Hopes & Nightmares!-Part 1
It had not been a good week anyway before I departed from Cambridgeshire for my jaunt up North last Friday to take in two games at the Turf against Norwich and Stoke. It seemed that Steve Cotterill had not succeeded in bringing to the Turf, his fourth transfer target despite earlier encouraging noises suggesting maybe it was almost a fait acomplis. There was also a suggestion that Brian Jensen may have handed in a transfer request if the Daily Mail was to be believed. This subsequently proved to be the case.
During the week also of course we had high winds and storm damage in many parts of the country including it would seem in Burnley where news broke that the Cricket Field Stand had been damaged casting doubt as to whether the game would go ahead. Weather forecasts predominated and the general consensus was that the game would still go ahead on Saturday against Norwich but we would just have to find a home for the Norwich fans taking a similar journey up North as myself.
Well that seemed OK then, we might have to endure a few Canaries in our territory in the James Hargreaves Lower and play a few musical chairs but at least we would see the match!
I therefore set-off really looking forward to the match and seeing our three new faces in the team play in their home debuts. Namely,Ade (playing his second home debut of course) Mike Pollitt and Eric Djembe-Djembe. The weather was also perfect and in complete contrast to the previous day as I drove the three-hour journey up to Mum's ready for Saturday.
Come Saturday morning and off to 'The Bridge' for a Clarets Trust Board Meeting. Did the business over a couple of pints of real ale and then the grim news started to filter through with those dreaded words 'pitch inspection'. The rest they say was history as it became official that the match was off thanks to a waterlogged pitch in one small area of the pitch. The usual area that has caused so many problems over the years. I suppose we have to respect the referee's decision, the frustration of the groundstaff and the annoyance of the manager but at the end of the day you still feel like chucking something at someone. The inevitable 'why does this always happen to us' and 'why cant we sort this out' questions are raised again! You also realise that those two pints you just had hoping to metabolise off during the match are now in your system and taking you over the limit should you decide to drive back home. Whilst that is going through your mind, you then wonder whether you will keep hold of the Norwich ticket for the rearranged match or try and get a refund.
So there we all were in the pub spitting venom but realising there was nowt we could do. Of course I suppose it was worse for the Norwich fans, who had just wasted a whole day and expense of getting up there but surely there must be a better way of doing things.
You cant help thinking that there must have been an element of doubt that this match would go ahead and it seems folly to have to wait for a referee to make a decision an hour or so before kick-off when both sets of home and away fans are committed and cant change their plans.
To give the Club their due, it does seem they pulled out all the stops with extra covers from the Lancs Cricket Club placed over the exisiting covers in the problem area at the corner of the Bob Lord & Jimmy Mac Stands. Dave Edmundson also stated that £5000 was spent on drainage work in that area. He goes on to say that the club's experienced ground staff thought there was no problem with the pitch but maybe if an official independent pitch inspector had said the same thing on Friday we would have gone ahead on Saturday assuming there was no significant deterioration
Perhaps the best way though when there is obviously an element of doubt because of the adverse weather conditions would be to have a local Official Referee inspect the pitch the day before. If there was any doubt that the pitch could be ready in time, then why not postpone the match and give everybody enough warning before starting their travel on the Saturday? Surely that would get the respect of all fans rather than the venom from a late postponement on the day and all the hassle that brings with it.
Of course, that will not prevent all postponements if there is freak weather on the day and the Reading match would be an example of that but at least this might minimise the frustration. Lets face it, it was not going to be ideal anyway with the damage to the away end stand so maybe it would have been easier to say 'Lets call the whole thing off!' before Saturday was upon us.
Oh well, things could only get better couldnt they? At least I was staying over till the Stoke match, surely that would go ahead and we would get three points and all would not be a wasted journey...perhaps it would have been better if this match had also been postponed (see Part 2 & 3)