Got 99 Problems and the Pitch is One

I’ve every confidence in Andy Morrell’s men being able to get us back into the Football League this season, but small factors can turn out to be significant when you’re pursuing a league title, and I hope the state of the Racecourse pitch doesn’t turn out to be crucial.

It doesn’t look good, does it? Bobbly and heavy, it isn’t conducive to passing football and must take a real toll on the players’ legs. While we undoubtedly have a side capable of mixing play up, and can therefore cope with an unhelpful pitch by going long, we’re by no means set up to be a long ball team, particularly with Danny Wright out injured. Furthermore, a pitch which doesn’t help you to move the ball around clearly helps a side digging in and defending. It assists a team that’s parking the bus enormously if their opponents can’t move the ball around quickly and are unable to put together fluent moves because they’re battling to keep the ball under control.

Despite the fact that we’ve had a mild winter (I’ve had to scrape my windscreen seven times so far, fact fans!) the pitch looks and plays very rough. And last week, the rugby season started.

I’m not going to pretend to be a rugby fan – in fact, I’ve absolutely to affinity to it at all. However, some people whose opinions I respect actually consider it to be a real sport, and I feel I have to show some consideration for their feelings! However, when rugger apologists tell me that the game doesn’t affect the Racecourse pitch, I struggle with their logic. Never mind the fact that football clubs who share their pitch with rugby consistently have poor playing conditions; surely any significant amount of extra use is going to add to the turf’s wear and tear? But Glyndwr, in purchasing the ground to be the centre-piece of their sports science set-up, and to run it as a community asset, are therefore surely committed to it being in regular use.

Please don’t interpret this as criticism of the groundstaff. They do a fine job at the Racecourse on a limited budget. In a way, what exercises my mind the most is just what resources they’ll be allocated to carry out their duties in future. The goalposts have shifted. Glyndwr are responsible for the pitch now, and it’ll be interesting to see which way they go.

On the one hand, they must be aware that they have a public responsibility to ensure the upkeep of the oldest international stadium in the world. To fail to commit funds into any area of it could generate negative PR, which is the last thing a thrusting new university, keen to show that its investment was a smart move and not an error in the face of pressure to merge under the University of Wales umbrella.

On the other, they have no direct stake in the state of the pitch. If Wrexham fail to flourish because of the playing surface, it’s not really their problem.

In setting up shirt sponsorship in lieu of rent, and other less publicised areas, Glyndwr have shown themselves to be benevolent landlords. Let’s hope their largesse will extend further, to a swift commitment to improving the state of the surface.

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