Will it never end?: Bad weather causing serious fixture backlog with more rain forecast (From Falmouth Packet)
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Will it never end?: Bad weather causing serious fixture backlog with more rain forecast
An incredible 270 South West Peninsula League matches have been postponed this season because of bad weather, and with more rain forecast for the weekend league secretary Phil Hiscox, says he expects that number to increase.
Last Saturday only three fixtures across both the premier division and division one west went ahead as scheduled, with Falmouth Town, Penryn Athletic, Helston Athletic and Porthleven's games all called off as heavy rain fell on already-saturated pitches.
It's been much the same story every weekend since the turn of the year, and the resulting fixture backlog means some teams may be forced to play three games a week in order to catch up.
As a consequence there are fears that some of the league’s smaller squads could be stretched to breaking point as injuries and suspensions take their toll.
“Back in the Autumn it wasn't looking so bad,” said Hiscox. “Most teams were on schedule. It was certainly nothing we wouldn’t expect.
“By December 14 we’d had 112 games cancelled, with most sides having played 18 games. Since then we've had another 158 called off. So here we are at the beginning of February and some of those teams haven't played since.
“I've never known it as consistently bad as this. Over the years there’s always been a Saturday in the winter where the weather's not so bad and we've been able to get games on, but we haven't had a dry weekend at all.
“Last Saturday was the seventh on the trot we've had cancellations, and the eighth in the last nine I've been sat at my computer on Saturday morning updating the fixtures. I can see it happening this weekend too. You do wonder when it’s all going to end.”
Despite the incessant rain, Falmouth Town have managed to play several matches, as have Porthleven.
But Helston and Penryn have not fared so well.
Sid Taylor's Blues side have not played a competitive match since their Boxing Day victory over local rivals Porthleven, and saw their clash with league leaders Mousehole called off at the weekend when the pitch at Kellaway Park failed an inspection.
“It’s going to cause huge problems for teams,” said Taylor. “With the backlog the way it is at the moment you're going to get some teams who will really struggle.
“Some players won't be able to make early evening kick offs because of work commitments, and teams will be depending on having a big squad, which luckily we’ve got. It’s definitely going to be a struggle."
Falmouth Town manager John Dent echoed Taylor’s sentiments.
Although Town have managed to dodge the worst of the weather and fulfil some of their recent fixtures, for a team fighting for its life at the bottom of the table, having such a disrupted schedule can be damaging.
“We’ve not done too badly, but it’s going to cause problems without a doubt,” he said. “It's not ideal but what can you do?”
As league secretary Hiscox has the unenviable responsibility for re-scheduling cancelled matches.
And he admits the task is becoming increasingly difficult as spare weekends are swallowed up.
“There are two choices at the moment,” he said. “One is to cram the fixture list with clubs playing more midweek games than they want to, and the other is to extend the season a bit which we have some scope to do.
“We usually finish with the Throgmorton Cup final, which this year is the second Sunday in May but we may have to look at using the Bank Holidays up to May 10, which I suspect is what will happen.
“All we can do is keep rearranging games and hope for the best,” he added. "I share the players’ frustration, and I know the clubs are frustrated but there’s not much we can do apart from hope for the best."
Meanwhile the rain keeps falling.
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