Hastings United ready to play after the snow, visitors cry off

After the week’s wintry weather Hastings United were frustrated in their efforts to play their Bostik League match against Reigate-based South Park last Saturday. Helped by an overnight thaw and morning sun, groundsman Simon Rudkin
had done wonders to get the pitch at Pilot Field playable. Moreover, a small army of volunteers had turned out to shovel the entrances, walkways  and standing areas clear of lingering snow and ice.  The referee was satisfied that all was in order.  But the prospective visitors declined to travel.  The matter was referred to the league, who accepted that travel difficulties were sufficient ‘health and safety’ considerations for postponing the game and called it off.

Privately, the United directors and supporters, particularly those who laboured in vain half the morning in order to make the game playable, will have felt pretty miffed. The traffic on the motorway and trunk roads between Reigate and Hastings moved freely throughout the day: and in fact games were played at both Worthing and Folkestone, with their respective opponents coming from further distances.  The suspicion must be that South Park had released their players earlier on the assumption that the game would not take place, or else that key players were unavailable anyway and the management preferred to postpone to a future day when they expect to be able to put out a stronger team. That’s a tactic well known to park clubs up and down the country.  It’s a pity to have to suspect that it happens on semi-pro circuits too.

However, United’s official club response seems to have been a dignified silence.  There is nothing to be gained after the event from arguing that the league authorities were wrong to allow health and safety concerns to trump common-sense.  The players diverted to an impromptu friendly match at Eastbourne Sports Park while manager Chris Agutter conserved his energies for next season’s team-building, which is already under way on the basis that this year’s team no longer has any realistic prospect of qualifying for the promotion play-offs. Two of the fans’ favourites from this season, winger Dayshonne Golding and goalkeeper Charlie Horlock, have already signed contracts for next year. Chris is hoping that many more current players will sign up in the coming weeks, though he is also promising some further recruits to add to the squad.


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