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The Rock-itt : January 2010
Much talk around Manly United about the chance that before the end of the 2010 season the main pitch at Cromer may be a synthetic one. These pitches have come on a long way since Luton Town, QPR, Preston North End and Oldham Athletic tried them out in the English Leagues during the early 1980's. They were referred to in those days as 'plastic pitches' and balls would bounce comically high, severe injuries were common and sliding tackles were a health hazard. However, technology has now improved considerably, Manchester United's Carrington Training ground has a synthetic pitch. England's 2008 Euro Cup qualifying game against the Russians was played on a FIFA approved artificial surface. Sutherland Sharks, synthetic pitch at Seymour Shaw Closer to home current NSW Premier League high flyers, Sutherland Sharks, have played on an artificial pitch at their Seymour Shaw home for the last three years. MWFA President Ray Fanning confirmed that a proposal to install the $1 million pitch had been submitted to Warringah Council and that the plan will greatly benefit the community. Mr. Fanning went on to explain that far from being a 'plastic pitch' the proposed surface would be an eco-friendly coconut husk and cork amalgam that would last at least 10 years and then be recyclable. The current surface is always worn out before the end of the season due to the number of games it has to endure. Its hybrid replacement would be able to cope with up to four times the number of games without any year on year deterioration. A spokesman for Warringah Council confirmed that a motion had been passed to investigate the funding of the job and its benefits to the greater Warringah public. We are still over two months away from the start of Football NSW season which opens for Manly United with an away game against Bankstown on Sunday 28 February but the team has already been in action. Manly's first trial match was at Macquarie against a well honed Sydney FC Youth side. The 'baby' A league side ran out 5-2 victors but none the less it was a good exercise to get Phil Moss' men back into the groove. I went to an evening training session at the Passmore reserve in Manly Vale to take some photographs of the boys wearing the new 2010 Manly strip and to watch them prepare for their next low key run out against Dulwich Hill. This time the venue was the Sydney Sports Centre at Narrabeen and both the Grade 20 side and the First Graders got to play their respective opposition. The pitch at Narrabeen is unfortunately not really conducive to intricate passing and good ball control, indeed captain Joey Schirripa had to helped out of one crack in the pitch with the aid of step ladder (I'm lying of course, but you get the picture!) That day, Sunday 13 December was also stinking hot as well so it was a stern test. Both Manly sides ran out winners, the first grade 4-1 and the 20's 3-0. Phil Moss was still trying out a few players and Christiano an ex Nigerian international certainly caught the eye playing for the First Grade. A week later, actually Saturday 19 December, saw us back at Narrabeen with another preparation game against one of next seasons favourites Bonnyrigg White Eagles. Bonnyrigg have been profligate with the cheque book during the season and quite a few of their expensive imports were on show including Brad Boardman last season's NSW Premier League player of the season who they have enticed over from Sutherland Sharks. A very young 20's side went into the half time break on another scorching day a goal up but the heat got to them in the second half and the Bonnyrigg 20's ended up 3-1 winners. Trainer Richy Williams was very pleased with their performance at this early stage against an experienced Bonnyrigg side and there were some excellent performances. It is sign of the determination of Bonnyrigg to succeed next season that a few score supporters made the long trip over to Narrabeen, the atmosphere was close to a real game vibe. The First Grade game was a very tightly contested affair notable at kick off for who of the Manly regulars were not available. No Scotty Thomas, Brad Groves, Bradley Swancott or Robbie Cattenach who is still Ricky Woodward wearing the new Manly United strip. He had a great game for the First Grade against Bonnyrigg. Mitch Macedo gets his body fat measured (there isn't much!)