Pitz

Who: Lucozade Power League Liverpool (website)

What: Ten outdoor five-a-side pitches with changing rooms, function room and floodlights. Pitch hire, Junior, Student, Business leagues. Up to £32.50 for 50 minute game.

Where: 

2 Whittle Street
Liverpool
L5 2SQ

(see end of article for map)


Lucozade Power League – Still the Pitz?

The ten five-a-side pitches huddled off the side of Scotland Road in North Liverpool. once known as the Pitz, did not have the best reputation in the past. For a reviewer, the name opened up a while range of headline puns and sadly, most would have been accurate.

The Pitz comprised a set of ten large five-a-side pitches with floodlights, a modern clubhouse with changing rooms, reception area and an upstairs function room with a viewing balcony offering excellent views of the matches down below.

So far so good, but the Pitz had a particularly nasty streak.  While the facilities were optimistically upmarket, the Pitz leagues were packed to rafters with teams of thugs, intent on winning ‘ugly’.

This meant threats, kicks and even punches if something displeased the various teams making their way up ‘Scotty Road’ to take part in the poorly organised league competitions.

Referees were intimidated at best and uninterested or downright biased at worst and the result was a series of leagues whose dropout rates from teams scarfed off by the atmosphere meant hilarious mismatches.

When taking part in an under 15s league, a team I turned out for as a 15 year-old several years ago, we were put up against 17 and 18 year olds one week and 12 or 13 year olds the next. Heavy defeats blended into ridiculous victories and slowly the fun was sucked out of football.

So it was with some trepidation when, obviously inspired by the return of Paul Scholes and Thierry Henry, a work colleague invited me down to the Thursday night student league.

Especially, considering a bad-tempered game recently had ended in an assault on the pitch followed by a jail sentence for the offender, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

Still the Pitz?

It’s probably a good time to mention I am a goalkeeper due to a mixture of enjoying throwing myself around and a distinct lack of talent outfield. Luckily, in five-a-side this means you are always in demand.

I had already been to Sports Direct and bought a new pair of gloves but on turning up to the newly christened ‘Lucozade Power League’ I found it was unnecessary.

New branding and ownership has obviously opened their eyes to business opportunities and most wall space not covered by league tables was spent advertising £10 goalkeeper gloves – a nice little earner considering the perennial five-a-side problem of having to nominate an outfield player to go in goal.

This brought with it new problems. League tables covering everything from junior leagues to student divisions adorned the walls; but did this new organisation lead to more commercialism?

I’m happy to say not. The match fee was between £4 and £5 per person (for a seven-man team) but the actual matches themselves had been extended from 30 minutes to a full hour. For a game of football on such impressive facilities that is not a bad price.

The facilities were still in good condition and the spacious changing rooms and lockers are handy for pre-match team talks. There’s also a large car park, mostly in view of the pitches if you are particularly protective of your motor.

The viewing balcony is still there for parents watching their pride and joy and even on a dark, misty night the floodlights lit up the pitches like it was a day match.

The biggest surprise in terms of facilities were the pitches themselves. Having torn several pairs of tracksuit bottoms and plenty of flesh in the past, I was reluctant to head out onto the infamously painful pitches again.

Thankfully, the Power League has moved with the times and installed what it calls ‘fifth-generation pitches’.

It seemed more like 3G to me, with faux grass and small rubber pellets making for a soft and grass-like surface which, apart from being slightly bouncier than grass, was a worthy replica.

After the game, a couple of minor bruises aside, I was relatively unharmed from the pitch, a welcome relief from memories of the Pitz five-a-side.

A different league?

The league felt different as well. Gone were the teams of ‘scallies’ (although I was assured some still appeared) to be replaced by friendly but driven students.

This was, of course, the student league, but it was a pleasure to play against like-minded people and the handshakes – often a controversial subject – were immaculately observed after the game!

The referees are still a little subdued and slow to react, but seemed fair enough. They even added a little extra time on – not a welcome relief as the 19th flew past me.

But that is another story.

The Power League

Overall the Power League is a huge improvement over the Pitz days. A modicum of organisation has seen the facilities start to see commercial opportunities, give feedback on league tables and results and even offer everything from pitch hire to business ‘bonding days’ (Free crate of Carlsberg!).

There are also more serious tournaments and a selection of younger referees who, although sometimes disinterested, let the games flow. Ours even offered both teams the opportunity to play with our own ball.

However, the footballs supplied by the Power League seemed in good enough condition, if a little cheap.

If you are interested in hiring out a pitch, the Power League is a superb facility. If you want to join a league, you’ll still need that hero of five-a-side football, the team organiser.

You’ll also need to navigate a sparse and information-free website, something which should really show more images of the facilities and have clear pricing information throughout.

There may still be unseemly incidents at the Power League in Liverpool, but the bad feeling and aggressiveness of previous years seems to be fading away and even brief conversations in the dressing rooms and around the reception while waiting for my team mates seemed cordial enough.

It may not be the Pitz anymore, but the Power League is all the better for it.

Lucozade Power League Liverpool directions:


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