Even the old Oxford English can't describe this shambles
PUBLISHED: 13:39 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:39 03 May 2019
It's a long way from the top to the bottom of the food chain, but bear with me as I try to share the experience of everyone connected in any way to King's Lynn Town Football Club this week.
To give you a flavour of what is to come, I will quote the club's affable media officer, Mark Hearle.
When I asked him how he'd some up this most bizarre of weeks, he replied: “Diabolical, shambles - any words like, just take you pick, they all apply.”
In a nutshell, Lynn are playing Stratford Town in a play-off semi-final on Saturday afternoon at The Walks (3pm). It should have been played last Wednesday, but out of the blue Stratford revealed they were being investigated for playing an ineligible player. Inquiry opened, details hardly forthcoming, game postponed. Which meant the other semi-final, out of fairness, also had to be postponed.
Then the fun began. Would Stratford be pushed out of the play-off spot with a points punishment? And when would the game be played? And could Stourbridge host Alvechurch at the same time in their semi?
The game moved from Wednesday, to Friday, to Monday, to Sunday and then to Saturday afternoon. Which is where it stayed - although the other teams can't play theirs until Monday which, in a strange change of fortune, actually favours this afternoon's winners.
The play-off final will now be next Wednesday, not Bank Holiday Monday. And for someone like me who absolutely detests the whole concept of play-offs in any sport, comes the added kick in the goolies - the play-off final winners then have a 'super final' against their Northern Premier League counterparts. Away. Next Saturday. With two less days to prepare because South Shields and Warrington contest their play-off final on Monday.
See what Mark Hearle meant about liberal use of the Queen's English?
I have never known anything like it, but to put it into context, I have placed myself at the end of the aforementioned food chain. On several occasions I have had to rearrange my lfie, and that of several colleagues, at least three photographers, and a lot of page planners and designers. There's also the not inconsiderable matter of having to withdraw from a family curry night at one of East Anglia's finest eateries, in Spalding. A day off with my wife has gone, next day's roster is reshuffled.
And this is at the bottom of the food chain.
Imagine if Lynn get through today and Wednesday, they will have two days to prepare for the super final (what a ridiculous title that has turned out to be). They would travel on Friday so that leaves Thursday to rest. Or go to work to pay the bills.
One absolute idiot on social media said it shouldn't matter because players often played this number of games in a short space of time and after all, it happens in World Cups. Forgetting that these are p rt-timers, with jobs and lives.
I digress (I mentioned it because it shows how this situation has thrown up chaos).
Anyway, the players didn't know if they were coming or going. Manager Ian Culverhouse is a very clever footballign man, but he will surely never have taken a Wednesday training session not knowing which day the next game was, and who'd they'd be lining up against. You cannot prepare for a big match in that way.
Still at the top of the food chain we have the club - owner Stephen Cleeve was livid this week. And rightly so. There is the prospect of losing a lot of money – and football clubs gobble up enough of that already. Fans in two minds may just have decided to bin it off as a bad thing. It's a holiday weekend as well – arrangements have to be made and this football match suddenly went to the back of the queue. Then there's matchday staff, catering, security =- a million things that you and I take for granted.
The food chain is extremely long but everyone along it has been poorly treated by the worst sporting cock-up I have ever seen.
I did at one stage think that Stratford, having caused the absolute mayhem, should have done the right thing and withdrawn from the play-offs. I hate the idea of that, because it is not the fault of the players or their fans. But I hate the idea that Lynn have been so badly treated, through no fault of their own.
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But Stratford flagged up the issue a long time ago so it is the suits who could have done an awful lot more: simply by docking them four points as they did to another team for the same offence. That would have kept them in the same league position and the same involvement in the play-offs. But the suits dragged their feet and chaos followed.
It has been truly appalling.
Get well soon, Dale
Good to hear King's Lynn Stars manager Dale Allitt is on the mend.
Allitt did such a brilliant job last season in as the Stars topped the league and were KO Cup finalists, but he has been forced to miss the start of this season with illness.
“I suffered a virus which had an impact on the brain,” he explained. “It's been very hard for me to deal with at times, I only bought a new car in February and I've only done 70 miles in it! Basically I cannot do anything stressful, like managing a speedway team! Pete (Schroeck) is doing a great job and I thank him for what he's doing at King's Lynn. I want to come along and watch the boys, hopefully I will crop up at King's Lynn at some stage but that doesn't mean I'm ready to come back. Speedway is pretty low in my list of priorities right now, my health is first and foremost what I have to get right.”
Too right. Speedway is a cracking, supportive community and many fans have sent their wishes. I add mine and hope Dale gets well soon.
I sort of get where some people are coming from in the Caster Semenya case - and it is not a place I wish to be.
The South African runner has effectively been told to take performing-reducing drugs because the natural gift she was born with is proving too much for her rivals.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport have upheld the IAAF's rules that Semenya and other female runners who, like her, have unusually high testosterone levels, must take medication to reduce the levels of the male sex hormone. Semenya appealed, the Court rejected it.
I wasn't born with Usain Bolt's legs, or Teemu Pukki's feet, or Tim Krul's hands, which is why I write about these things rather than participate in them. Remember the cyclist Miguel Indurain? Had a resting heart rate of 28 beats a minute. Born with it. Natural. He was a brilliant cyclist, but I don't recall anyone challenging what nature gave him and asking him to correct it.
The IAAF have pulled off a shocker here. Horrible.