DISGRUNTLED Bognor and their fans reflected on a wasted trip to Kingstonian and asked: Why on earth couldn’t it have been avoided?
The team, staff and around 60 supporters were first made to wait until nearly 5pm for a pitch inspection to be held and the match declared on, giving them only just enough time to get to the Kingsmeadow ground in south London.
Then – minutes before the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off – the match referee decided the pitch was unfit and had to be called off, leaving Bognor fuming.
Fans had their admission money refunded but no other costs returned, and are calling for discounted entrance to the rearranged game – and want Ryman League bosses to investigate the farce.
Kingstonian officials, when asked by the Observer, apologised to those who’d had a wasted journey but said they could not do anything about the weather.
Fan Dave Robinson said the on-off saga and the timings of decisions made showed ‘little respect’ for the fans. He added: “If there was concern for the pich in the first place why did they pass it fit? Any idiot could have told you that the condition were not going to impove – the temperature was dropping rapidly.
“While Kingtonian gave an immediate refund on entrance and programmes, little concern is given to travelling costs of the fans. What would be a nice gesture is for Kingstonian to offer discounted tickets when the game is eventually rearranged. However we all know that won’t happen and the true fans are the ones out of pocket yet again.”
Adam Goldring was among those who made the trip and said he was upset no Ks officials apologised as fans left the ground. He said the only person showing concern was the turnstile operator organising refunds.
Supporters’ club representative Ian Guppy called on the Ryman League to investigate the sorry saga.
Rocks officials told the Observer they were told by Kingstonian that AFC Wimbledon – whose ground it is – had not done any work on the pitch since their match on Saturday and it was badly cut up and frozen.
A pitch inspection was called for 4pm but the official doing it was held up and it was not done until around 4.45pm.
Bognor bosses arrived at 6.40pm and expressed concern about the state of the pitch with the temperature by now down to zero. The match referee checked it twice and was becoming concerned – but not until another look at 7.40pm did he call it off.
Rocks manager Jamie Howell said: “It’s difficult, because it’s not fair to blame any one person. But if you know your pitch and know how it is going to be in plummeting temperatures, you need to apply common-sense and get a game called off.
“A lot of people went to great effort to get to the game and needn’t have. At 7pm I could forsee a farce of a game.”
Kingstonian co-chairman Malcolm Winwright told the Observer the first inspection was done by a local referee, escorted by him. “I had already walked the pitch with a director of AFC Wimbledon and their groundsman. Everyone agreed it was perfectly playable,” said Winwright.
“Of course there were concerns (about conditions worsening) but the forecast indicated a dip in temperatures would not occur until much later in the evening. Indeed the match referee didn’t call off the match until just before kick-off, well after the players had warmed up.”
Winwright said there was one part of the pitch that tended to get worse-affected than the rest but at 5pm the whole surface was playable and at kick-off time the whole pitch had started to freeze.
The Observer asked Kingstonian if they would like to apologise to fans (of both teams) who made the trip and Winwright replied: “Of course we are sorry for the players officials and supporters of both sides. But we cannot control the effects of weather.”