It certainly isn’t over yet

As it comes towards the end of January the National League title race is turning into a mad sprint to the finish. With so many games postponed in the last six weeks there is such an imbalance in games played that the lead and positions underneath top spot are changing on such a regular basis.

I’ve long tipped Chesterfield to win it, the goals of Kabongo Tshimanga vital to the charge and with the addition this week of Joe Quigley from Yeovil alongside the return from injury of Akwasi Asante there is enough firepower there. Having dealt with an injury crisis that at one stage numbered 12 first team players, the only concern is turning draws into wins, indeed they are the draw specialists in the division so far this year but are on top of the tree on goal difference.

That tip is under big threat from no less than six teams, that’s how tight the league is this year as clubs clamour to get out of non-league and into the Football League before the salary cap hits next season.

Question is who do you fancy? Halifax Town are really putting the cat amongst the pigeons. No disrespect to the Yorkshire outfit but they weren’t at all mentioned in the pre-season predictions and I remember Pete Wild the Town boss bemoaning the amount of money in some clubs that his couldn’t compete with, but he’s almost swallowed his own words and shown they can mix it.

Maidenhead managed to account for losses for the top two sides inside the last seven days showing this league isn’t as easy as sometimes thought to escape from.

Having watched Stockport not really get out of second gear to get past Dagenham in the evening kick off on Saturday, they are serious contenders. Seven wins in a row and Dave Challinor has County purring, they are really putting the heat on others now and clearly shows they were right to dispense with the services of Simon Rusk and lure last season’s play-off winning manager back into non-league.

Bromley like Halifax have gone a little under the radar but are still in the thick of things despite an unsettling week with interest from Gillingham in boss Andy Woodman. It’s no secret he expects to be managing in the Football League sooner rather than later but can he do it with the Ravens instead of the Gills? There is a possibility they could face each other in League Two next season, lots would need to come together for that to happen.

Boreham Wood are nine games unbeaten and haven’t lost a league game since mid-October, they have most to gain with games in hand in the top seven. Like Chesterfield, Wood need to convert more draws into wins and if those two games in hand are won Wood will sit top of the table.

Wrexham have hauled themselves back into contention and it’s maybe a surprise they haven’t made good use of the transfer window although eight or nine days left to still strengthen. Their home form has to be stronger in order to keep up their challenge, winning on the road seems to come easy.

Notts County occupy the final play-off spot at present and with games in hand as well. A five match unbeaten run has kept them in touch with the play-off pack and like the others winning those games can put them at the summit it really is that tight at the moment.

There are two or three clubs just outside at the moment that will still feel they have a chance of getting in there but the remainder beyond that will need a Stockport type of run and in effect longer than seven games won or a massive drop in form for about four or five clubs.

Whilst the Daggers looked out of sorts against Stockport they’re not out of the picture by any means the only thing going against them at the moment is having played more games than the top seven bar Halifax. If Solihull Moors can find some consistency again then they can challenge for a spot while Grimsby somehow need to turn their form back to the early months of the season or they will be looking at a mid-table finish at best.

There are a few tasty games coming up over the next three weeks alone, Halifax vs Boreham Wood, Bromley vs Notts County, Halifax vs Bromley and Stockport vs Chesterfield stick out, it’s certainly something you can’t take your eyes off for a minute.

Rebels too strong for Rocks once again

Tuesday night and another midweek game despite it being the middle of January and pretty freezing cold down on the South Coast. Part 3 of ‘El Classicoast’, Bognor vs Worthing this time in the Sussex Senior Cup Quarter Final with both sides having won in each other backyard’s during the two league fixtures.

With the hosts marooned almost in mid-table a win for them against their table topping neighbours would keep their season alive whilst a win for Worthing would keep their hunt for silverware intact.

Worthing boss Adam Hinshelwood chose to give a few first team starters a breather whilst Rocks Robbie Blake fielded a decent strength side on what was crisp, cold night at Nyewood Lane.

An impeccable minute’s silence was observed by both sets of fans after the passing a few days ago of Hinshelwood’s father Paul before both sides settled down to another 90 minutes of derby football.

Reece Meekums should have given the Rebels an early lead after cutting inside the defender but blazing high and wide when well placed. Dajon Golding who was a constant thorn in the Bognor defence down the left hand side clipped the bar just after a quarter of and hour and the same player also could have given Worthing the lead but like Meekums blazed well over.

With Bognor struggling to maintain possession for long enough Worthing were trying both wings to create chances but they took the lead five minutes before half time through a midfield burst from Marvin Armstrong whose shot was followed up by Will Seager for the game’s opening goal.

