Some Unfortunate Weather

In the week following our match against Harrow Borough, fixture list chaos finally descended upon the Ryman Premier with the falling temperatures of a pan-European high pressure region.   The chill winds from the east plunged the thermometer to below zero throughout Southeast England and, with rural areas getting as low as -15, North London sank to a cold -6 degrees Celsius.

A1000

The A1000 in Heavy Snow

As predicted in my previous blog, the referee took one look at the pitch from the warmth of his limo on the Saturday morning and promptly reversed out of the Abrahams Stadium – the Lewes game was off.   As the cold continued into the next week the already postponed match away at Leatherhead was the next victim.   The only positive was that everybody was suffering at the same time – not a single club was immune from the weather.   By Friday of that week the snow had moved in and blanketed the whole of East Anglia – No point in setting out for the away game at Bury.  Despite valiant efforts by their staff and volunteers the match was off due to a mix of snow and a frozen pitch.

Now, all this came at an inopportune moment for The Blues.   After a long period of struggling against teams higher up the league than ourselves, the guys had just put together back-to-back wins.   It would have been ideal to have been able keep the momentum going.   Now the team had suffered a period without games and I doubt that much serious training was possible in the conditions either.   So there was a degree of the unknown about the challenge of a home game against Kingstonian.

When we visited Kingstonian, it was a gloriously sunny day. The weather for the return visit dawned bright but turned to cloud at lunchtime and, as if ushered in by the shrill peep of the referee’s whistle it started to rain as the game kicked off. I’d had a look at the pitch and a brief chat with Stuart prior to the game and our view was that it would cut up during the match – more rain wasn’t going to help any. The game was a bit of a stodgy affair. Leon and Lairdy led the line against a solid Kingstonian back 4. Leon looked a bit out of sorts – half a yard slower than normal and possibly less eager to get the ball; An effect of the enforced break?

Handball

Handball Aftermath - Ball moving away from the keepers reach and Lairdy about to challenge the Ref''s decision

The Blues had the best of the first 20 minutes with Lairdy, Gary, Bobby Aisien and Gaz all creating chances that either went wide or were blocked. On the 20th minute Lairdy and the Kingstonian number 5 challenged in the area for a high bouncing ball and the defender clearly pushed it away with his hand. David, along with several other players and fans, was incensed as he called for the referee to award a penalty but the Ref was having none of it – ruling that the ball had rolled down the defender’s arm from his chest. Sorry ref, but I can’t agree with that assessment – I saw the guy push the ball with his hand through the viewfinder of the camera; It was a deliberate act to prevent Lairdy from getting a chance on goal.

As fast as we had a penalty denied, Keiron dived in on the Kingstonian striker in our penalty area. It was an unnecessary ‘rush of blood to the head’ moment that saw the referee point to the spot allowing the visitors to take the lead. Every player makes mistakes and hopefuly Keiron will learn from this one – he usually puts in some great crunching tackles outside of the area to break up attacks… just needs to remember which side of the line he’s on 😉

As the rest of the half progressed the pitch got heavier and the teams largely negated each other.     Then, just before the end of the half, Kingstonian fullback Aaron Goode picked up the ball close to the halfway line and advanced a a few paces before striking a speculative drive towards goal.   Missing at first it struck his opposite number, Bobby Aisien, and was deflected into the net beyond Bobby Smith’s reach giving Kingstonian a 2-0 lead.  Nothing either fullback or keeper could have done about that one 😦

Almost immediately from the restart Wingate had the ball in the net courtesy of Marc Weatherstone only to have it disallowed for off-side – the linesman ruling that Marc was returning from an offside position when the ball was played.   I thought that the Kingstonian number 5 was playing Marc on but the linesman had a better angle so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.   I think it was at that point that the fans concluded that we weren’t going to get anything out of the game.

The second half started in monsoon conditions – I wrapped the camera inside my coat and hid in the Gents portacabin for a few minutes until it subsided (needed to use the facilities anyway).   Note to self… Must talk to the CIA – If they can make suits to conceal shoulder holster weapons, perhaps they can make coats to conceal SLR’s with Long Lenses 😉

Lairdy with his great mop of hair usually reminds me of the Dulux dog as he lollops into the area with it flopping around.   In these conditions even his unruly hair was matted flat to his skull.  I’m surprised the players could even look for the ball – let alone find it and play it!

