Using The word “pitch” to describe the area of ground where a soccer game is played originated in England during the 1800s.
To many people, the word “pitch” can seem like a strange word to use in this context. But once you understand the reasons why this word came to be used, you may find that it makes sense.
Why Is It Called a Soccer Pitch?
The word “pitch” has been in use for centuries. Even as far back as 1200, it was being used in old English.
And you are probably aware of its use in other areas of life such as when someone is “pitching a tent”, or at night when it’s “pitch-black” outside.
But how and why the word “pitch” came to be used in the context of soccer is surprising to most people. Especially when they discover its use comes from a separate sport.
Now, you may not know much about cricket, but it does have a history of influencing soccer. But before explaining how the use of the word pitch to describe a playing surface transferred from cricket to soccer, you need to understand what the original meaning of the word “pitch” was.
Meaning of the word “pitch”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the origin of the word pitch is from:
“Middle English – pichen – to thrust, drive, fix firmly.”
You can see this in the modern-day use of the phrase “pitching a tent.” The idea is that you are driving stakes into the ground to ensure that the tent is fixed firmly to the ground.
In a game of cricket, 3 stakes, known as stumps, are thrust or driven into the ground. These are used as a target for the players to throw the ball at.
This act of setting up the stumps before a game was often referred to as “pitching the stumps” as the word “pitching” can also mean:
“To erect or set up.”
Soccer was often played at cricket grounds
When soccer first began to become popular in England during the 1800s, there were very few designated soccer fields in existence. But the game of cricket was already popular throughout the country, and most towns had a local cricket pitch.
Because of the lack of access to soccer fields, it was common for many soccer games to be played on the ground where the local cricket games were played and as previously mentioned, in popular terminology at the time, the area of ground where the soccer game was being played was often referred to as the “pitch.”
As the sport of soccer grew in popularity, designated fields were set apart for soccer games to be played on, and cricket pitches were left for cricket games to be played on. But the term used to describe the playing surface stuck, and from then on up until the present day, a soccer field was regularly referred to as a soccer pitch.