Outrage as game is called off a third time

By David Gold, February 4, 2011
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Pitch battle: Captains from both sides look on as Leeds boss Ian Selwyn (centre) argues with Fraser Saville

Pitch battle: Captains from both sides look on as Leeds boss Ian Selwyn (centre) argues with Fraser Saville

Players and officials from Leeds Maccabi have expressed anger after their scheduled Peter Morrison Trophy tie against Haroldeans was postponed for the third time.

Bad weather resulted in the first two attempts to play the match being called off in advance. But having made the 90-minute journey to Liverpool, the Leeds contingent were left fuming after the pitch at the Childwall Sports Centre was deemed unplayable, with parts of the playing surface frozen and rutted.

Ian Selywn, the manager of Leeds, believes that the inspection should have been carried out earlier. Instead, the breakdown in communications left red faces all round.

"The decision to postpone was correct," Selwyn said.

"I wholeheartedly agree that the pitch was unplayable because the surface was unsafe for the players whose safety is paramount.

"But I feel that we could have avoided the hassle if they had not waited until 10.30am to inspect the pitch. The disappointing thing was communication rather than the game being off." Leeds suggested moving the match on to one of the surrounding junior pitches, which were in better condition, but Haroldeans refused. Paul Rose, secretary of the MJSL, said that, had the two clubs played on a junior pitch, the game would have been void and have to be replayed.

There was an agreement in place for the match to take place in Manchester if the pitch in Liverpool was unplayable. However, Rose confirmed that this would have only happened if the game was called off the day before the game had Haroldeans inspected the pitch earlier, and asked questions about the home side's preparations.

"In no way was it intended that if Leeds travelled to Liverpool, that if there was a cancellation both teams would move to Manchester, unless it was postponed on the Saturday.

"You cannot expect a team to travel one and half hours to find out that a game is cancelled. One has to ask, why wasn't an inspection carried out earlier?"

Haroldeans' Fraser Saville insisted that the match was not in doubt on the Saturday and that he was as shocked as anyone to discover the pitch was frozen.

"It was a very big surprise. Saturday night was fine. We were there and wanted to play. One team member gave up working on Sunday morning so that he could play at great cost to him but we wanted to play this game. Unfortunately these things happen.

The game is rescheduled for this Sunday again in Liverpool, though it has also been confirmed that if the pitch there is unplayable for any reason, the match will go ahead in Leeds.

Saville insists that Leeds will be told prior to leaving Leeds on Sunday next week if there are problems.

"I hope it will go ahead and spoken to and make sure I'm informed before they travel."

Last updated: 9:54am, February 4 2011