BADSHOT LEA were left bemused when their Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup quarter-final was postponed on Tuesday night – less than an hour before the start.
The Baggies players were there, the Hanworth Villa players were present, fans were turning up – and then the officials called it off as the rain continued to fall.
Baggies’ co-manager Gavin Smith said he was shocked by the decision.
“We were all here, including the opposition which I felt really bad about. I know their manager Simon Haughney really well and we talk quite a lot, and I phoned him in the morning to tell him not to worry and that the game would definitely be on.
“I went to the ground at 4.30pm and thought there would need to be a monsoon for the game to be off – there was nothing wrong with the pitch.
“For some reason, when the officials arrived there were a couple of areas they were not happy with and they called it off.
“I couldn’t believe it. The pitch was as good as it could be and I don’t think it would have got any worse. It doesn’t hold water – as soon as the match had started it would have been fine. I was shocked.
“I’ve played in a lot worse and I’ve seen a lot worse – Camberley’s pitch for the match against Jersey Bulls for one.
“I couldn’t get my head around it.”
The Baggies were in confident mood after victories against Balham and Cobham.
Smith said: “Balham is always a difficult place to go. The traffic was dreadful – it took me two hours to get there and I was the last to arrive, so it was all a bit rushed.
“We were good in the first half but couldn’t get the second goal to make it safe.
“On Saturday we beat Cobham 4-1 and I felt we were the dominant side.
“We went 2-0 up and then gifted them a goal with a mix-up. In the last 20 or 25 minutes we looked a lot fitter and we went on to win it quite comfortably.
“The lads deserve credit for how we are faring. We had a little blip around Christmas when we didn’t win games, although we lost only one – and if we carry on to the end of the season like we are now, we will be really disappointed with that blip.
“But there are a lot of games to play this season and a lot could happen.
“We have good players. Perhaps in terms of money we are punching above our weight, but I’m not sure that comes into it if you have players who are good enough and want to compete.
“I’ve looked at some of the draws we have had and in none of them have I thought we were lucky to draw. We haven’t had a game where someone has battered us and we’ve been lucky to draw.
“The players are good enough to win this league if we stick together and have a little more experience.
“Keeping our players could be the difficulty, though, as other clubs will be keen on some of them. And as much as we want players to progress and play at a higher level, we want the club to progress too.”
The Baggies travel to Sheerwater on Saturday, and have another Combined Counties Premier Division South match on Tuesday when they make the trip to leaders Beckenham.