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New date announced for Forest Pitch kick-off

Published: 14 Aug 2012 09:300 comments

IT has been billed as one of the country's most dramatic contributions to the Olympics.

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But plans to spend almost half a million pounds felling trees to create a full-size football pitch in the middle of a forest in the Borders have been dogged by controversy since day one.

Dr Lindsay Neil, vice-chairman of the Royal Burgh of Selkirk Community Council, described the Forest Pitch project - which has been built on land owned by Buccleuch Estates near Midlem - as a "ridiculous waste of money".

And then the two matches due to be played on the pitch last month were rained off.

Now, it has been announced, they have been rearranged for Saturday, August 25 - which clashes with the fixtures of local teams competing in the Scottish Cup.

A source told the Border Telegraph: "You have to wonder whether anyone will be bothered turning up."

Four teams, made up of mostly 'new Scots' from across the globe, who have come to Scotland from all round the world for safety, love, work or study, will play two matches together on a specially created pitch set deep within a forest near Selkirk.

Later in the year the white lines of the pitch will be replanted with a mixture of native tree varieties. This will evolve into a natural sculpture - a ghost pitch - which the public can enjoy for up to 60 years into the future.

The idea was dreamt up by artist Craig Coulthard, whose grandfather Jim was Shoemaker Standard Bearer in 1952, and has been described as a major part of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Games.

Organisers have not revealed how many tickets, if any, have been sold for the matches. However, they revealed they hoped up to 1000 spectators will attend the event.

A spokesman for the event said: "It is not anticipated that there will be any conflict with other events taking place around August 25 - indeed, we hope that it will make the Borders an even more attractive place to come for a bank holiday weekend of art and sport."

Match tickets need to be booked in advance from www.forestpitch.org or by calling 01665 833751. Prices are £5 for adults, £3.50 for concessions and under-5s are free. Family tickets are £15. The day's events will run from 10.30am to 5pm with first kick off at around noon.

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