Premature cancellation


In five months time Non-League fans will be up in arms about their teams having to play three (or even four) games a week in order to meet the ridiculous deadlines imposed by their respective masters.  Some of these clubs will be paying the prize of successful cup runs whereas others are simply having to pay catch up because matches earlier in the season were cancelled far too quickly.  Today was a classic case in point.

10763422535_20fa3da856_bThe weather forecast this week didn’t look good for Saturday, and sure enough the rain started falling late Friday night.  Come Saturday morning and pitch inspections were taking place across the south-east.  Lewes’s trip to Aveley to play Grays Athletic was one of the first to fall to the conditions of the pitch at 10.30am meaning I had to re-plan my day.  And it wasn’t only my day ruined.  The original plan was to be dropped in the throbbing metropolis of Aveley by CMF whilst she went shopping in Lakeside before she picked me up some hours, and some beers later.

Fortunately I had a back up plan, although it changed every few minutes as further games were cancelled.  Yet what struck me, looking out of the windows of TBIR Towers, was the clear skies and calm forecast for the rest of the day.  With four hours to kick off, how many of those pitches would be playable come 3pm?  Interestingly, both Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace took decisions to delay the kick offs in their games so that conditions had improved.  Why didn’t other clubs take that decision?  Would it have mattered if Grays v Lewes would have kicked off at 4 or 5pm ?  Surely it would have been preferable to play it today rather than now having to fit in another game somewhere in midweek when players may struggle to get time off work to travel 80-odd miles each way to play the game.  As it stands, the Rooks already have four midweek games scheduled between now and Christmas, with two more possible if respective cup games end positively. Continue reading

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Praise the Lordswood


8622788588_4a228b5a17_bIt’s been an easy week at TBIR Towers. Easy because I haven’t been there. I’ve been a few thousand miles away beavering away in New York, suffering as usual from chronic jet lag. I’ve become so much of a friend to Mr. 3AM that I even went out for a run. That is how bad it’s been – running around Battery Park at 6am with other sad, depressive, obsessive insomniacs. The view from my 24th floor hotel window of the World Trade Center is impressive, but hardly moves at the pace I needed to keep me interested.

The other issue with time zones is you are never really sure what is going on in the old of football and when. The Champions League simply passed me by this week with Real Madrid almost certainly booking their Champions League Final 2013 tickets, whilst important scores in the Ryman Premier failed to make it onto my radar. As if I needed to really check anyway. I mean Cray Wanderers were hardly likely to go to play-off chasing Bury Town and win, were they? And Thurrock’s chances of anything at title-chasing Lowestoft Town were as slim as Kate Moss. So landing at Heathrow n the early hours was. Rude awakening as I checked the scores on my phone. Mr Relegation was well and truly on the A27.

Alas the delay in my return trip (thanks UK Border control for not having enough people working at T5 to cope with the inbound flights!) meant that I wasn’t able to join the legions of the Lewes Lunatic Fringe on the Road To Wembley where Hendon, themselves a perennial relegation candidate, were already tucked up safe and sound for the season. Perhaps they will have already packed their bags for their summer trip to Clacton, meaning the Rooks would return from Middlesex with three points. We can but hope.

For me, my fun was going to be found a bit closer to home. I was dropping down into the Kent Premier League. Potentially, Lewes could be playing against one of the teams currently fighting it out at the top of the league. Current leaders Erith & Belvedere were all set for the next step up, ground sharing with Welling United. Second-placed VCD have been in the Ryman League a few years ago, holding their own too before a ludicrous ground grading decision saw them forcibly relegated (ridiculous considering a recent decision given in favour of another certain Ryman League team anyway). Tunbridge Wells, finalists in the FA Vase in 4 weeks time, carrying the hopes of a County with them, have a minimum of 3 games a week from now until the end of the season as a reward for being successful in the cup.

But my destinations were straight down Watling Way, the Roman Road that allowed those Roman cricket fans to travel down to Canterbury, or Durovernum Cantiacorum as it was known in those days. I was going to see a game on either side of the Medway, the aquatic barrier separating the Men of Kent from the Kentish Man.

8625602236_29d0cbf910_bDespite having Gillingham on the doorstep, Charlton Athletic running coaches on every matchday from the Medway towns and the new non league giants of Maidstone United just at the bottom of Bluebell Hill, Rochester United and Lordswood continue to slowly make progress on and off the pitch.  Rochester were the club formerly known as Bly Spartans, formed by a Geordie with a lisp. The club was only formed 30 years ago, and slowly made up the leagues until they were invited to take part in the inaugural Kent Invicta League in 2010.  Last season they were crowned champions of that league and moved into the top-level of the county game for the start of this season. Continue reading