City.

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Whilst absolutely essential that this be done, Reading boss Steve Clarke has, reportedly, become the latest to get stuck into the playing surface. Somewhat ironic, given the ease with which it had previously come unstuck. However, local website ‘Get Reading’ have run a feature in which he is already approaching histrionic levels of nervousness and concern.

The story, which you can find here (for those who haven’t already seen it) includes a number of comments which I’m not sure whether are simple sabre rattling and an attempt to unnerve the Bees or genuinely deep-rooted fears.

Clarke is quoted as saying, “we have to play the first match on a pitch that is not going to be ready. It’s not correct.” This immediately begs the question of whether he possesses some hitherto unseen powers of precognition or clairvoyance. How else would he know it isn’t going to be ready? True, it is still looking very sandy but that green stuff we can now see does tend to be a bit of a giveaway.

Warning? Maybe before. It's looking very good now as work commences

Warning? Maybe before. It’s looking very good now as work commences

To be fair, one can sympathise. The layman would probably be of the impression that pitches do require months of ‘bedding in’; of something that can only be achieved over pre-season.

Yet, by his own admission, that simply isn’t the case and, these days, a re-lay prior to a game is not uncommon – however unpalatable he may find it – as he added: “I’m lucky enough to have been involved in some cup finals when they were played at Millennium Stadium. The pitch was always put down two or three days before the game and it was never good.”

Let’s not pretend the pitch was ‘any good’ previously. It wasn’t. Head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and chief executive Mark Devlin have been amongst those leading the criticism whilst even Matthew Benham has noted this, if the ‘retweet’ below is to be taken at face value.

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

I can understand Steve Clarke wanting the best for his players from both a footballing and ‘health and safety’ perspective. Brentford will be in exactly the same boat and, having postponed one game already, will be doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of the problems we’ve previously seen.

Whilst Clarke is looking to get a delegation from the football league and a referee to view the pitch in advance, I’m pretty sure he’ll get his wish at the weekend, if nothing else. Andrew Madley, who is booked in to officiate at the weekend, will be the one who has to make the call as to whether the surface is playable or not during his pre-game inspection. I have no doubt we’ll have already be doing similar once repair works are finished on Wednesday.

Given the well publicised issues we’ve had and the fact that the Football League are fully aware of these, I can’t imagine this one going ahead if there is any element of doubt as to the integrity of the new Motz turf. Equally, one has to trust that the work which has been under way for a week already will be sufficient to provide an environment more fitting to a game of football rather than beach volleyball. If nothing else, I could do without all those cracks about Cardiff beach being cranked out again (well, maybe once more)

After Simon Moore, we've had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

After Simon Moore, we’ve had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

If Steve Clarke wants to publically voice his concerns in a psychological war of words that is likely going to impact his own side more than anybody else, then so be it. Football is a game of such finite margins that if he needs to being an additional element of doubt about his team’s ability to perform on our pitch then that’s fine by me.

I, genuinely, hope his concerns prove unfounded. For both Brentford and Reading. Ultimately, Griffin Park needs a surface that resembles a billiard table rather than a beach.

At the moment we haven’t got that so fairplay to the club for taking such drastic actions to remedy the situation. The eyes of the footballing world will be on us this weekend. Let’s hope we’ve got it right.

The pitch was 'cutting up' in our previous league game at Griffin Park

The pitch was ‘cutting up’ in our previous league game at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

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One Response to “First shots of new Griffin Park pitch look good (despite Reading fears)”

  1. RebelBee August 25, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    Totally opportunistic by Clarke, deflecting pressure from his team’s own shortcomings to date. Marinus and co need to use this to fire up the team, get out there on Saturday and give everyone a big lift.

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