IN THE DUGOUT | December 13th | LIGHTNING forked through the sky, hail battered the windows of my office.
By IAIN KING, Head Coach, BSC Lowland League brought to you in association with Sport Careers www.sportcareers.co.uk
LIGHTNING forked through the sky, hail battered the windows of my office.
And I made the call to the coaching staff and the players that BSC Glasgow training on Wednesday night was cancelled.
Hated doing it, we have a squad right now who have won three in a row boosted by new signings and driven by a fierce competition for starting places.
Yet it’s a squad that for me should now be heading into a winter shutdown instead of going through the frustrations of battling to get games on as the elements howl around us.
This debate has raged on for years and I’ve pondered all sides of it as both a journalist and a coach.
To me the answer must be to change the football calendar in this country.
BSC Glasgow are an ambitious club in a forward-thinking league who currently groundshare with Maryhill Juniors at Lochburn Park.
The stadium has excellent floodlights, a decent infrastructure and the potential to be a terrific base.
Yet the pitch has taken a fearful battering since we last played there in the 6-0 SFA Challenge Cup win over South of Scotland League champions Lochar Thistle way back on November 1.
As I write this I fully expect Saturday’s Scottish Sun Plus Lowland League Cup tie with Mickey Lawson’s Whitehill Welfare to be our SIXTH postponement of the season.
Last season I coached at East Kilbride FC who have the luxury of a £1.2million purpose-built facility with a 3G pitch and unless it plunged below -5 you always knew the games and training would be on.
Yet there were days at K Park when we played games in weather that you wouldn’t have thrown the dog out in.
The experience for the fans was awful, the standard of football dictated by the raging gales. So 3G pitches can give us a chance to get the games played but they are not always the answer.
This is not a kneejerk reaction to the unfortunate run BSC are on as we go into enforced cold storage.
I firmly believe we now need a structure in the Scottish game where the kids play March to November and outside of the pros we shut down in December and January.
You will always have arguments about the timing of a winter break but that would be a start.
I am coaching a part-time squad who battle to get to training from their day jobs twice a week and for their games on a Saturday.
They are dedicated, fit and committed. They would improve further as footballers if they played in better conditions on better surfaces. It’s not rocket science to think of an earlier start in August or even the last week in July is it?
It’s 15 years now since I visited the Molde set-up in Norway where Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was bred as a player.
Back then they had an artificial pitch and an indoor stadium for the winter time, this was in 1999.
Contrast that to the abject failure here in the provision of facilities such as the dome at Toryglen where Craig Young and I will take the SYFA Scotland 2001s training session tomorrow night.
Last week’s SFA Convention told you that EIGHT of our Premiership teams now have average gates of less than 5,000.
Yet still we insist on trying to play football in the worst weather God can throw at us and expect the punters to risk life and limb on the roads getting there with Christmas beckoning. It’s nonsense.
In Norway the Tippeligaen finished with Molde as champions last month and they are now in their winter shutdown.
Of the 16 teams there eight play on artificial turf, eight on natural. Whilst high-flying Inverness Caley could only attract 1,326 for the 4-0 Cup hammering of St Mirren the lowest gate in Norway this season?
It was 2,511 for relegated Sogndal v Sarpsborg 08, who are now managed by former Sheffield United striker Brian Deane, back in April.
I’ve been part of working parties pleading for the youth season to be March to November and that STILL isn’t common practice as we insist watching our young players turn blue will make real men or women of them.
I pray that by the time I’m finished coaching we look at similar climates like Norway and Iceland – now ranked NINE places above us in the FIFA rankings with a population of just 325,000 – and concede that maybe just maybe it’s US who’ve got it wrong.