Five minutes the other side of half time the hosts should have been level but Nathan Odokonyero fired wide of Harrison Male’s goal. A triple change after the hour mark from Hinshelwood saw Danny Barker, Ollie Pearce and Jessie Starkey replace Seager, Darren Budd and Dean Cox to try and force a second goal to seal the tie.

Male was called into action with 15 minutes to go, Jordy Mongoy’s effort well saved by the Rebels shot stopper and the closest the hosts came to forcing an equaliser.

Golding thought he had given Worthing a two goal cushion six minutes from time having broken beyond the Bognor back line but his effort struck the far post and away from a Rebels foot to turn the ball in.

With more attacking threat on the pitch Worthing attacked at will, breaking fast with incisive passing and got their final reward in stoppage time when Jasper Pattenden strode forward, won a challenge and motored into the penalty area and unbelievably arrowed the ball over the head of six foot plus keeper Amadou Tangara into his top right hand corner to seal the win and a place in the semi-finals for Worthing.

A crowd of 842 was on hand to witness a win that almost puts the end to Bognor’s season, currently 13 points behind 4th placed Kingstonian with a game in hand but too many draws over the course of the campaign so far leaves them needing a run of wins that look highly unlikely speaking to one or two Bognor fans on Wednesday morning.

Whilst there appears no danger of being sucked into the relegation fight, a change of personnel needs to happen if the Rocks are to challenge at the top end of the table consistently.

Attention for Worthing now turns to the title challenge they hope to sew up as soon as possible, a six point lead over nearest rivals Enfield Town with a game in hand although Folkestone Invicta with a couple of games further back than everything else can be a big threat.

Final word on the Pattenden goal, was it a shot or was it a cross? I was almost in line with it and that looked like a cross, other footage I’ve seen makes it look more like a shot, make your own mind up if you see it!

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Goal fest at The Lashmar

It certainly feels like at the moment that when it comes to games to attend you need a back up on artificial surfaces in case the grass efforts are washed out by the increasingly poor weather we’re suffering at the moment.

There were around six or so games I could have taken in on Tuesday evening, but in the end decided the ten minute journey there and back was the winner, East Preston and Littlehampton Town in a Southern Combination Premier Division local derby.

Both sides certainly have contrasting fortunes this season, EP struggling once again at the bottom end of the table but still just about in touch with the sides above them whilst Town are in the thick of a title race and the 4th round of the FA Vase.

With the previous scheduled encounter postponed just after New Year due to the weather there was a little doubt this one might go the same way but on a very sticky and wet pitch the game went ahead.

Town were on the attack right from the off, still attempting their slick passing game despite the conditions and they took the lead within a minute of the game starting, Lucas Pattenden who was a constant thorn in the side of EP tore down the right hand side and crossed for George Gaskin to slot home the opening goal.

Not quite the start the home side wanted and just ten minutes later Town added a second, Joe Benn having made a good run past the EP defence but forced a little wide and with no incoming support the Golds top scorer shot from an acute angle and made it 2-0 to the visitors.

At that point, the thought crossed the mind of how many Littlehampton were going to rattle in but fair play to EP who went straight up the other end and Charlie Robinson reduced the deficit with a firm header from a corner past James Binfield.

Despite leading the goal seemed to make Littlehampton a little more cautious but EP struggled to maintain possession and Shane Brazil cut a lonely furrow up front against the Town back three.

The visitors should have added to their scoreline two or three times, Dion Jarvis hitting the post and Kurt Jenna-Swain called into action to save from Gaskin and Benn, Town at times trying to too hard to break through the middle of the defence when their best efforts were coming from Pattenden and Jarvis down the flanks.

Town did score again just after the half hour mark; Tom Biggs’ lovely drop of the shoulder took him past three EP defenders and slotted past Jenna-Swain for the visitors third of the evening and with it a commanding half time lead.

What transpired in the second half wasn’t quite what I was expecting! Only six minutes into the half and any hope of an EP fightback was put to bed very quickly. Benn notched his second and Town’s fourth six minutes into the second half from a Jarvis run and cross, the goal giving the striker 50 for the season so far.

Just a minute later Benn completed yet another hat-trick having dug the ball out from under his feet and firing past Jenna-Swain for 5-1. You might think that with the game won Town would have taken their foot off the gas and just almost toyed with their opponents, but no none of that!

Less than ten minutes into the half and Benn scored again, this time an overhead kick from six yards out from a Pattenden cross gave Jenna-Swain no chance, a fourth goal for the striker and six for the visitors.

Gaskin made it seven as the hour mark ticked by from a Biggs pull back, three minutes following that goal the eighth arrived again from Benn, no let up from the constant peppering of the EP defence despite the points being very much in the bag.

