Everyone past chairman John Bowler have blasted the club for failing to get last night’s game on.
After the Bristol Rovers game at Gresty Road was given the go-ahead yesterday morning it looked like business as usual, but a late pitch inspection at 6:00pm saw the game off.
It left the club red faced and fans from both sides rightly angered, but it was the referee Russell Booth who blasted CAFC for the lack action over an icey pitch.
Speaking to Radio Stoke about his decision to call the game off, he was less than impressed by the grounds-staff, who didn’t appear to heed his early warnings.
‘I arrived at 1620 GMT, having been told there were no problems with the pitch, and my first impressions were that someone should be working on it,
‘I told the groundsman if we want the game played we’ve got to get the snow off the pitch. About an hour later there wasn’t many people working on it.
‘I then made a decision to wait till 6:00pm for Paul Trollope [Bristol Rovers manager] to arrive so I could walk the pitch with the managers, and all three of us decided player’s safety is paramount and unfortunately that wouldn’t have been the case tonight if we had played the game.
‘There was pressure from different people in the game to play this game but player’s safety is paramount and you’ve got to take that into consideration when you’re referee.’
Crewe Alex chairman John Bowler however felt his staff did as much as they could. In his usual spin-doctor style, he says we were blameless.
But it’s not the first match to be called off due to pitch conditions. The number of home matches called off during winter months in recent years is getting embarrassingly high, but club still refuse to spend money on a heated cover, or any other preventive measure.
‘Devastated and really disappointed.
‘We brought another referee in this morning so that our colleagues from Bristol didn’t have to make a fruitless journey, but it’s the match referee who makes the final decision.
‘I want to ensure everybody that we really did take every opportunity that we could to try and make sure that supporters and players from Bristol didn’t make a fruitless journey.
‘I don’t think there’s more the staff could have done today to make sure the game had gone ahead.
‘I accept that player’s safety is paramount but what I’m anxious for is for people not to believe that the club staff didn’t take every possible action they could take to try and ensure the game went ahead.’
Manager Gudjon Thordarson however was happy to question the club. Not one to shy away from saying what he thinks, Thordarson told Radio Stoke he’ll be questioning if the club really did do everything they could:
‘I’m disappointed because I wanted to play this game badly.
‘I can fully understand where the referee is coming from. I wanted the game to take place and Paul Trollope wasn’t too happy about it. I can understand the concern but then I ask the question; could we have dealt with it in a better way?’
Finally, Bristol Rovers manager Paul Trollope was surprisingly calm and complimentary towards Crewe after a wasted journey. Trollope and his staff walked the pitch earlier in the afternoon and felt it was playable, but again someone else questions if the club did everything to get the game on.
Speaking to bristolrovers.co.uk, Trollope said:
‘I visited the ground, with the staff, at 2.00pm this afternoon and we were happy then that the game could go ahead. There were bits of ice on the pitch, which was being cleared by the groundstaff, and it seemed to have broken up.
‘However when we arrived back at the ground at 6.00pm and the ice had ‘knitted back’ together and, we feel, made the playing surface dangerous. They hadn’t really cleared it from the pitch as we thought they would through he afternoon so, after a long journey up, we have obviously been disappointed.
‘I think both sides wanted the game to go ahead, and Crewe made every effort they could to get it on but, unfortunately, the weather and the circumstances have taken over.’
I think the recurring theme through all this is the fact Crewe Alexandra FC failed to clear the pitch of the remaining snow, which then turned to ice. The referee warned the grounds staff early enough for them to clear the pitch but they failed to act.
I think everyone who saw the pitch prior to 6pm assumed the ice or snow was going to be removed through the day, but in the end the ground staff simply moved it about the pitch instead – hoping to ‘break it up’.
It’s an embarrassment for the club. There is no doubt the game could have gone ahead if their brains had kicked into gear early enough. It seems likely the referee will now put the blame on the club at the Football League, leaving club open to a possible fine.
There has to be some serious action taken over this. Whether it’s simply a change in attitude or a purchase of a heated cover, or undersoil heating, it’ll be needed. The club and John Bowler can’t carry on with their blinkered way of thinking.
Postponed games are costing too much. From possible Football League fines right down to having to play three games a week for the rest of the season in a relegation battle. Not to mention the amount money fans wasted attempting to make yesterday’s game after a 9:30am pitch inspection assured them it was going ahead.
But why do I get the feeling this will be brushed under the carpet, and come the next frozen pitch there’ll be ‘nothing we could do’ once more.
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