The recent cold snap led to the postponement of plenty of npower League 1 fixtures and got me thinking about the debate about artificial pitches. It's an old chestnut obviously but I'm sure the likes of Wycombe Wanderers, who said in November they were wanted to go artificial in the future, felt the deluge of abandonments gave weight to their argument.
I played a lot of my career on an artificial pitch at Oldham's Boundary Park. It was a state-of-the-art surface for the time and although I would ultimately vote for grass, I'd have to say it did bring benefits.
Of course, there are financial benefits for a club because they are not at the mercy of the weather and games being called off but I also genuinely believe Oldham's artificial pitch made us better players. The surface made good ball control absolutely vital and as a result I think we all worked harder on that aspect of our game.
Those who are against artificial pitches argue they lead to more injuries but I'm not sure that's been conclusively proven. I had a disc taken out of my back at the age of 30 and while the surgeon said playing on an artificial pitch may not have helped my condition, he also couldn't say for certain that it was the cause either.
Then there is the argument artificial pitches give the home side a disproportionate advantage but again, I'm not so sure. For me, the Boundary Park pitch wasn't unfair on visiting teams. True, we were more accustomed to it but I always felt the problem was the negative mindset opposition sides came with before they had even kicked a ball. They expected the pitch to have demons in it and they were on the back foot mentally before the game had even started.
Artificial pitches have also moved on significantly since my playing days, so I can understand clubs like Wycombe looking into the possibilities.
It's FA Cup this weekend and it will be fascinating to see how Stevenage get on against Tottenham at Broadhall Way on Sunday. Their 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night wasn't ideal preparation for the game obviously but they've been strong in the npower League 1 this season and I'm sure Gary Smith will be quietly optimistic.
Promotion will remain the priority for Stevenage but you never know, they could catch Spurs cold at the weekend if Harry Redknapp is tempted to rest some first team players. Stranger things have happened but Stevenage need to make a quick start, get the crowd behind them and set the tone.
What Stevenage have to guard against is the sense of anti-climax if they do lose. There would be no shame in defeat but Gary must ensure his players don't suffer a hangover in the league after the game. The build-up to such a big game with all the media attention that goes with it can be nearly all consuming but once the hype recedes, you have get up to speed in the league as quickly as possible.
An honourable mention this week must go to Alan Knill and Scunthorpe, who beat Rochdale 1-0 at Glanford Park on Tuesday night. It was the Iron's first win at home in the league for three-and-a-half months and it must be a massive relief to finally lay that ghost to rest.
I know Alan well. He's a great lad and a studious manager and I think he's been a bit unlucky since he took the Scunthorpe job last year. It's hard to explain why his side went so long without a home win but he will look to build on the Rochdale result and move on. He's still got plenty of work to do to get out of trouble but beating one of your relegation rivals is a sign of progress. A few more victories at Glanford Park are what are needed because you don't often stay up if you can't win at home.