Substitute Steve Herbert then got in on the act on 74 minutes, flicking home a Dave Herbert corner with his first touch six yards out. Once again the visitors had scored twice in two minutes, Benn completing a remarkable double hat-trick and double figures for Littlehampton with still 15 minutes left to play.

Unbelievably Benn scored again with seven minutes to play, this one a flicked header from a corner for his seventh of the game, which I believe is a record for him personally and Herbert wrapped it up just before the final whistle blew with his second of the game and a mad twelfth goal for the visitors.

I have to say I was expecting Littlehampton to score a few given the way they have blown sides away this season so far, but to get 12 and for Benn to notch seven of those is pretty remarkable.

Credit to EP who didn’t turn the game into one where they could have resorted to kicking their visitors up in the air given the frustrating scoreline, but that’s not in their nature at all.

The win takes Littlehampton back to the top of the table on goal difference and with three games in hand over their nearest rivals Saltdean Utd. Mitch Hand and Gaskin are using the squad rotation well and it doesn’t matter what eleven start the game you always feel there are goals in there from somewhere.

55 goals in total this season for Benn now and we’re still not quite in the middle of January the question now is what will be the final figure for the talented frontman?

Attention for Town now turns to the FA Vase 4th round and a trip to Athletic Newham on Saturday whilst EP must pick themselves up as they head to Broadbridge Heath in the league.

Referee’s need help or do they?

Referee’s, their assistants and the whole man or woman in black or whatever colour they like to wear these days has always been a contentious issue. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t but why does it appear that while the game has moved on tremendously those in control of the game on the pitch appear to be lagging behind?

My late dad was a referee at County League kind of level in the 60’s and when I played youth football in the late 80’s he took it up again then for a few years before hanging up his whistle. Whilst playing I also served on a junior league committee and of course there were reports of abandoned games and incidents where referee’s had suffered not just verbal abuse, thankfully though not too often.

Granted the latter were few and far between and we haven’t seen that happen in regular occurrences in the non-league game. But it never made me want to pick up a whistle and join that side of the game and it still doesn’t now.

As I stated above the game has moved on with its millions but those needing control on the pitch seem to have been left behind to find their own way to be better. It’s hard to watch when you see other sports finding ways to eradicate mistakes.

After all we’re all human and there is a margin for error that simulation can take away. Cricket and tennis both used video to get decisions right that the naked eye wasn’t able to decipher, rugby miked up their referee’s to explain decisions and also used video evidence to back themselves up and the NFL have forever used the same rugby method.

All sport is worth money and it’s too much to get these decisions wrong in today’s technological age. You can argue though that these sports aren’t as fast paced as our beautiful game and that’s where VAR became a chore within the game. This season it has been more refined but still throws up the odd borderline decision which means the system still needs a revision.

But what of the men and women still in the thick of the action? There appears to be quite a difference in quality as you move up to the National League itself. Now these officials have all progressed through the leagues below and only yesterday I was re-tweeting from a couple of people how good their referee was on Saturday afternoon, refreshing to see.

On the flip side of that coin was in the National League itself where once again decisions didn’t go the way they maybe should have done. This season I’ve seen games from the National League down to Step 7 and the better ones are definitely underneath the top division, but is it because they’re stifled in the way they referee and also run the line?

How much feedback do they get on their performance, good or bad? The fact they know the days they’re being assessed is wrong, I know back in the day you didn’t know until they popped their head round the door of the changing room after the game, that’s how it should be.

One gripe of mine is the way they are treated by players in the top flight, mike them up and no game would be shown before the 9pm watershed! That filters down all the way to the bottom with these players being role models, you don’t see a single rugby nor NFL player going to berate a match official so why should it be happening in our game?

Maybe if that respect was there, if referee’s were allowed to control the game with a degree of common sense then we wouldn’t see so many social media posts saying another one has had a shocker. One referee I know well at County League level was pushed around a couple of weeks back, thankfully there was no bad damage inflicted on him but at a time when there is a shortage of the men and women in black the game should be doing more for them, not burying their heads in the sand and bumbling along.

I know some people reading will say respect works both ways and I agree it does, the game at all levels is worth money to all and these decisions need to be right and they should be provided with all the tools to get a decent performance out, not too much to ask is it?

Food and football the combination at Hungerford Town

The last day of the festive period saw another Bank Holiday and finally gave me the chance to get to Hungerford Town in the National League South. A while back last year someone posted a picture of the burger served up at Bulpit Lane, courtesy of @FootyScran on Twitter. It looked the business and something I thought I needed to get there and try.

Not long after that I became aware of their fantastic offering ‘4 for a score’ which comprised of match entry, matchday programme, either burger, pie or sausage with chips and a pint or soft drink from the bar. Now if that wasn’t excellent value I’m not sure what is!

