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Murphy depressed by backlog

Greensnet Editor
Mon 22 Jan 2001, 10:00

Although hopeful of staging their Ryman League match against Hendon on the evening before, Croydon were left helpless when Friday night's snow fell on top of the freezing Croydon Arena pitch and didn't allow the ground to thaw out for Saturday's game. The referee came in to inspect the pitch and had no alternative but to call the game off, a situation that was identical at almost every non-leaguie ground in the south-east of England.

A few games did survive the bad weather, but for the first time in his memory, Hendon boss Frank Murphy didn't go looking for a match when he had the opportunity. "I am not going near a football match today," he said, describing his state of mind as worse than depressed and frustrated. "I'm going to see my family instead.

"I am sick of watching football matches when Hendon are postponed - normally I go to matches to watch what our future opponents are doing, but there is little point today because by the time we play these teams they will have changed personnel or formation.

"The thaw is due to come soon, then it will probably start raining again. I have never known anything like this."

Mr Murphy added, "The way the fixtures have panned out, I was looking forward to getting through our home games and then having 3 consecutive away games in the League, and now all of them have been postponed."

The Enfield and Croydon matches fell foul of the freeze, Purfleet was called off because of Hendon's Middlesex Cup replay at Wembley, scheduled for Tuesday night.

"The way things are going, we will be playing our League matches in August. At this moment we are not quite at filling every midweek until the end of the season, but it only needs a couple more postponements - or cup victories - and we will be playing 3 games a week. I bet you we will have more postponements before the end of the season."

The reserves followed the lead of the first team and also had their match postponed. The game against Thame United in the Suburban League Premier Division never stood a chance of going ahead once the frost got into the LOOT Stadium pitch. The shadow cast by the main stand meant that frozen, rutted areas didn't thaw out following Monday night's first team fixture against Wembley and the groundstaff were left helpless.

The fixture pile-up for manager Alan Rolnick is certainly as bad as the first team's, but the gap between League fixtures for the Reserves is incredible. The last time Hendon Reserves played in the Suburban League was on Saturday 4 November. Saturday 20 January was 11 weeks (77 days) later. That gap is only 30 days less than the gap between games from the end of last season and the start of this one (which was 1 week later than the Ryman League kick-off).

Amazingly given the length of the team's lack of action, they remain in the top 4 in the Suburban League Premier Division.

Hendon's senior teams' problems, however, are as nothing compared to the chaos ensuing in the Harrow Youth League, where Hendon field 4 teams. On Sunday all of the teams' games were postponed.

Last season, Hendon's youngest squad (Under-13s - now Under-14s) had but two League matches left to play in the League by the 2nd weekend in January. Now the youngest squad, also Under-13s, have played just 6 games and have another 16 to go; the Under-16s have played just 5 and have 15 more remaining, while the other two, Under-14s and Under-15s, respectively, are in a similar position.

What makes the youth teams' plight more urgent is that pitches they use in Clitterhouse Playing Fields are only available until the first week of April, after which the goalposts are taken down. In addition, the Harrow Youth League limits all teams to a 20-boy squad and has a registration/transfer deadline of 28 February.