You can't ask semi-professional footballers to take two days off work to go and play a Step Five football match, says baffled Beckenham Town assistant manager Billy Walton

Thursday 10th March 2022

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton wants the Combined Counties League to find some middle ground when it comes to the crucial game in Jersey next month.

The Springfield Stadium clash has been arranged for Wednesday 6 April at 19:45 and Beckenham officials have asked for an afternoon kick-off so that their players can fly home on the same day and only have one day off work.

“We’ve laid out all of our reasons why we want to play, we want to play Jersey,” said Walton.

“The League has got to end on the 23rd of April and they’re asking us to go over there on a Wednesday, so they’re asking people to take time off work, which is fine.

“What they’ve now said to us is that we can’t get a flight back until the next morning, so which case people have got to take two days off work, now that can’t be acceptable.

“A lot of people have got certain jobs in the building trade and they’re going to lose two days money and in these times of what’s going on in the world they can’t afford to lose their money, they’ve got to work.

“We’ve offered to play them at an earlier time, we’ll go there at an earlier time, which they’ve declined. They can’t get their pitch that early. Well, we’ll play you somewhere else in Jersey.

“Whatever we’ve asked them and what’s baffling to me, me personally, not the club, this is not Beckenham, this is me speaking, what’s baffling me is that Jersey get asked for an one o’clock kick off and we accommodated them and they’ve never kicked off at three o’clock because they get their flights and then they turn round and say you might fly out from Gatwick and on the Thursday morning, you might fly back to Luton.

“Hold on a minute! Have we signed up for this?  Why are they asking us to go there midweek?

“You can’t ask semi-professional footballers, men, to have two days off work to go and play a Step Five football match!

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. We have to wait and see but these people that make decisions, you’d think they’d see it logistically?

“What else if we don’t fly home on the Thursday and we get up for the 07:30am flight and we have to be at the airport at 05:30am and it’s fogged off because Jersey gets quite a lot of fog and we have to stay the next day, so that’s three days off work so you lose another days money. It's ludicrous!

“We’ll go out there, we’ll play you in Jersey on another pitch at three o’clock and we can get the 7:30pm flight home and we’ll be home at ten o’clock at night.

“It’s not Beckenham Town’s fault that you can’t get the pitch that you play on because you rent it out to people. That’s not our fault.

“I’m baffled by the whole thing. I’m really baffled. I don’t see what else Beckenham Town can do?.”

Walton & Hersham are top of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South table with 65 points on the board with 10 games remaining.

Beckenham Town – who were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Badshot Lea on Tuesday night – are in second-place, a point behind with two games in hand.

Jersey Bulls are in third-place and are four points behind Jason Huntley’s men but with a game in hand, while Badshot Lea are in fourth-place with three points fewer than Jersey, having played two games more.

Walton claimed: “Most of the people that go to Jersey, most of the teams, apart from the top three or four that are challenging them, most of the teams go out there because it gets paid. The hotel gets paid and it’s a night out on the town.  They don’t care about the result. They just go and play them.  I think Jersey have been well looked after, that’s my opinion”

A Beckenham Town statement said: “The club are in discussions with both the Combined Counties League and Jersey Bulls with regards the exact time and venue of our away league fixture on 6 April 2022.

“This is due to the logistical implications of the proposed Wednesday 19:45 kick-off.  The last flight back departs before full-time.”

The Eden Park Avenue club have warned their fans not to book flights until receiving confirmation of when the game takes place.

Huntley’s men beat Jersey Bulls 1-0 on the opening day of the season, which kicked off at one o’clock on the last Saturday in July.

Beckenham Town welcome bottom-of-the-table side Molesey to Eden Park Avenue on Saturday, kicking off at 15:00.