Parklife: A light-hearted look at the beautiful game

A heavy pitch after a downpour
A heavy pitch after a downpour
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After the exertions of the previous weekend, taking in four games in four days, it was a quieter time this time around.

Games on Saturday and Sunday provided one or two moments of interest, including a brief hailstorm on Sunday. It’s supposed to be Spring after all, and the intrusion was not welcome.

This was particularly so as the game was being played on an artificial pitch, which looked as if it hadn’t been marked out since being installed six seasons ago. Ten minutes of hailstorm resulted in the players rightly being taken off.

They were Under-13s, three of them were actually crying at the stinging pain of the impact, and believe me 13-year-old boys try not to cry in front of anyone, let alone their colleagues in a football team.

Staff at the sports centre appeared and brushed the lines clear once the storm had relented, but the hail had become mixed in with the tiny rubber pellets, so around the edge of the pitch there was a sort of grey mush, which went blacker as the hail melted.

The biggest problem though was that the pitch was full-size.

One little lad brought the ball out of his penalty area, kept going, and reached halfway in what seemed like an eternity.

The way to judge the length of a pitch is to observe the distance from the centre circle to the penalty arc. And this was big – probably FIFA-regulated international size.

After the first half both teams came off shattered, were they enjoying it?

Clearly a huge physical effort was required from the boys, and the weather didn’t help. They did not appear to be relishing their afternoon out.

In the game on Saturda,y one of the players suffered a bad injury, landing awkwardly after a perfectly legal tackle.

The snap of the bone giving way was heard all round the ground, play stopped immediately, it was clear that something was badly amiss.

The requirement for a team to have a first-aider has never been better demonstrated. While one chap rang for an ambulance, the team first-aider sprang into action.

The player was kept warm with one of those foil blankets, and 10 minutes later the paramedics arrived.

They went about their work in a most professional, calm manner, putting everyone at their ease.

This did take some time. Would the game resume? Would it be completed? One player disappeared to his car, returning with a rope. “Ref” he shouted, “Rope him off and we will play round him.”

The game was abandoned.