School planners could maybe pitch in

THIS week’s meeting about the proposed synthetic sports surface for Lerwick raised some interesting points.

It is understandable that the footballing fraternity are not exactly falling over themselves to back the hockey girls in their quest for something they consider vital for the future. Grass remains the preferred surface for football worldwide, and the sport is already well catered for in town with three natural pitches of pretty good quality while a fourth, at Clickimin North, is currently undergoing some kind of makeover which no-one seems clear about.

However, it may be no coincidence, as mentioned by one observer on Wednesday, that football in Whalsay is currently thriving. The availability in the isle of an excellent artificial surface all year round has to be helping the situation there.

Whether or not the footballers do come on board is uncertain, although their help would obviously add greater weight to this proposal.

Whatever happens the hockey association’s mission now appears unstoppable. Players, coaches, parents and supporters are fed up to the back teeth by having to travel to and from Brae, many of them two or three times a week.

They need a pitch in Lerwick and they need it quickly. Someone mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting that this might be so far off that the current players may have hung up their boots by time it happens. Let us hope that is not the case.

Consider this if you will.

This week the council agreed to have a revamped plan for a new Anderson High School on the table by the end of this year.

Just a few months ago the proposal for the school included an artificial pitch, which seemed to disappear off subsequent plans.

Hockey is a growing sport in the isles, however, and it would be ridiculous for the AHS to be continually

busing players up to Brae to play the game.

Surely the eminently sensible way forward is to combine the two plans: a scaled down school on the Knab or wherever, and two artificial pitches at Clickimin South. They would be used by pupils during the day and by club sportsmen and women in the evenings and at weekends.

Surely that is not too complicated a solution for our council to consider. Or is it?

CRICKETER Kevin Pietersen has been the subject of recent debate following his “switch hit” shots against New Zealand, where he changed from right to left-handed during the bowler’s run-up and smashed the ball for six on two occasions.

Some commentators have argued that the tactic gives Pietersen an unfair advantage over the bowler, and should be outlawed.

Nonsense. What Pietersen was doing was extremely risky; he could easily have missed the ball or even dropped his bat and been made to look even more silly. He should obviously be allowed to continue if he is willing to chance it. Cricket needs livening up and sensibly the authorities took the same view.

THE UNCERTAINTY over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United, with the player reportedly craving a move to Real Madrid and the Spanish club prepared to cough up zillions to attract him, is becoming a pain in the backside.

Personally I think if Alex Ferguson can get £60 to £80 million for the Portuguese star, he should grab the money now.

Consider the kind of dish he could serve up with that kind of cash. How about Roque Santa Cruz, potentially the best striker in England and a real top notch guy, for starters, the brilliant Russian Arshavin for the main course and a couple of class defenders thrown in for afters.

BY and large the Euro 2008 has been excellent to watch, with a few surprise results proving that the more established teams can take nothing for granted.

Going by the group stages, you would have thought Croatia, Portugal and Holland would all be a safe bet to make the semi-finals, at the expense of Turkey, Germany and Russia. But the opposite was the case.

The Italians could easily have made it a quartet of upsets, had they shown any desire to attack against Spain, but thankfully the Spanish made it.

By the time this is published we are down the last two, Germany v Spain/Russia, and amazingly yours truly has Germany and Spain in our own office competition.

I also have Miroslav Klose and Fernando Torres down as designated goalscorers, so here’s hoping for a high-scoring Spanish victory with a hat trick for each.

Personally one of the most pleasing things about this competition has been the overall standard of refereeing, with several of the officials not afraid to make what would have previously been considered a brave decision.

At least two penalties have been given for pushing and shirt-pulling in the box, and it is high time that was the norm in all levels of the game.

I find it ridiculous that panellists such as Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer still go on about pulling and pushing, prior to set pieces, being “part and parcel” of the game, and moaning that if referees toughen up on such incidents there could be as many as eight spot kicks per match.

Frankly that is what should happen. It is a foul to pull someone’s shirt. Do it on the halfway line and you will be punished. Do it in the box and you should accept the consequences.

We also saw an incident where the referee booked a player for a foul, which would have led to a red card for a second offence, only to overturn the decision after consulting the linesman. Another instance where sense prevailed, and most welcome in today’s game.

ON the subject of Euro 2008 it seems everybody is picking their team of the tournament. The following is my effort (4-4-2 formation):

Van der Sar (Holland); Zambrotta (Italy), Ramos (Spain), Chiellini (Italy), Lahm (Germany); Modric (Croatia), Deco (Portugal), Ballack (Germany), Sneijder (Holland); Arshavin (Russia), Torres (Spain).

Subs: Casillas (Spain), Corluka (Croatia), Zyryanov (Russia), Schweinsteiger (Germany), Klose (Germany).

Coach: Hiddink (Russia).

THE BEST thing about the current Wimbledon is that we don’t have the commentators banging on about whether or not it could finally be Englishman Tim Henman’s year to lift the trophy. The downside is that we now have commentators banging on about whether Britain’s Andy Murray can do it or not.

ST26 Sporting chance

Several weeks ago it was suggested in this column that some local footballers might be interested in the Swamp Soccer World Championships. Needless to say a few hardy West Siders did take part, including Brian Spence, Lee MacLeod, Iain MacLeod and Duncan Fraser, and apparently they had lots of fun in the mud. We think the photo was taken before the action.


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