It is frustrating that this year’s College League Competition has been so badly affected by weather. A number of mouth-watering fixtures have been called off with little possibility of being played unless the competition is extended well into the Christmas holidays. It is incredibly disappointing, especially as the league was building up to a tense climax.
My own disappointment will be nothing in comparison to that of Alcuin captain Miles McDermott, for whom each cancelled round signifies a blow to his team’s chances of taking the title.
Yet to criticise York Sport’s maintenance of the pitches is a cheap shot and entirely without substance. In the past few weeks, the north of England has experienced weather that has managed to submerge the entire town of Cockermouth and bring the Ouse’s water level to somewhere in the middle of the Lowther. To complain about cancelled football amongst all of this is a little unreasonable.
The hard work of groundsmen on the 22 Acres has been defended by York Sport and you have to feel sympathy for them. Watford, my local football team, had a Premiership football game against Wigan cancelled two years ago after the pitch at Vicarage Road became waterlogged. If it happens in the Premiership, it’s likely to happen in the College Football League.
It is true that the university first team suffer fewer cancellations than the college teams and there is no denying that some pitches on the field are of better quality than others. Yet last Wednesday every BUCS fixture on the 22 Acres was cancelled, the pitches so bad that even Lacrosse could not be played. Again we can’t blame the groundsmen. It’s just a fact of life when living in England.
There is definitely an issue regarding the organisation of the College League, especially considering this problem seems to occur every year. It is perhaps too ambitious to expect that games will be played every weekend throughout the first two terms, when pitches are most likely to suffer from rain and the February freeze. Perhaps one official league should be played over the first two terms, allowing more time for cancelled fixtures to be replayed. Is this really necessary though? Derwent captain Dom Henney has said that although the first term’s league winner is usually the team that is luckiest with cancellations, the competition is not devalued. It’s just something that the players have to deal with.
With BUCS fixtures it could be more of a problem and last year the annual competition with York St. John, Varsity, was cancelled due to games having to be rescheduled. That was a real shame and it should be ensured that it does not happen again, by scheduling Varsity for a weekend or the summer term – possibly as a warm up for Roses?
As for now, we need to just accept that the weather is one of those things that can not be predicted or controlled. And with the coldest temperatures not even setting in yet, there will be many more cancellations on the way.