The other night I took my wife to see a play called Boeing Boeing at the Comedy Theatre in London. This was an evening of laughter and fun in the traditions of the best British farces. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes the West End stage.
So why do I mention this? Well it seems certain events at our football club resemble a farce sometimes as well. Today we heard from a player who was about to join us but at the very last moment changed his mind and told us – by text message! More than that though I want to explain the circumstances surrounding playing the Hastings game at Earlsmead on 1 September.
I promised that this blog would give readers the opportunity to see a bit more about what really goes on behind the scenes at a football club so let me explain the frustrations we have felt with this series of events.
Before the League fixtures were published we knew Northwood had a home draw on 1 September in the FA Cup (against Uxbridge) and therefore we requested not to have a home league fixture that day. The company who organise the fixtures ignored this and we were given the Hastings fixture.
Now I am led to understand that lots of clubs make requests to avoid playing home games on certain days, local fetes, weddings etc etc and the rule is to try and avoid this as much as possible otherwise it might make it impossible to ever come up with a list of fixtures. Fair enough, but given we were up against the FA Cup draw – there was not much we could have done.
Hastings could not play on the Friday or the Sunday (which is their right) so we were told that we needed to find another Ryman League ground to play the fixture at. We contemplated The White Lion (before Edgware were reprieved) but this was impractical and also talked to Peter Rogers at Harrow. Peter was happy to help if he could.
We also continued talking to Northwood and persuaded them that moving their Cup tie to the Friday could mean a bigger crowd and a better night. They decided to go along with this and were happy to move but Uxbridge decided not to play ball.
Of course, from our perspective we pay a fee to Northwood to cover our ground rent. We do not want to pay more to another club to use their facilities. We had to do that once at Harefield for the Watford game but this is money better in our pockets than another club.
Our final thought therefore was to consider playing on the Saturday night after the FA Cup tie – but this didn’t work out either. At this point both clubs agreed to try to play the match later in the season. Yet here the League wouldn’t help us. Against the rules they told us, no possibility of moving a Saturday fixture, that this is the occasional peril of groundsharing etc. No common sense more like.
So we will play at Harrow on 1 September at 3.00. A home fixture at Earlsmead! Firstly let me say that our dealings with Harrow, Northwood and Hastings over this have been absolutely exemplary. This is what I mean about building relationships because each of these clubs has tried to help us.
However it really frustrates us. We did request not to get a home fixture on this day. We knew there was a problem and we tried to avoid it – then we came up with several ways of avoiding it. But rules are rules and common sense does not form part of them. We will be writing to the league to forcefully express our feelings and request some compensation but we won’t hold our breath.