FOOTBALL: Oxfordshire clubs struggling to keep heads above water

Banbury United's flooded Spencer Stadium earlier this month

Banbury United's flooded Spencer Stadium earlier this month

First published in Headlines Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Non League Football. Call me on 01865 425488

NORTH Leigh chairman Pete King has expressed his frustration at the chaos caused by the torrential rain to the club’s Calor League fixtures.

King, who has been at the helm for more than 20 years, says the bad weather means they haven’t played since last month when they recorded a 2-1 home win against Bishops Cleeve in Division 1 South & West.

And like most clubs in Oxfordshire, the postponements are hitting them hard in the pocket.

“I haven’t pulled a pint (in the clubhouse) since January 21,” said King.

“It’s affecting takings at the bar. Some clubs are able to keep their bar open all day, but we have to rely on the trade we get on a matchday. “Ours is only open on matchdays. I’m fed up with it. It’s very frustrating and demoralising.”

Last week, just to add to their worries, Friday’s high winds caused one of the floodlights to spin around and face a field next to their Eynsham Park ground. Because the area was so soft, it meant that it was difficult to get equipment on to fix the lights.

King said the club had carried out extensive work on the drainage system over the years to solve the problem of waterlogged pitches.

He added: “We always have the drains done every year, but the volume of water has been so great that they haven’t been able to cope. “The water table is so high that any extra rain makes it flood.

“Last year, the problem was snow, which meant we played hardly any games in January, so there’s always something happening.”

Premier Division side Banbury United are also feeling the effects of the extraordinary weather, with their Spencer Stadium pitch completely flooded for the scheduled visit of Biggleswade Town 11 days ago.

Boss Edwin Stein said: “We’re not getting the money through the gate and it’s really having a massive effect, but we are managing to get through it.

“Kim Dumbleton (club chairman) and the other directors have to be given a lot of credit.

“They have stepped up to the plate and stuck by their word.

“It’s not been good and we’re going to have to play a lot of midweek games. A lot of teams are going to be busy for the next two months.”

Oxford City are also feeling the pinch, with both their senior teams having lost several home games.

City Nomads, who also play their Uhlsport Hellenic League fixtures at Marsh Lane, have been hit – their Oxfordshire Senior Cup third-round tie against Ardley United postponed no fewer than seven times. That is due to go ahead tonight – weather permitting.

City’s first-team manager Mike Ford said the club’s artificial pitch was proving invaluable, not only as a source of revenue, but as a way of keeping the players in tip-top condition.

He said: “We’re definitely being hit by the call-offs, because we have not got people paying their £11 to see our games. But thankfully, the 3G keeps us going.

“There is going to be a backlog of fixtures, but we had to do it last season.”

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