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Saturday 12th March 2016 ko 14.00

Lowland League

PRESTON ATHLETIC P

THREAVE ROVERS P

Match postponed- waterlogged pitch

Saturday 12th March 2016 ko 14.30

East of Scotland League

CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS 2 (Bogey 31 65) Neils sent off 65 (DOGSO)

LEITH ATHLETIC 3 (Glynn 2 Lowson 15 Masson 45p)

Att 165

Entry £5

Programme To be posted

The first inkling I had that something was wrong was the stream of people glumly leaving Pennypit Park, as our two coaches pulled into the ground in Prestonpans. The reason became clear as I dashed over to the club’s offices, the departing Threave team let me know that one small patch of pitch was deemed too soft by the referee as the teams had warmed up. I normally see the word “No” as an invitation to negotiate, but I was soon to discover that was impossible.

Once the decision had been made, the official had made a sharp exit, and SFA rules state that once one referee has postponed the game another cannot reverse it. Moreover, since these days all Senior and Junior refereeing appointments are made centrally by the SFA and not by the leagues, there was no opportunity to guarantee a “friendly” ref, which let’s face it, outwith these circumstances, must be a good thing.

What was left was a club secretary in tears, and both the time and expense of the club’s preparations ruined. It will give us at GroundhopUK a conundrum in the next few days. The obvious move will to be to offer all those who bought tickets for the fixture either a refund or a credit towards a future event, but as I type we do wonder whether there’s a groundswell of opinion towards individual hoppers simply donating their ticket money to help Preston. We’ll be guided by people’s opinions as always, and the plan is to give Preston Athletic another hop game next season, when we’re based here, hopping the East of Scotland League.

But with all due respect to all at Prestonpans if we had lose a game it was this one. With no end of Junior and EoSL games kicking off at 2.30, anyone who wanted a replacement game got one, and several local clubs got a real bonus. For two coachloads though we had to think a little more carefully.

The priority had to be the 5pm kick-off at Spartans, to maintain the intregrity of the hop, so we set off for Civil Service Strollers, whose Christie Gillies Park home is only a short distance from Ainslie Park. We contacted a surprised club, a gate was opened, and we succeeded in missing only the first few minutes save for Chris Berezai who missed the entire game organising for a consignment of 100 programmes for the game to be sent south for distribution to our ticket holders.

The quirk of the club’s history is that despite their current status, two promotions from the SPFL they are full members of the SFA and as such are entitled to enter the Scottish FA Cup when other, bigger clubs are not. Not for no reason is the club’s full membership certificate displayed prominently!

The great irony of a frantic hour or so, was that arguably the best game of the hop was the game that wasn’t on it! Whilst Leith were clearly the better side, Strollers were always competitive and it was only the dismissal of Craig Neils for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity that swung the tie in Leith’s favour.

We trooped back to the coaches, with Chris and I feeling a little shell-shocked, but as we headed the half mile or so to Spartans I concluded that we’d probably made the best of a bad situation. Some days you have to earn your corn.

 

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