Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Meat In the Sandwich

So much to write about this week.

Firstly, it was a very good result for the team last Saturday, some decent football played and, as ever, a storming performance by the lads and lassies in the Scaffold.  What could be better? I have liked the look of Warren Mfutu ever since he came into the team and congratulate him on his hat trick.  A good player indeed.


After the game I did tweet that I was pleased that people had decided to give Vince's Bar a wide berth.  This again shows solidarity by the fans, which is something I may return to in my next missive.


However, first things first.


I have just seen that our away game with Newham FC next Saturday is to be played at Broxbourne Borough FC in Goffs Oak, Cheshunt.  This will cause a lot of inconvenience for both sets of players, a considerable extra expense and one wonders why this is happening. Couldn't more help not be given to Newham FC who must be finding themselves under a lot of financial, and other pressures, due to the apparent disqualification of the Terence McMillan Stadium from being an acceptable venue for Essex Senior League matches.


I have no doubt that the Newham officials made every effort to find an acceptable ground as near as possible to the locality of the teams.  The Old Spotted Dog would have been first choice and the best possible alternative venue.  The problem might have been that Vince McBean's sub-tenants, London Bari, have a match to play on Saturday afternoon, but what about an earlier kick off for the Newham match?  As recently as 27th September a double header was played at the Old Spotted Dog when Newham kicked off at 1pm  against Waltham Forest and the Tons followed them with the match against Bowers and Pitsea at 3pm.  If a similar arrangement was made for this Saturday it would ensure a bumper crowd, which can only help Newham FC in their difficult position.  It would also save supporters a lot of money and expense in their being able to follow their team.  


So why wasn't the game allowed to take place at the Dog before the Bari match?  I cannot imagine Vince objecting.  I assume that he pays petrol money to players to get to away games and a match at the Dog would save him that expense* (see below).  There is also an opportunity to sell stuff in the bar and a ground rental fee from Newham FC.  One reason might be that due to the wet weather, the pitch might not be up to two games being played on it.  A look at the forecast will show that, save for a possibility of rain on Thursday afternoon, there is no rain forecast for East London until Sunday.  Coupled with Vince's 'drainage' and the roller there is a very good chance that the double header could have easily taken place.

But this idiocy has precedent.  I remember Clapton having to play an Isthmian League match in August at Barton Rovers FC (Bedfordshire) because their floodlights had fallen below the required lux value.  Unless there was to be an eclipse of the sun in Forest Gate that afternoon, there was no possibility of the ground falling into darkness and bringing about an abandonment.  As ever, the administrators (who can usually count on free tea and sandwiches) made a decisions that adversely effect the clubs and their supporters.

I cannot imagine Bari objecting.  Let's face it, if they wanted to play on a decent pitch they would not have ground shared at the Old Spotted Dog in the first place.

However, if Saturday was not possible, why not re-schedule it for the following Thursday at the Dog?  There is a better chance of getting a decent crowd, which would soften the blow to Newham's finances, and there would be less expenditure and inconvenience for everyone.


One of the issues that spring to mind here is as that very little is known about the objections to the McMillan and very little is being done to help Newham FC who I know to be a group of decent football loving people.  If there are problems with the McMillan then the league or the FA should be open about it.  Rumours are, that the 'failings' of the stadium include



  •  non paying spectators can view the game from positions on the premises.
    • Has anyone been to Southend Manor recently or even Tower Hamlets? Perhaps it depends on your vision. Incidentally, the free tea and sandwiches brigade certainly don't pay to get in, they watch the match and they are the arbiters of this?
  • no signs around the seating. No lines delineating standing areas.  No ticket booth.
    • The average attendance at Newham /London Apsa's home matches last season was 29.  The highest attendance was 50 and the lowest 8 (eight).  Is this really a serious concern?
This whole issue is ridiculous and the FA, and the rest of the free tea and sandwich brigade, who chirp on about how they are promoting 'grassroots' football ought to devote their efforts in helping Newham FC rather than plunging them further into further logistical and financial problems.

The application of bit of common sense would be a good place to start.


In the meantime, we supporters all have to troop off to Cheshunt for Saturday's match and whilst I am sure that all the die-hards will be there, it feels as if the interests of the supporter are not being given any consideration whatsoever.  In effect, due to the lack of openness and common sense, we are the meat in the sandwich.


When the Isthmian League was formed, the officers of the League were members of the participating clubs.  Sadly, control of football has now been handed over to administrators who, on the evidence of this situation, are clearly not acting in the interest of the clubs or the supporters.  Its up to the clubs to wrest back control but I doubt whether any of the clubs have the bottle to stand up against them.


In the meantime, my best wishes and sympathies go to Newham FC and I look forward to a good game on Saturday.  What a shame it's not at the Dog.  What an opportunity missed.


Tea and sandwiches anyone?


*ADDENDUM
My assumption was incorrect.  Vince McBean does not pay expenses or petrol for away matches.

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