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Footballers kick heels in frustration

PUBLISHED: 11:12 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:23 06 July 2010

Legions of amateur footballers will be kicking their heels this weekend after matches on council pitches in Norwich and Yarmouth were postponed because of the prolonged dry weather.

Legions of amateur footballers will be kicking their heels this weekend after matches on council pitches in Norwich and Yarmouth were postponed because of the prolonged dry weather.

Weeks of drought-like conditions have led to bone-hard surfaces, heightening fears that players are being exposed to unacceptable injury risks. There are also concerns about damage to the playing surfaces.

Norwich City Council announced its decision to halt play yesterday, days after Yarmouth Borough Council had made a similar decision. Both councils say the decision will be viewed on a week-by-week basis.

Yarmouth and District Saturday League games have been hit while the Aston Berry Yarmouth Sunday League has made the decision to suspend its entire programme on all pitches.

Tomorrow's Ridgeons League Reserve match between Yarmouth Town Reserves and Walsham-le-Willows at the council's Wellesley ground has also been hit.

GYB services assistant ground and leisure manager Paul Kelf said: “There has been just 11mm of rain since July, which is exceptionally low. The position will be reviewed each week, but we need the weather to change.

“There is little grass coverage. If the pitches keep getting played on in this dry dusty condition, then when it does rain it will turn into bogs.”

In Norwich, scheduled games at Britannia Barracks, Eaton Park, Sloughbottom Park and Mousehold will be affected. Two of the leagues involved are the Norwich Business Houses and the Evening News Norwich Sunday League.

A Norwich City Council spokeswoman said: “We are monitoring the situation and will keep people informed.”

Waveney District Council said last night it was speaking to league secretaries to see if there were any concerns over player safety, while Breckland Council said any decision to postpone games was up to the groups which hired its grounds.

North Norfolk District Council does not own any football pitches and South Norfolk Council said no pitches would be closing.

West Norfolk Council's football pitches will be open but the authority is monitoring the situation and will give teams reasonable notice if the situation changes.

Individual referees have the power to call games off if they deem pitches to be unsafe.

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