Cup games in ﬁxture log-jam
Cold play: This was the scene at many grounds across London
The JC Cyril Anekstein Cup has been put on hold after the cold snap forced all but one scheduled match in Jewish football to be postponed last weekend.
For the first time in 46 years, the entire MSFL programme featuring 24 league and cup matches was wiped out with pitches deemed unfit as a result of the snow, frozen surfaces and waterlogging.
Having recently cancelled the JC Barry Goldstein Trophy, Maccabi League chairman David Wolff voiced his concerns: “Our priority is to get matches involving teams at the top and bottoms of the league completed so that all title, promotion and relegation issues are sorted out fairly. We will plod on and have to look at the situation on a weekly basis.
“Double-headers are a priority and we encourage teams to get matches played on third generation pitches and midweek. They must also be prepared to play at other times of the day, not just on Sunday mornings.”
Wolff, who has been with the league since 1963, recalled that in season 2000/01, the league management committee was forced to cancel the League Cup. He said: “It started raining in September and did not stop until February. We don’t want to have to do this again unless our hand is really forced.”
Nigel Burns, Maccabi League fixtures secretary, said: “The atrocious weather has caused endless problems. A lot of extra work is caused as the cancelled games have to be re-allocated to another date. This has been made much easier as I have managed to computerise the fixtures with dedicated software.
“A decision on the future of this season’s competitions will be decided if and when the weather clears up, but the priority has to be the league games. Clubs will have to find pitches to play their games on, as there are just not enough Sunday’s left.”
Elsewhere, five matches were called off in the Maccabi Masters League along with 16 in the AJY and seven in the Maccabi Primary League. The Manchester Jewish Soccer League (MJSL) schedule was also halted.
Maccabi Primary League fixture secretary Ben Shooter said: “It’s been very frustrating from my point of view as conditions have gone from bad to worse. After weeks of waterlogged pitches in October and November, we now can’t even see the pitches thanks to the worst snow in 20 years.
“The Under 11s have played barely more than half their league games which means with the Challenge and National Cups still to complete, we may struggle to finish all the fixtures unless the weather dramatically improves.”
AJY secretary Louise Dorling said: “It has to be one of the worst seasons to my knowledge and I have been around football a long time. Our cup final pitches have been booked and paid for some time ago, so cups will get preference but the leagues are suffering badly and without a doubt some matches will not get played.
“The situation is not helped by the Carling Cup final on March 1 that will also ensure teams are not available to play, Pesach, and then school and national exams.
“It’s safe to state that unless pitch providers extend their seasons well into May and we as a league could then agree to extend our season, then some leagues will not finish.” The Maccabi Masters League are in a better position but David Goldberg, fixtures secretary of the Maccabi Masters League, shares the concerns: “Originally I thought we would complete the season quite comfortably.
“Thankfully, we have the use of the 3G pitches which will help us, but even they were called off because of the unsafe nature of the ground.
“The main priority is to get the cup games played as we have the final already booked.”
The one match to beat the weather, courtesy of an underground drainage system at JFS in Kenton, saw Hendon Hawks Under 14s beat Kenton Maccabi 8-2 in the AJY League.
Six second-half goals saw the Hawks home with Joshua Shaffer (3), Rafi Levin (2), Reuven Haddad (2) and Guy Gubbay on target. Tom Hirst and Michael Rosenthal struck for Kenton.