Wednesday, August 24, 2005

C'mon The Town!

This morning FIFA approved the new pitch in Oriel Park, Dundalk - home, unsurprisingly, to Dundalk Football Club, my hometown club and the football heart-breaker of my life. I'm a Liverpool fan too, as I've pointed out before, but the two experiences are so different that there's no conflict of interest. League of Ireland football is of a much lower standard, is mostly amateur and receives nothing like the exposure of English football and the big European leagues, Irish Gaelic games and even European club egg-chasing. Worse for me Dundalk have fallen from spending virtually 75 years at the upper reaches of Irish football, and competing regularly against some of the biggest club sides in Europe, to second division football today and obscurity even within Irish football - despite winning the 2002 FAI Cup Final (oh what a day!...) and playing Varteks of Croatia in that year's UEFA Cup.

Anyway, League of Ireland football is not known for leading the way in many things (nothing actually) but Dundalk are now unique in European football - they are the first League club in Europe to install the new generation Fieldturf artificial grass playing surface for the purpose of playing competitive matches. Fieldturf is now very common in the States as a replacement for Astroturf American Football pitches. But Astroturf was much maligned in Europe in the '80s as a playing surface for football. However Fifa have been satisfied that this pitch more than matches the "experience" of playing on natural grass.

So the first match to be played is in the third round of the aforementioned FAI Cup against our near and dear neighbours, Drogheda Utd, this Friday night (songs on the night might include Cromwell is our hero). Drogheda have spent heavily in the last copule of years but are not competing in the Premier Division leading to pressure within the club on management and players. They should beat us but you never know in cup football. However they're cribbing about the surface already. Cnuts.

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