Premier Division Bafana Bafana have become the fourth team to fold this season, with player-manager Adam Gishen reluctantly pulling out the MSFL side because he was “struggling to field a team”.
The club, which finished seventh last year, were lying second bottom with a win and draw from six games. And Gishen admitted this week: “It’s stopped being fun.”
He said: “This season we’ve paid hundreds of pounds in fines. We forget a corner flag, or kick-off five minutes late, and we get a fine. Someone wears the wrong sock, a fine. I’m disappointed with the way those things are handled. ”
The decision to quit the league came late last week, with only “seven or eight players committed to playing every week,” he said. “Early on in the season people wanted to play so we decided we’d compete for one more year.
“Unfortunately, we struggled to field a team once some players returned to university in October. I spoke to the league chairman David Woolf a month ago and we decided to see how things went. The problem was that whilst we have seven or eight regulars, we can’t reliably get any more players.
“I’m disappointed we’ve dropped out of the league, but at least this way there’s not more upheaval. There’s only six games played so it’s better we drop out now than later on.”
Bafana Bafana, who were already scratched from the Cyril Anekstein Cup and fined £60 for cancelling a match against Oakwood, join North West Neasden C, AC Cricklewood and South Manx B in dropping out of the league in recent weeks, leaving the JC MSFL with 51 teams.
Bafana Bafana, who won the Division One title in season 2006/07 and were former finalists of the Barry Goldstein Trophy, are the first top-flight team to fold since Hillgar Athletic in 2007.
Woolf insisted: “rules are the rules” concerning fines, but added: “I’m not terribly down about it as I think it was a bit ambitious of them to start the campaign. It will be helpful to us with the fixture backlog.
“We seem to have had an unusually high number of teams drop out this season, and although this flows with the national trend, I really do not want to see the league slowly evaporate.
“It’s likely that just one team will be relegated from this year’s Premier Division, with two going up from Division One as normal.”
If, as expected, Bafana Bafana’s results are chalked off, it plays into the hands of Hendon United A, who suffered a 2-1 defeat at their hands in what manager David Garbacz described as their “worst performance of the season”.
He said: “I’m obviously disappointed for them and the competition as a whole, but for us this is a late Chanukah present, as our defeat will be wiped off.”