Sunday, 3 August 2014

A wonderful victory

The achievement of Maidstone United Football Club in changing the face of non and lower league football should never be underestimated. 

By allowing artificial 3G pitches the Conference have opened the doors to football in the 21st century, which can now be played on even and true surfaces. 

I feel we will look back, as we look back on the pitches of the sixties and seventies, and wonder why it was ever in doubt that 3G surfaces would eventually prevail. 

Although I am not bitter about the song and dance Oliver had to go through, the extraordinary attitude of some of those running football became a symbol of what is wrong with the nation’s favourite game. 

Each time I heard a dissenting opinion about 3G it was obvious that yet another dinosaur of the game hadn't bothered to do any research on the realities and benefits of using an artificial surface. 

I recall meeting with the supporters after another depressing defeat playing at Ashford and being asked whether the surface will never be accepted and beginning to doubt whether this incredibly risky decision to install 3G would explode in our faces. 

Bill never doubted the decision and Oliver, by his efforts, clearly was never going to back down. We were alone and isolated in the football world but we knew we were right this had to be the only way forward. 

What then happened is that the football loving public of Maidstone gave the 3G surface the most overwhelming vote of approval. This was no longer a battle for Bill, Oliver and I – it became a cause for almost two thousand people every week. 

The supporters were clearly telling the rulers of the game, the politicians and the football hierarchy that they should embrace the new way that the game should be played. 

Each time we stood up in front of the supporters and said that we would win the battle one day it was your support that kept us going. We have as a club much to be proud of. 

We should all recognise the efforts of Oliver in achieving this momentous change. His skill and determination has been prodigious and an object lesson in perseverance and bloody mindedness. 

I know he would want to acknowledge the various people who helped, such as Matt Dickinson from The Times and Matt Dunn from the Daily Express who so eloquently made the case for 3G and gave it a national profile, and to Greg Dyke and his colleagues at The FA for showing great leadership on this important issue.

The 2014/2015 campaign is going to be another battle but after this victory we must believe that anything can happen.

Thanks for your support.

Terry Casey