Pitching up for action, we received a frosty reception

By Danny Caro, January 7, 2010

I’m not sure how many people it needs to carry out a pitch inspection in professional football but I counted 25 at Bricket Wood last weekend.

This was Sunday morning amateur football at its best. North London Raiders A’s match against Red Sea was cancelled on Saturday night, after Shabbat had gone out, as the Seacats were unable to raise a team. News had also reached our secretary, Jonny Blain, who is also our top-scorer, that Southgate Harmen’s match against North West Neasden B had fallen victim to the cold snap.

With both teams keen to play, we hastily rearranged our match. Arriving at the ground at 9.25am, I joined Jonny Shapiro and Blain on the pitch. Players from both teams and referee Laurie Benson soon joined us and started umming and arring. With grass crunching underfoot, Benson was the only man brave enough to muster a jog to test the surface. He had serious doubts and said it was too firm to kick-off for our scheduled 10.30am start.

Both penalty areas were rock hard although Neasden joint-manager Sammy Carr said that it was good enough to pass the key test. The only problem, as I pointed out, was that we were there to play football, not cricket.

As it dawned that no game would take place at Bricket Wood, we offered Neasden our home 3g pitch in Uxbridge. While the majority of their squad seemed happy to play, one or two did not. Neasden defender Jason Bookbinder, whom I had introduced to MSFL football many moons ago, came over and we reminisced about the good old days when men were men and were happy to play football whatever the weather.

With players leaving in dribs and drabs, we phoned Montana and Oakwood, whose match had also just been called off, to see if they would travel to Uxbridge. Montana turned down our offer as they had booked a five-a-side match while Oakwood refused as some players decided to go to Old Trafford to watch the FA Cup clash between Manchester United and Leeds. They probably wish they hadn’t!

As predicted here, the JC MSFL will start introducing double-headers as off this weekend. Four are scheduled to take place on Sunday, including the one involving my side, North London Raiders A.

Match of the day, weather permitting of course, comes in the JC League Cup where former winners London Maccabi Lions A host Redbridge Jewish Care.

There’s a top of the table clash in Division Two where North London Raiders B host Southgate Harmen B.

Two players have suffered serious injuries in recent weeks. Zig Zag goalkeeper Jon Tiller has announced his retirement after suffering a fractured tibia and tearing his cruciate after catching his studs in the turf.

UJS Norstar A’s Daniel Gilbert suffered a broken ankle in the cup defeat against North West Neasden A. A scan revealed that he had been playing with another break that had been present all season. Manager Phil Peters said: “It’s probably season ending but almost definitely not career-threatening as was first thought.”

Happy 65th birthday to Stuart Lustigman, the founder and Chairman of the Masters League. And congratulations to my mum, Marion, on completing 20 years as a volunteer at Jewish Care.

Last updated: 2:10pm, January 7 2010