Last Saturday marked a triumphant return to Bluetongue for the Mariners. After two losses in a row and still without their Olyroos players, here was tangible proof they are truly an excitement machine who have too much class and depth to relinquish their top spot.
It was a wonderful team performance, topped off by the thrilling skills of Tomas Rogic, yet another unassuming young talent to bring further credit to the club’s talent spotters and absolute magic to the fans. Like the unstoppable genius Ned Zelic, to whom he has already been compared, his name seems tailor-made to be shouted out by commentators ( “Rog-------ic !”) and you can bet we’ll be hearing it hundreds of times in the weeks ahead.
It was also great to see the promising debut of John Sutton, who fitted in to the team well, getting into some great positions and showing the ability to harass the opposition that apparently comes with the Number 19 shirt. Then there was Zwaanswijk, scoring yet again ! The oldest outfield player in the league yet top CCM goal scorer and top of the Alex Tobin Award points. Inspirational stuff !
Given all the on-field excitement, it was therefore an absolute disgrace to see the appalling state of the Bluetongue pitch. It was a credit to both teams they were able to put on such an entertaining performance.
We all know there have been long-term issues with the Bluetongue pitch but last season we were assured by the club this was being addressed. Indeed, the whole surface was replaced at the end of 2010, necessitating a number of home games were played elsewhere. So why on earth is it still the worst pitch in the A-League ?
The stadium is run by Gosford City Council who have apparently scant regard for the needs of their only permanent tenant. While The Mariners have recently been prevented from training on the pitch to “protect it”, the Council was happy to allow three grades of rugby trials to wreck the pitch before Saturday’s A-League game.
The question is : why doesn’t the club do something about it ? Why doesn’t the FFA step in ? If the club has a contract for use of this stadium, then surely there is a legal requirement for the pitch to be kept in a safe and usable state for Mariners’ home games. What else are they paying for ? Uneven surfaces, sand, chunks of turf flying everywhere : surely this presents a serious safety issue for players.
As a Mariners’ fan and member, I find it totally unacceptable to expect professional footballers to play on such a surface. None of us would be expected to work in an unsafe workplace, especially when our employers were paying for the privilege.
I believe the club and Gosford Council owes the supporters an explanation as to why there has still been no resolution to this issue. It’s been going on for as long as I can remember and is an embarrassment both to the club and the Central Coast. One can only imagine the thoughts of the Russian investor seen in the stands on Saturday with Peter Turnbull.
In the next four weeks, this stadium will be hosting two A-League games, the Olyroos match against Iraq and an ACL match against Nagoya Grampus.
Does the FFA really consider the Bluetongue pitch to be acceptable for two international fixtures? Given these matches will be broadcast to millions, what does it say about Australian football and the way we treat professional footballers ?
Then there’s the issue of the upcoming A-League finals, where there is still the suggestion the Mariners may be given what all fans dream about: a home Grand Final.
There’s no doubt this would be a glorious spectacle, with Bluetongue being a beautifully located stadium capable of generating incredible atmosphere spilling out onto the surrounding waterfront. I believe the team, the fans and the community deserve to have this opportunity, should we qualify first.
But there’s no point in fantasising about it when the “field of dreams” is in such a nightmare state. If Gosford Council really wants to bring this huge event to the region they need to take better care of their only professional sporting team.
PS : Congrats to Matty Ryan BUT Josh Rose you were ROBBED ! Absolutely baffling decision. Can only imagine Marvin blocked Holger’s view of the game last week. Beginning to believe Clive’s conspiracy theories about selection...