Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Hitchin Town Saturday 8th January 2011. We drew 1-1 in front of biggest gate of the season, 346. Hitchin still top of the league and unbeaten this season. Slough are fourth.
I’ve given up on ever seeing a Christmas football match. With a winter so cold I’ve been sitting in a fridge to warm up, yet another postponement meant, along with hundreds of other clubs, Slough missed the Boxing Day bonus of crowds that are often the seasons best.
Now I am against a winter break – the British weather is just too unpredictable, and if we had two weeks off when the weather was mild and then the country went back into a deep freeze postponing games; well it would not only financially cripple clubs already on the edge, but send football fans into a Slough of football craving despond.
Luckily the two respected secretaries of Slough and Beaconsfield made a quick decision and re-arranged the Boxing Day game for a few days later when a lot of people were still off work and programmes wouldn’t have to be shredded. The second best crowd of the season saw the game with the most goals. Not that I saw any. How I laughed after deciding not to go with the twitter feed on my phone going into meltdown. Three down in 21 minutes eventually became 6-4 to Slough. There hasn’t been a comeback like that since we beat Stafford in the Conference and I roamed the streets looking for a cat to kick.
Even worse was to follow on New Years Day. Surely the league would put on a full fixture list just like the Ryman League? Oh no, another free Saturday and instead we played on the bank holiday Monday. The day when a lot of people are gearing them up for going back to work after an extended break.
There is one simple thing to tackle the inevitable congestion that comes with so many postponed games, and that is play more Tuesday night games earlier in the season. Just imagine; watching games in the barmy evenings of September, rather than freezing to death in February. The Slough manager Steve Bateman seems to agree “I just cannot understand this season in some respects. I spent the first five weeks of the season looking for games and now we’ve got to Christmas and we have this huge gap. It’s just beyond me that at the start of the season when there were dates available and everyone is full of optimism that we weren’t playing. Knowing what has happened in the last three years or so we don’t seem to have learned from it; it’s looking like it might need another extension to the season.” When asked if the club would write to the league to express their disappointment in the fixture list, Bateman responded: “I’m not sure there is any point. If they haven’t learned their lesson from last year they are never going to. What is obvious to the clubs, players and supporters never seems strikingly obvious to the powers that be.”
Well taking up the baton I decided to contact Jason Mills League Secretary of the Zamaretto League to find out their position. “With the last few season’s winter weather decimating fixtures, wouldn't it be prudent to have more Tuesday night fixtures at the beginning of the season when the weather is a lot kinder, you might even get a few more punters through the turnstiles? Be great if you could give me a quote to use.”
Mr.Mills sent a prompt but curt reply “Thanks for your email, however I am unable to offer you a quote for publication.”
So now I understand what our manager is saying about asking the league for a bit of common sense if that’s the response you get.
Watching football in this weather might be good for club shop Sues bobble hat sales but its no good for anyone else.