By L Hammond
Following the cancellation of this weekend’s fixture against Sandal, once table topping Huddersfield have now gone a month without action.
This winter has officially been announced the wettest in past the century and that fact has not been lost at Lockwood Park, where the pitch has understandably suffered.
Although last weekend saw the clouds and part and conducive Rugby conditions return to Lockwood, Huddersfield’s fixture against Sandal was still cancelled.
The decision to cancel a fixture on the day of play, when kick-off is imminent falls down to the two captains. Even if a pitch is playable, if one captain says to the referee before the match “I don’t fancy it”, that’s it, game over, everyone goes home.
As it happened on the day, Huddersfield’s Nick Sharpe and the captain of Sandal, convened with the referee before the fixture. With Huddersfield willing to play and Sandal seemingly not, the fixture was cancelled.
First Team Manager Lee Paxman cannot understand the decision not play the fixture and places blame at Sandal’s feet: “The pitch was safe and there is no reason a game could not have been played. Yes it is very muddy and heavy but there is no standing water, it was well rolled and sanded so there were no safety concerns at all on our part”.
To ensure the pitch was safe to play, Paxman made the short journey over local rivals Huddersfield YMCA who were hosting Alnwick to collect the League Secretary. The Secretary is also chairman of Alnwick and a former grounds man himself.
After a detailed pitch inspection by the Secretary was conducted and the pitch deemed playable, all that was left was for the fixture to be played but according to Paxman the decision to cancel the match had already been made: “The Sandal Captain (Kilfoyle) refused to play it was a decision between him and the head coach. Other Sandal players were ready to play and happy to play.”
So what this means for Huddersfield is the addition of another game to an already extended fixture pile up which also includes missed games against Rossendale and Percy Park.
A fixture back log at any point of the season is less than beneficial but with league honours soon to be decided Manager Paxman believe this couldn’t have come at a worse time: “We feel this has hurt our title challenge and but us at a massive disadvantage. We feel the Laws need to change and if the referee feels the pitch is fine then the captain should not get a choice to cancel. We will be following this up with the leagues”.
So as Huddersfield seek to amend laws which has seemingly been abused to disadvantage a winning side, the league season rumbles on. With the possibility of playing mid-week as well competing in the usual the Saturday clashes to clear the backlog, if Huddersfield are looking to prove they are the best team in the league, they will surely be made to work for it.