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I’m preparing a lengthy diatribe on the subject of plastic pitches at the moment (now, something to look forward to), so, in lieu of having much to add on top of my earlier FA Cup preview, here’s a little taste of football on plastic. This match between Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough raises a few interesting questions. Why are Middlesbrough wearing orange shirts without a badge on them? I suspect that I may know the answer to this. In the early 1980s, shirt sponsorship was allowed, but not on matches that were being shown on the television. All clubs had two sets of shirts – one with sponsors names for use most weeks, and one without, for when they were appearing on the television. Occasionally, though, mistakes were made. Watford once turned up for a League match at Aston Villa, only to find that their kit man had packed the wrong set of shirts. They had to play the match with black masking tape stuck over their sponsors’ names and, perhaps unsurprisingly, lost 4-1. I suspect that the same thing might just have happened here, and that Middlesbrough turned up in London with the wrong shirts. This set might have come from a Shepherd’s Bush, or from a dusty cupboard deep within the bowels of Loftus Road. Secondly, how was such a poor surface for both playing and watching football on permitted for so long? The ball bounces around like it’s made of rubber – it’s clear that QPR have an advantage from playing on it all the time.

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