Football has always been, and will always be, a game surrounded by controversy and debate.
Up at the higher levels of the game, that controversy can be something as serious as the Adam Johnson situation and footballers abusing their level of trust and position of power, whilst down at the lower levels – something as strange as the Guiseley goal – sparking debate of right and wrong.
One debate that’s relevant to Mansfield Town fans this week however is that of plastic pitches – following Saturday’s defeat at Newport, on a pitch which swapped sand, for grass.
One argument would be that it was the same for both teams.
Adam Murray certainly didn’t moan about it in his post-match comments, preparing to draw a line under the whole thing and move on to the next – certainly the right attitude to have at this point when you consider how many teams are battling for a play-off space with a declining amount of games.
Even so, in this developing climate of technology, it does beg the question – should teams with poorer pitches be given some help to put in 3G/4G pitches to allow a better game?
In my opinion, in a word? NO.
Quite frankly you can take all that research and opinion about plastic pitches, preventing injuries and postponements and shove it in the biggest dustbin you can find.
Why? Not because I get some kick out of seeing players pick up nasty injuries or crave games falling foul of the weather – but because, if plastic pitches did become a more permanent fixture, then a massive part of the beautiful games heart and soul will have been ripped out.
If every club up and down the land had a smooth, weather beating, injury preventing surface – it would become so repetitive and dull, a bit like going to the same supermarket and purchasing the same items, taking the same route FOREVER!
One of the huge draws of football for me as a supporter, is going to a ground which throws up a different challenge – something like an awfully bobly pitch, one that’s narrow or wide, or perhaps has a slope.
It adds a different dimension to your teams play, gets the best out of certain players, challenges the different styles of play and ability within your side.
It’s true that when you are top of the league and racking up win after win, football is beautiful.
When you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum and getting trounced week in week out, it’s ugly, hurtful and excruciatingly painful to watch.
So yes, on paper if you had a way of being the former, you’d take it – but really what makes a winning side is not about being able to play football with a fluent, beautiful simplistic ease – it’s about pulling together as a team and adapting to the challenges that face you.
Defeat at Newport, on their pitch made of sand, may have dropped us out of the play-offs to ninth – but in reality, would we have won that had the surface been any better? No, because it’s not about what you play the game on, it’s how you play it.
Twelve games remain between now and the season’s end, that’s still a long way to go – but we are in the mix, and involved in a much greater battle than this time last year.
We have a small, but committed squad with an ambitious and passionate manager – let’s take it one game at a time and see where our journey takes us.
Some things about the game are pure wrong, but the more light-hearted things such as back passes going in or sand covered pitches are there forever.
Without them, we’d have nothing to chat about on social media or at the bus stop.
If every team had a plastic pitch and could play slick football, we wouldn’t be able to moan about the miss firing front man or flash harry midfielder who always attempts the over ambitious pass.
To me, taking that away from the game would be like abolishing fish and chip shops – imagine life without a chippy tea!
What I love about the beautiful game is seeing a crunching challenge, a knee slide on mud after a goal and the odd gaffe thanks to an uneven surface – if all we could debate was the bounce of a ball – football would never be the same again.
One final argument against plastic pitches, especially the rubber crumb ones – the tiny bits of rubber get everywhere! I mean, I know some grounds cuisine can be questionable, but the last thing any of us want is to be tucking into our half time pie unsure if we were chewing steak or rubber!
Onto the next one for Murray’s men it is, back to the One Call to face Yeovil – let’s go clacking mad and put three points on the board.