Weather wreaking havoc for county football

The flooded football pitches on Pitchcroft, Worcester.
Pic Jonathan Barry 31.1.14  051451101 (3751494)

The flooded football pitches on Pitchcroft, Worcester. Pic Jonathan Barry 31.1.14 051451101 (3751494)

First published in Sport

AMATEUR football in Worcester is facing yet another weekend washout as rain continues to batter the county.

This weekend is the sixth in a row that Worcester City Council have issued a blanket closure of all their pitches, something which is unprecedented.

Grounds at Pitchcroft, Brickfields, Cornmeadow Lane, Shap Drive, Northwick Lodge and Diglis are again out of action following the wettest January in more than 100 years.

It has wreaked havoc for Saturday and Sunday teams in Worcestershire with nearly 200 Worcester and District League and cup matches postponed due to waterlogged pitches.

Although the league still expect to finish the season on time in May, clubs are now facing a fixture backlog to cram their games in, meaning they will have to play matches on week nights.

"I have never known it like this," said league secretary Tim Phillips. “Since Christmas, we’ve only been able to play 12 matches in all competitions and we have had to postpone 183 games due to waterlogged pitches.

“There will definitely have to be evening games in April, but the season is still scheduled to finish on May 18.

“At this time, there are no plans to ask the Worcestershire Football Association for an extension. However, if the disruption due to the bad weather continues, we may have to revisit that."

It is a similar tale in Malvern with Lower Howsell Road, Dukes Meadow and Victoria Park, which are run by Malvern Town Council, all closed due to the weather today.

However, referees will be left to make the call tomorrow.

Teams who play on private pitches are not affected by the closures but being advised to use common sense when it comes to deciding whether to play matches.

With more rain forecast for next week, they have been asked to consider the long-term problems of further damaging waterlogged surfaces.

Phillips said: "People want to play but what we don't want to do is ruin pitches by getting a game on and wrecking it for the next six weeks. We want to get the grass ready."

The Worcester and District League has one Saturday division and six on a Sunday, comprising 80 teams from both the Worcester and Malvern areas.

Matches in the Birdseye Sports Evesham Sunday League and Kidderminster and District League have also been hit by the elements.

However, they have been able to play more fixtures than their Worcester counterparts.

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