New football pitch has huge tree in the middle

Emma Woollacott
The football pitch, complete with tree.
The football pitch, complete with tree.

A new football pitch in the village of Tonciu, Romania, boasts an unusual feature: a tree right in the middle.

The council spent £12,730 on creating the pitch for the 200 pupils at the local school on a patch of donated land. It has artificial turf and floodlights, surrounded by high wire fencing and gates.

However, some older locals demanded the preservation of an oak tree on the site, which had been standing for 150 years.

"The football field was arranged in 2012, and the budget approved. Because of the will of the villagers, who wanted to keep the tree, we were forced to continue the work and build the football field around the oak," mayor Ioan Milasan tells the Mirror.

"The field serves the 200 pupils of the local school in Tonciu, but anyone who wants to play football is welcome. We consider the oak tree to be a unique and special one."

Unsurprisingly, the decision to keep the tree has been questioned, and the council is now considering removing it after all - after keeping a few acorns to replant.

The council, though, may be missing a trick. Over in Estonia, there's already a football pitch with an oak tree right in the middle - a tree that was recently named as Tree of the Year by the Environmental Partnership Association.

Not only do players say the tree isn't a problem, they've learned to use it strategically in their games.

Here in the UK, Kent County Cricket Club no longer boasts a lime tree in the middle, after it died ten years ago. But the tree was a much-loved addition to the game, earning four runs every time it was hit.

There's also a tree in the middle of a lower-league football pitch in São Paulo, and another used to interfere with play in St Albans. While the 140-year-old 'late tree' was actually sited in a neighbouring park, the overhang occasionally caused problems.

And over the last couple of months, trees have been appearing unexpectedly on football pitches in the US. So far, the pranksters responsible haven't been identified.

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