Footballers and supporters are on standby for an FA Vase tie between Worksop Town and Tadcaster Albion that could kick-off any time this week.
The game, at Tadcaster’s ground in the John Smith brewery, was scheduled to take place on Saturday, but a seriously flooded pitch forced its postponement.
Instead of rearranging the match far enough in the future to let the water – which then froze – subside, it was slated for tonight.
That in turn meant the rescheduling of Wednesday’s already-twice-postponed Bassetlaw derby between Worksop and Retford - a game that was going to be used to benefit a local charity.
And this afternoon Tadcaster, who intimated yesterday that the pitch was highly unlikely to be ready by tonight, have tweeted the FA’s latest directive.
The Brewers’ official account said: “The FA have ordered our tie vs @worksoptownfc to be played either Tonight, Tomorrow, Thurs or next Tues. Not looking good for next few days!”
A pitch inspection will take place today at 3.45pm today, but the FA’s apparent determination to get it played this week could play havoc with the working lives of players who almost all have jobs, and need the permission of their employers to finish early and travel to Tadcaster.
Another club has already admitted they’ll be forced to simply withdraw from the Vase this week because too few of their players can get out of work for a hastily arranged midweek date.
Then consider Worksop supporters, who are known for travelling in numbers, and the fact that a lack of away fans will hit both clubs in the pocket.
Vase games see the gate receipts shared between the clubs, after expenses, but such short notice will mean fewer supporters, home and away, can attend.
A fan-funded club like Worksop can scarcely afford to be booking coaches for three consecutive nights, and then paying whatever late cancellation charge they’ll inevitably be hit with.
And if it is played this week, expect the pitch to take considerable damage.
The situation is certainly not boosting Tadcaster coffers as it is, without having to deal with a ploughed field for the rest of December and beyond.
They’ll also have to have their stewarding team and volunteers on constant standby, to ensure the game can be managed.
Someone at the FA must surely know that there has been trouble when these two teams have met in recent weeks - so a haphazard arrangement is ill-advised.
The FA rules may state that postponed Vase games must be played by the Thursday after the initial date – but by providing next Tuesday as an option the authorities are already conceding that their rule may not be met in this instance.
So why not announce today that the game will be played on Saturday - giving everyone involved time to prepare?
Worksop boss Mark Shaw is at a loss: “I think the FA are being unfair, what do they expect Tadcaster to do when the river has burst?
“Surely the game should be played Saturday if it is called off tonight, then Tuesday next week if it’s off then?
“Do the FA think players, supporters and officials have nothing better to do than put the world on hold until the fixture is played?”
A picture Tadcaster tweeted this week showed a dead fish that had been pumped off the surface along with the river water.
Shaw believes there’s a case for switching the game to Sandy Lane, if Tadcaster’s pitch just isn’t fit for football.
“Why not make the game reversed, and play it at Worksop? Tadcaster surely won’t mind that, they’ve won their last two games in Worksop.”