It’s been a hectic few days for non-league clubs with extensions been granted up and down the county. The Northern Counties East Football League found out last night that their would be a week extension.
We have contacted several managers up and down the NCEL for their opinion, which varies greatly.
Dean Bamford, Hallam assistant manager was first up, “I’ve listened and read all the arguments for/against but feel ours is unique. Sandygate is the oldest ground in the world as you know, the location also gets extreme weather so the club are limited what we can do.
“I can assure you the grounds man and everyone at Hallam do there utmost each match day to get the game on. We spend as much as anyone on the pitch but the amount we’ve had this winter is unbelievable. In our opinion there’s no option. We look to gain no advantage from this.”
Fellow NCEL Division One assistant at Knaresborough Town Paul Clayton voiced his opinion, “It’s not ideal as it throws up lots of anomalies but unfortunately with the terrible weather we’ve had over the last 4 months it is inevitable.
“Take Selby Town as an example, they are playing 5th 7th 10th 12th 14th 17th WRCC Final 19th and 21st then the season is supposed to finish. However they have home games against us and Campion to fit in! How are they going to do that? An extra week will mean they can play 24th and 28th. It’s not just one or two teams there’s a lot in both divisions that have a similar scenario.
“The league have tried to complete the leagues on the intended dates but circumstances have dictated an extension is required.”
James Colliver, manager of high-flying Handsworth Parramore said, “I feel the league are setting theirselves up big time if they decide to extend the season. Teams including ourselves have played through difficult circumstances ,played with barebones and often played when they could’ve thought let’s not play today because we could have a stronger squad in May when our dual registered players are available or lads are back fit.
“We have deadlines to meet, why don’t we play twice a week at the start of the season every week? Why wait, many missed opportunities to fulfil the fixtures if you ask me. Extending the league would give an unfair advantage this should’ve been decided months ago but not now!”
Nathan Collins, Grimsby Borough joint manager commented, “It’s a good idea and really the league has had no choice as it would be impossible to get all the games played especially with the rain showing no sign of easing off, its the same for all clubs so we just need to get on with it.”
One of the hardest hit teams in terms of postponements has been Barton Town, their manager David Ricardo believes more could be done earlier in the season, “I was against the idea on principle when people were suggesting it 3/4 weeks ago however I dont think the league had any choice at this point. Calls for games to be played at local park pitches were farcical however I know it is frustrating for all concerned especially Chairman, Secretarys and Groundsman who as we all know are volunteers and do it for the love and loyalty of the game.
“I know a small number of teams will feel as though they are disadvantaged by this decision but I do feel it was the correct one and one that will not set a precedent. The conditions this year I have not know in my 20 years at this level. Next year with the Premier division going down to 20 teams the issue I hope will not be re visited and as well I believe the league will put more midweek games on between August and December.”
Assistant manager at relegation threatened Retford United Mark Higgingbottom is fully in support with the extension, “It’s what’s needed, with all this bad weather we’ve had it’s been crazy how many games have been called off. Some teams have 2 or 3 more games to play than us so it’s definitely something that needed looking at.”
Lee Vigars, Glasshoughton Welfare’s joint manager says common sense has prevailed, “I’m really not surprised the league have been granted an extension – the weather has been appalling in recent months. There’s no doubt most sides will benefit from the extra week but for some it will still be extremely difficult. Common sense prevails for me and in the interest of player safety and health in general, you cannot ask these lads to play 4 maybe 5 games a week. That’s just ridiculous so I feel the right decision has been made.”
However, Grimsby Borough joint manager Daniel Barrett is against the extension, “I know there are many opinions even amongst ourselves as managers but personally I think it’s a bad idea. It is what it is. The decision has been made now so no going back. Personally speaking I won’t be down the ground at 0800 with my fork and wellies trying my best to get games on anymore.
“I can only speak for ourselves and say we have genuinely tried to make sure every game is playable – unfortunately we have had to have 2x postponements I think. In my opinion there has been a number of tactical games called off this year for one reason or another suspensions, lads working midweek, the list goes on. We have a large number of lads booked to go away on holiday the last weekend of the season that could be a huge factor in our season now.”
Possibly the hardest hit in terms of weather and postponements has been Hall Road Rangers, with manager Bill Gill pleased with the extension, “Any extension to the league is good for us as we are unfortunate to have a pitch built on clay grounds and this is a disadvantage for draining water through natural sources. Some clubs are lucky to have pitches built on rocks sand and stone surfaces which is a huge advantage for natural draining sources as it acts as a filter system and drains quickly.
“The extension is minimum to encourage clubs to get games played asap that’s a strategic move from the league if they give more time clubs could take advantage so I think they will take it week by week now before offering any further extensions No club committee or players want games off everyone at every club works endlessly to get games on however sub soils determine the filtration and drainage it goes on areas in the region if you can bore yourself to look into it.”
Whilst forthright Bridlington Town manager Curtis Woodhouse was blunt in his response, “I couldn’t care less, looks like the lunatics have taken over the asylum so leave them too it.”