TOMORROW’S Forest Pitch games have been postponed for a month because of the waterlogged grass surface.
The £460,000 Cultural Olympiad arts project, in Buccleuch Estate woodland along the A699 road to St Boswells, will now take place on Saturday, August 25, after Borders referee Frank Campbell deemed the pitch too wet at Wednesday lunchtime inspection.
The two games, involving men’s and women’s sides made up of Scottish residents who have recently moved to the country, are the only matches to be played on the pitch.
Councillor Vicky Davidson said: “I am disappointed for them. I was due to go along with my friends and family.
“There has been a lot of effort gone into this with busloads of people coming down from Edinburgh and Glasgow.”
The man behind the pitch, Craig Coulthard, was inspired by a flight over dense Borders forests, and his idea to build a pitch in the woods was commissioned in October 2009.
The grass surface, along with changing rooms and seating for 1,000 spectators, took two years to complete.
The late call-off is a huge blow to the grandson of Jim Coulthard, Shoemaker Standard Bearer in 1952.
Craig told The Wee Paper: “It is very disappointing, but I’m optimistic it will be a more enjoyable experience for the players and spectators by playing it on a different date.
“At the moment, the pitch is potentially dangerous for the players.
“It has been nearly three years since Forest Pitch was commissioned, but in the whole scheme of things it wouldn’t have been a good idea to try and go ahead with the matches in the current conditions.
“The guys who look after the pitch have done everything they can, but like other sports fields in the local area it has suffered from the bad weather.
“I am grateful to everyone locally and nationally who have helped the project so far.”
Forest Pitch has previously been criticised for its cost by members of the public, football coaches and Selkirk Community Council vice-chairman Dr Lindsay Neil.
And Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne reiterated the view that the six-figure sum could have gone towards more worthwhile projects.
She added: “As a spokesperson for children’s services, I personally would have preferred the money to be used for helping kids on an ongoing basis.
“While I am not against art projects, I think they should have some value.
“I am pragmatic person and feel this will have little ongoing benefits.”
Mr Coulthard has previously told The Wee Paper that the National Lottery funding had been already been set aside when Forest Pitch was commissioned.
Forest Pitch organisers say any tickets bought to watch the games are still valid on August 25.