"In my time playing football I've had matches abandoned twice and they were for two different reasons. First was a time when weather forced the abandonment. We had absolutely horrendous and torrential rain in the days before the game and also in the morning leading up to the game. We were playing away, and it was one of the worst journeys we would have to make in our league, but travelled all the way to the ground with it still raining, thinking there’s no way this game will be on. When we got there, the ref was still happy with the pitch so we carried on as usual but still thinking this shouldn’t be on. We went out to warm up...still raining...warm up complete...still raining! By the time we finished warming up, the pitch was drenched and there was surface water all over the place.
The referee still said 'game on' though, so we go back inside to get ready for the game, and as we come out for kick off the rain has eased off for the first time, but the surface water is still prominent. We kick off though and play for 8 MINUTES before the ref calls it off, when he should have clearly called it off at 1.30 at the latest. If the pitch had been good enough to kick off with, it had to be good enough to carry on playing on now. The rain had got easier in that time not worse! Instead of using a bit of common sense to make the right decision at any one of the opportunities he could have used earlier, the referee acted like his mind was made up this game had to be played no matter what, right up until he abandoned the game 8 minutes in. To say we were angry was an understatement especially as we ended up wasting most of that Saturday, knew we had to make that long journey there again in mid-week taking the time off work and all that goes with that, and then topped it off by losing the re-arranged game 1-0!
The other game I played in which was abandoned, got called off when after only a short time had passed in the match, two and a half floodlights failed, as well as the safety lights in the stands. The referee tried to play on, which I think everyone would have wanted to, but it was nearly impossible to see the ball or the other end of the pitch! We somehow also managed to concede a goal in the darkness so fair play to the lad who scored. Guess he is one of those boys who must eat all his carrots!! In this case there wasn’t a lot that anyone could have done about it unless there was a sparky in the crowd who could sort out the lights, but again the replayed game was midweek and we lost that one too!
Not sure what it is with me and abandoned / rearranged games, but it’s fair to say they haven’t worked out well for me so when I heard about the recent abandoned game between Wingate & Finchley and Thurrock, I was interested to see how this one ended up. Firstly to have FIVE players sent off in a game was amazing, but to have them all sent off from one side?! I had never before even heard of that happening at any level of football let alone been involved in a game like that. It's kind of like an urban myth of football to have a game abandoned because of the number of players sent off. Most players know about the rule but don’t pay too much attention to it because it’s something no one thinks is ever going to happen…until now!
If I was playing for the side that was having their players given their marching orders, I must admit I'd find it hard to keep my cool and composure. I've never received a red card in my career so am proud of my discipline, and always feel let down by teammates who lose it at the drop of a hat. They don’t think of the predicament they put their teammates in once they trudge off the pitch, and many don’t seem to care. Even if they do apologise to the boys afterwards, usually there is an excuse or reason they always give with it to water down the apology, when the bottom line is a lack of discipline has let the rest of the boys down. I know that not all bookings / sending offs can be easily avoided, but from what I hear some of the bookings in this game were a bit dubious.
Rumours have flown around after the game that some of the players got sent off on purpose to deliberately get the game abandoned!! The only people who would know if that is true or not are those in the Wingate dressing room, but the fact these rumours have been started shows just how shocked by what happened everyone was! If there is any truth to these rumours though then the people involved would have hit some kind of new low!
Whether the rumours are true or not, I would love to know what was said in the changing room after. What do you say to each other after something like that? Over the years I've found out first hand that there are some players prepared to do things most others wouldn’t, but this? In all the reports I read, the game was described as not being a dirty one, so that just leaves me scratching my head even more.
In fairness to Wingate & Finchley though, they came out pretty quickly after the game and did all the right things as a club and accepted the decisions made with no fuss. They did genuinely seem to be embarrassed and in shock at what happened. I can only imagine it would take some doing to make that kind of collective decision and get it out to players to carry it out, so it seems very unlikely it was deliberate. What a game it must have been though, but for all the wrong reasons!
On the flip side if I was a Thurrock player, I'd be finding it hard believe what I’m seeing. If me and my teammates were having lumps kicked out of us that meant five players had to be sent off, it would be hard to stay calm. If it was a case of real ill-discipline to disrupt the game and spoil it as a contest, I would want the referee and their manager to do something about it. I’m there to play football, not be part of a sideshow because too many players have lost their head, or have planned something so shocking between them!
Knowing they were winning the game 1-0 as well and possibly being aware that a certain amount of players being sent off would mean an abandonment, surely that would play on your mind and thinking it’s a massive case of what if they are pulling a fast one? I know it would really get into my head. I was glad to see Thurrock awarded the three points especially as 85 minutes of the game had already been played. Regardless of whether it was a deliberate ploy or not, Wingate had all but lost the game anyway and there is no way they should have been allowed another crack at it. Imagine being a Thurrock player, being forced to replay the game, travelling all the way to Wingate on a midweek night from Essex, and then losing! Or does that only happen to me…."