Dereham left fuming after wasted Vase trip
Ian Clarke Dereham Town players and dozens of fans were left frustrated and disappointed after Saturday's FA Vase trip to Larkhall Athletic was called off. A waterlogged pitch was blamed for the postponement and the Magpies will face the long trip back to Bath next Saturday.
Dereham Town players and dozens of fans were left frustrated and disappointed after Saturday's FA Vase trip to Larkhall Athletic was called off.
A waterlogged pitch was blamed for the postponement and the Magpies will face the long trip back to Bath next Saturday.
A coachload of players, officials and supporters had travelled down to Swindon on Friday and stayed overnight and were preparing to make the 40-minute journey to Larkhall when news came through of the call-off.
A supporters' coach had left Dereham's Aldiss Park at 7.30am on Saturday and about 10 car loads of fans were also travelling and they all had to be contacted to be told of the postponement and turn back.
Dereham's assistant manager Neal Simmons had done a double shift at work in Norwich and was on a train at Reading when he was told.
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A local referee made the decision to postpone the game at about 10am and a Larkhall official rang Dereham secretary Ray Bayles to tell him.
No-one from Dereham was given the chance to see the pitch or discuss whether it would be worth waiting to see if conditions improved. The news shocked the Dereham contingent - especially as the weather was fine in Swindon.
Dereham manager Matty Henman said: "We are obviously really frustrated. It seems very strange as we are down here and there was no real benefit in calling it off at 10am and there could have been four or five hours of drying time.
"There was no dialogue and no communication between the two clubs and we just got a call saying the game was off.
"Yesterday they said the pitch was on the heavy side of good and there were no indications the game was in doubt."
Henman added: "Everyone was together and there was a good bond between the lads and we were eager to get there and looking forward to it. We will need to get it out of our system and we might take out the frustration on them next week."
Simmons works for a health care company in Norwich and was due to be working today to do stock taking.
So he did a normal day shift on Friday and then worked into the night before getting a 7am train from Norwich to Liverpool Street station and then went round to Paddington before heading out towards Swindon, where he was meeting the rest of the squad.
"We are really disappointed and I thought it was a wind up at first," he said. "Everyone has been watching the weather down here all week and it has not seemed too bad at all."
The one good piece of news for Simmons is that he isn't working next Saturday so won't face another sleepless night.
The club will have to decide whether the players travel down again on Friday or face a very early start on Saturday.
A statement on Larkhall's website said: "Today's FA Vase 4th round tie with Dereham Town is off due to the extremely heavy overnight rain leaving large areas of surface water.
"The game will now be played next Saturday."
The re-arranged fixture will cause further scheduling headaches for Dereham, who face another long trip tomorrow to Stanway in the league cup.