Caged in for spectators.
Poor surface for players.
Layout kills the atmosphere.
Those are three of the main opinions flying around about the 3G pitch at Jersey’s home of football, Springfield Stadium.
Below will show a number of people’s feelings on the situation, with the general opinion being that a grass pitch should be reinstated as soon as possible and the cage taken down from all around the once magical arena.
Following comments from Stevenage star, and Jersey born footballer, Kurtis Guthrie over the weekend, opinions have been voiced on whether Springfield Stadium has lost its sense of achievement, excitement and magic it once had.
On his return Guthrie stated that ‘It is a bit of a shame really because this used to be a special place’ and even went on to say ‘because it’s caged in it doesn’t feel like you are going to play a game of football and it just feels like you’re going to have a kick about and go home’.
Many people have had their say in the comments section of the Facebook post, with many agreeing with Guthrie. Sean McDonald, a former island player has stated:
“I was fortunate enough to play for Jersey in the late 90’s early 00’s as the Island goalkeeper. I was also First Tower United’s first team GK for near enough 10 years. I was lucky enough to play on the new Springfield when the grass pitch was laid. I also played in 2 of the tournaments that were put on by Iain McKenzie against top U21 sides on the grass pitch. I can honestly say it was a privilege to play on it and every opposition we played against praised the quality of it.”
“I am obviously not playing regularly anymore, but have played a few charity games on the new plastic pitch. I can vouch first hand how poor it is, especially for keepers and defenders. You daren’t dive out at peoples feet or attempt any slide tackles for fear of horrendous burns. It needs to be returned to a top notch grasspitch ASAP.”
A number of fans have mentioned the cage around the pitch, resulting in poor viewing quality for those who want to stand rather than sit. One fan I spoke to questioned it by saying:
“I remember the days when it was packed all around Springfield, but now if you want to stand there is a massive barrier restricting your view. It’s terrible and is keeping fans away. You don’t see it at big grounds, so why is it needed here? It needs to go in my opinion so that the atmosphere returns.”
This is the opinion of many fans, both local and those who have travelled in, with some understanding ripping up the 3G pitch would be economically tough, but they question whether, for the supporters, the cage could be taken down on matchdays, and ask why it is down in two areas by the dugout, but nowhere else.
Current Jersey FA, Jersey Bulls and Parishes of Jersey shot stopper Daniel Birrell has also had his say:
“My thoughts on Springfield would be that I don’t rate the facility at all as a home of football for Jersey, I wasn’t lucky enough to play on the grass at Springfield as I was too young and didn’t make finals at u16 but was lucky enough to watch Muratti’s and finals when it was packed to the brim and a proper event.”
“The pitch is difficult to play on in warm conditions and in terms of on the body it’s a lot tougher and less forgiving. I have had countless injuries to my fingers after getting them stuck under the black rubber instead of just sliding along the surface. Can’t imagine what it would be like running round on it for 90 minutes, it must be horrible. Also, the burns you get off it are painful, I have spent a ridiculous amount of cash on skins for them to just get torn up along with my legs diving round in the goal. The money should have been used to rescue a poor facility instead of putting a cage around the best pitch in the Channel Islands.”
This leads to the question, is it going to revert to the so called glory days of grass? I asked the exact same question to Senator Pallet and he replied with this statement:
“The decision to lay a 3G pitch at Springfield was made before I became responsible for sport within Government and was agreed between the Government and the JFA/ FA.
“I am fully supportive of that decision considering the limited use that was made of Springfield when it was in grass. Rather than 50 or so games played a year at Springfield, the current pitch is used all year round for multiple hours every day, allowing far more participation in football at all levels.
“Springfield remains our premier football pitch and there are no plans to convert it back to grass.”
There is your answer. There are absolutely no plans to return the pitch to grass, which for the majority of local football fanatics and players will be disappointing news resulting in a lot of frustration and some anger.
What will happen in the future is yet to be known, however what is in no doubt, players and fans alike of football in Jersey want their grass back and the supporters are keen to get the cage down at the home of Jersey football.
Bulls should enter negotiations with St Peters to renovate the ground and use that pitch for home games. Leave Springfield for training the academies.