Lack of rain in Herne Bay causes postponement - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Sunday 09th July 2006

Kent Leaguers Herne Bay are making arrangements with Nationwide Conference South club Lewes to re-arrange their pre-season friendly, which was scheduled for yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.

The match was originally called off last Monday after the Winch’s Field pitch had undergone major works during the close season, re-turfing the goal areas and centre circle.

The new turf has taken but the surface is very uneven and rock hard without any significant rain in the Garden of England.

John Bathurst, the chairman of Herne Bay, explained in and EXCLUSIVE interview with their situation.

“On Monday the club decided, as the weather forecast was for no significant rainfall, that the Lewes game should not go ahead.”

This website learnt of the postponement with just 63 minutes to go before the intended kick off, thus thinking the game had just been postponed on the day of the game.

But the game was already postponed in advance, meaning Margate’s 1-1 draw against a young Millwall side was the only game played in the county yesterday.

“We spoke to referee Gary Johnson, advising him of the situation and it was agreed that the best option was to call the game off,” said Mr Bathurst.

“Lewes were contacted explaining that the playing surface was probably more dangerous than playing on a frozen pitch in February and it was mutually agreed to postpone the fixture.

“Arrangements are in hand for this fixture to be played in midweek later in the month.

“It was agree that there was no point in playing a pre-season friendly on a surface where players could be easily injured.”

Owing to the water restrictions introduced by the Mid Kent Water Co. the club were not able to water their pitch using sprinklers. In fact all watering has been carried out by hand.

Mr Bathurst said: “The issue of hose pipe bans is understandable. Why should recreational facilities not be subjected to a hose pipe ban when the general public, who spend fortunes of their own money on plants to make their gardens look nice, be forced to allow their plants to be neglected of water.

“There can be no argument for amateur sports clubs to be allowed to water their playing surfaces where there is a water shortage affecting the rest of the region.”

Mr Bathurst admitted there “has been a total mix-up” between Herne Bay and Nationwide Conference South outfit Welling United over their pre-season date.

He explained: “Welling thought our game was to be played on 15th July and not the 22nd.

“Herne Bay had already arranged Andy Sinton’s Fleet Town for this date. Welling United have accepted this and will now play Herne Bay on Monday, 17th July. This being the only midweek fixture arranged.”

Herne Bay’s game on Saturday, 5th August against Neil Cugley’s Folkestone Invicta will be to contest the “Titch” Willett Trophy.

Members of the Willett family will present momento’s to all players as this will be the tenth anniversary of Eddie “Titch” Willett’s death.

The FA Cup draw a couple of days ago has not been very kind to Jason Lillis’ men.

An extra preliminary round clash against Kent League rivals Erith & Belvedere could be followed by a return visit to Didcot Town.

Mr Bathurst bemoaned: “We fail to understand how, with 180 teams in the competition, we manage to draw Didcot away again for the third successive FA competition - are the numbers pre-arranged?”