The evolution of the football pitch

How has the football pitch changed over time? Compost Direct, a compost and lawn dressing specialist has conducted some research about the evolution of the football pitch – from grass based pitches through to 4G technology.

Grass was the beginning

Football began on grass, a style of pitch that the sport still relies on today. Grass is quite delicate and so, intensive usage can leave pitches with much wear and tear. Pitches require plenty of maintenance to keep them match ready, including lots of light and watering. Professional football club’s pitches are usually looked after by specialist groundsmen.

Artificial pitches invented in 1960

Artificial turf has been commonplace since 1960, since David Chaney, head of the RTP research team, invented it.

Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Preston North End were the first to replace their natural grass pitches with artificial turf.

Made from polypropylene or nylon fibre attached to a concrete or asphalt base, this type of pitch had many downsides, including its harshness. This was detrimental to player’s joints. Sliding tackles on the artificial turf increased players chance of friction burn. Players fatigue levels were reported to be higher too.

English professional football banned artificial turf after 1995 and grass counterparts replaced it.

The rise of 3G pitches

The 3G turf pitch became popular in the early 2000s and was designed to mirror real grass, with longer, thinly spaced tufts. This eased the impact on players, as did the sand infills and rubber granules – offering pitches more bounce and support.

3G pitches are great in all weather and so are often favoured by lower league sides and as training pitches.

Technology advances to 4G

Created by growing natural grass around artificial blades, 4G pitches enjoy the benefits of both grass/artificial. 4G pitches are hard-wearing and low-maintenance, plus, they’re soft underfoot for players and cause less impact.