Blocked

Blocked!

In such difficult conditions the play was poor but, as the rain eased to the more standard English downpour conditions, the play improved and Tony Burke put in a great twisting and turning run around the edge of the area before unleashing a shot that went just over the bar.   He also struck the bar from a free kick won by Leon – another of those ‘tonight is not going to be our night’ hints.   Lairdy had two excellent shots blocked by last ditch defensive efforts.

On the 65th minute, Kingstonian Striker Stuart Duff fell over in agony on the edge of our box under a challenge from Bobby Aisien.   Play was stopped and both teams physios worked together to aid the stricken striker.   The stretcher was called for and he was carried off to the medical room to the applause of both sets of fans.   We come to watch football, not to see players injured, and a serious injury always brings both sets of fans together in support of the injured player.   Talking with one of the Kingstonian officials in the bar afterwards we got the full story… As the two players were running together he’d tried to turn but his leg hadn’t followed his body (probably stuck in a secton of pitch that had cut up during play) and his knee-cap had popped out.   Nothing to do with the challenge by Bobby (it’s always good when a player feels able to exonerate an opponent from blame).  The physios from both clubs popped the knee-cap back into place and the Stuart Duff was able to limp into the bar after the game to partake of some medication – Top marks to the physios 🙂

Late in the game Tony Burke put a smartly paced low cross in for Ola but it was just a few inches too far at full stretch and passed harmlessly out for a goalkick.   Max Mitchell came on late in the half only to get a yellow card from the ref 😦   We were awarded a free kick outside the area for a foul and the location where the ref wanted the kick taken from was clearly around 10 yards wider than where the foul actually took place.  Max politely asked the ref if it was the right place, indicating that he thought it should be closer to the centre of the pitch.  With the Ref not agreeing, he sought confirmation from the Assistant.  At that point the Referee took out his yellow card and booked Max for dissent.   I could hear every word that was spoken.   It was a polite plea for justice with no bad language or shouting into an official’s face from short range.    A more reasoning referee would have explained his decision to the player and possibly warned him without allowing the ball to be correctly located.  In fact, I see the Respect site classifies Dissent with these words “The key message remains however that it is never acceptable to confront a referee in any way.”   Confront certainly doesn’t mean asking a polite question – at least not in my book!   I feel it was a mis-use of the referee’s position of authority to issue a card in those circumstances and if the wording of the Respect site condones that then I think the campaign (well intentioned though it certainly is) will fail because respect must, by definition, be a two way street.   A lesson learned for Max – If the ref says that’s where the kick is to be taken from then there is no point in asking for it to be correctly placed.   Next time Max, ask the Skipper to raise it with the Ref… That’s what he’s there for and it’s one of the roles and responsibilities he has.   Hopefully that way no one will get a card – but you never know with some refs 😦

So, a loss from a match where The Blues played well enough to have at least deserved a draw.   Fortunately, I think the players realised that they had been unlucky rather than beaten and went home with a positive feeling ready for the next away game at Leatherhead.   Ola loitered too long in the bar after the game and was collared by Mike to act as a model for the club shop with the Away Scarf …

The Away Scarf

Ola with The Away Scarf

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.

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Comments

  1. I was going to comment on how brutal that weather sounded…
    then I got to the kneecap part, and suddenly those temperatures sounded like a walk in the park by comparison! Ouch! Glad to hear he was up and walking around so quickly – a very scary deal!
    🙂

    • I heard the scream as he went down from almost the opposite end of the pitch! I know a dislocated knee-cap really hurts – one of my Union colleagues slipped on the tram tracks in Blackpool and dislocated his. The Ambulance crew were joking that if he hadn’t been drunk at the time they’d have still been waiting for him to come back down to earth 😉 The physios do a great job of looking after the players 🙂

  2. Boy tons of snow in that 1st photo. I really hate driving in the stuff so I’m glad we usually only get it up in the central highlands, west coast & southern parts. We live in Launceston in the north west of the state & only see snow on the surrounding mountains. I’m glad we don’t get it here in town

    • I have driven in snow but normally I don’t need to these days so I just get out with the camera and take some pictures. That one was actually taken in 2010, but it conveys what the snow was like this January and is around half a mile from Wingate & Finchley’s ground.

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