Rangers have travelled to artificial surfaces twice this season. Away to Kilmarnock in the cup where we lost Jamie Murphy, and away to Livi where we lost our composure.
It goes without saying these kinds of surfaces have been a bane of Rangers’ travels this campaign, whether it’s losing our players or our game, and with tomorrow’s journey over to New Douglas Park uppermost on everyone’s agenda, not only is there attention on the aching need to arrest the away days slump blighting our season, but on the concerns about fitness and injuries as provoked by this unforgiving terrain too.
Steven Gerrard himself has already protested these pitches, and following the Jamie Murphy incident against Clarke’s side, we can see why.
And we won’t use it as an entire excuse to the atrocity v Gary Holt’s lot, but it was no innocent bystander either.
Defender Nikola Katic has been vocal in condemning 3G pitches in the past, citing his height as why the material is so bad for his physique, and making his selection tomorrow extremely unlikely regardless of his fitness.
But the reality is Jamie Murphy lost a potential year of his career thanks to the way the pitch grabbed his leg, the manner of which wouldn’t happen on grass, and that was followed up by a horrific performance on Livi’s own version of this demon ground.
Admittedly, Rangers’ players failed to show up that day – but one can’t help wonder if half the reason for that was the trepidation over that awful turf having seen what happened to Murphy. It’s no real excuse – you should always give 100% even if you fear injury because you’re paid to do exactly that.
But it weighs on the mind, and we are more than a touch aware that Hamilton hold an advantage as such tomorrow.
The old ‘both teams are on the same surface, even playing field’ excuse gets used a lot – true, they are, but one of those teams is on that surface half of the entire season; they are a hell of a lot more accustomed to it!
In short, that reason doesn’t wash. We already polled our readers – and the overwhelming response was to outlaw 3G. Of course it won’t happen, and as a result our players are going to have to put up with this cheap, nasty amateur surface which is simply not befitting professional footballers.
We just pray, somehow, that our players don’t get hurt and the psychological impact of the surface is minimised enough to allow our players to deliver properly.
But especially that we don’t lose anyone else.