News and Views from the Football League – Weathering the storm

With no action in the Championship during the week, our attention today switches to League One. With a full schedule of fixtures set for Tuesday night, once again there has been no shortage of action, entertainment and intrigue on offer.

Unfortunately, Stockport and Swindon were not able to take to the field at Edgeley Park on Tuesday and will have to go again on another occasion. This is the second fixture in a row that County have had to postpone as their F.A. Cup tie against Torquay fell victim to the elements last Saturday. Further to this, the rugby union match between Sale Sharks and London Wasps also to be held at Edgeley Park last week was unable to go ahead as Wasps controversially refused to take to the field owing to the state of the pitch.

Credit must be given to the ground staff at Stockport however, as they tirelessly worked in an effort to make the pitch playable. Sand was used in order to soak up the standing water but it was ultimately this action which saw the official take the decision not to let the fixture go-ahead, citing the sand as a danger to the players. Perhaps it is a good thing that County have an away fixture this weekend. Not only that, an away fixture against fellow strugglers Wycombe where they will look to pick up an invaluable three points.

Now everyone will see Stockport’s recent postponements in a different way. It truly depends on what sort of a fan you are. If you are the eternal optimist, you will only see the good in what has happened. In this instance, whilst Wycombe played a midweek fixture away from home on Tuesday, County will be fresh and not have played for a week and a half, potentially giving them the edge in the fixture. The pessimist/realist will quite rightly sight the fact that further down the line, County will have some form of fixture pile-up to contend with. Should they remain in the lower reaches of the division for the rest of the season, they will not look forward to having to play so many games in such a short space of time.

Sticking with League One, there was a bizarre turn of events down at Brisbane Road as Leyton Orient saw off Gillingham 3-1. In the previous article there were allusions to poor relations between managers and officials, and it would seem that Andy D’Urso has done little to improve matters.

The Gills players were asked to make their own way to the stadium for this fixture. There was no team coach from Kent as many of the players live nearer to the East London area than the club they represent. Unfortunately for manager Mark Stimson, heavy traffic around the ground meant that he was forced to start with the first 11 players that turned up. An hour before kick-off, Mr. D’Urso demanded the team-sheet from the Gills manager but he was obviously unable to provide a definitive list. A delay to the kick-off was requested but their pleas fell on deaf ears as the official ruled that there was no safety risk and so no delay could be granted.

It is easy to understand the frustration from the Gills camp. These were extreme circumstances, and with some players stuck in traffic and others on the London Underground, it was clearly impossible to name a team. There was simply no way of telling who would turn up first.

However, the decision to not travel together on the coach has to be questioned. We can all understand the financial constraints that clubs find themselves in these days and every effort to reduce expenditure should be welcomed. It should also be noted that the idea of travelling individually was also for convenience owing to where many of the players live, and not just for the sake of saving money. Now of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there are so many factors to consider for an away day in East London.

Anyone who has travelled through London on a weeknight, whether by public transport or car, will know what a nightmare it can be. Our capital is heavily populated and many commute in for work. As such, it is an horrendous experience to be travelling around with all the commuters as they make their way home from the office. Packed, slow trains and traffic jams are inevitabilities. With this in mind, it is hard to feel sympathy towards the Gills. Asking players to travel individually to the match was always going to cause problems, and perhaps a rethink will be in order should Gillingham have to play away in London again on a week night.

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