I had a brief Twitter chat with the Crusaders chairman Patrick Chambers to see if the offer had seen a rise in their attendances and sure enough they had seen an increase in numbers from pre-covid times which is encouraging, I promised him I would get to a game and this was finally the one.

Patrick actually looks after the scheme mentioned above on the gate, could I imagine Barnet Chairman Tony Kleanthous personally welcoming supporters into the Legends Bar at The Hive, certainly not! It’s a nice touch at this level too, not often will you see that happening. A token for your food and drink and a matchday programme in my back pocket and off I went in search for the burger.

Patrick’s wife Nicky serves the food whilst doubling up as the Commercial Manager, it’s that kind of club. As soon as I said who I was to both of them instant recognition, some nice words and a warm welcome what we like perfectly about non-league.

The burger lived up to its reputation, so much I had a second one at half time! I make no apologies for adding the picture below, certainly a big winner for me and it made my Twitter page ping for a good while after.

But it’s not just the food that’s getting rave reviews. On the pitch Danny Robinson’s team are competing very well with sides around them who have much bigger budgets. I was also looking to see Ryan Seager in action, scorer of a good amount of goals so far this season.

The ground itself, the classic non-league looking one which was just what I wanted to be seeing, but with plenty of seats and covered standing for all. The game itself began at a very frantic pace and to be honest it didn’t let up for the majority of the 90 minutes.

The home side drew first blood inside ten minutes, Sol Wanjau-Smith was upended in the box, Ryan Seager’s penalty flew past Alan Julian for the opening goal.

Both sides then traded possession but still at a good pace to the game before Town upped the ante again. Just before the half hour mark Wanjau-Smith broke clear of the visitors defence and looked set to double the lead but shot over as the defenders did just enough to put the striker off his stride.

The other side of the half hour mark brought the best out in Julian, a curling shot from Seager looked to have found its way over the head of the stopper into the top corner but at the last minute a fingertip save kept the scoreline down to one goal.

There was one more chance before the interval for Seager to add his and Hungerford’s second, but he shot straight at Julian, a single goal lead for the hosts going into half time.

There wasn’t long to wait for the second goal, just six minutes into the half Wanjau-Smith danced his way into the box and crashed a shot against the bar, the ball fell kindly to Seager right in front of goal and he nodded home for his and the home side’s lead to double.

The points were secured on 64 minutes, Rhys Tyler letting fly from 20 yards giving Julian not a sniff of the shot and a comfortable 3-0 lead for Hungerford. Seager did have the ball in the net ten minutes later but was denied his hat-trick by the offside flag.

There was one final chance for the home side to put the icing on the cake four minutes from time but neither Seager nor substitute Nana Kyei could get on the end of Matt Jones’ cross, but three points and three goals for Hungerford to end the festive period of games.

The win puts Town back into the play-off places and in amongst illustrious company too, given the budgets generated by the support levels of some. Hampton never really got going in the game and the early goal against I think knocked their game plan from the off.

Seager certainly looked hungry for goals after a little lean spell while Wanjau-Smith was a willing runner alongside him until his substitution. Keith Emmerson marshalled the back four well that Luke Cairney only had a single save to make all game.

Certainly not an easy game for Tonbridge this coming weekend as the Crusaders make the trip to Kent, they hustle and get very tight waiting to pounce on the mistake.

The Chambers have a lovely club here and hopefully the support continues to grow throughout the season, 496 were here to watch this one, it’s well worth a visit for the food, but just as much for the football.

One final word on referee Jason Richardson, brilliant performance in the middle explaining his decisions if questioned and generally talking to the players on the same level, some of his contemporaries higher up could do with taking notice of this.

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Uninspiring draw opens the new year

Extra Bank Holidays also means extra games of football or just the same amount spread over more days! 2022 was to kick off with a derby as Boreham Wood took on Barnet for the third time this season.

With Wood winning both the FA Cup and Trophy ties already this season, the Bees would have looked at this one as surely the one to turn the tide and finally get one over their local rivals.

It was the first game for both since that Trophy game at The Hive on 18th December, a covid ravaged Christmas for a majority of the National League and both these sides had their fair share as well.

On a damp Sunday afternoon in Hertfordshire but on a decent playing surface, Bees boss Dean Brennan went with both strikers in Adam Marriott and Mason Bloomfield, something that hasn’t been seen too often this season and in trying to match up against Wood’s formation, Harry Taylor was employed as a centre half in a back three with Reis Greenidge out for the game.

From the beginning, it looked like it wasn’t going to be one for the purists, Wood well known for their tough, hard tackling game and turning the ball from back to front as quick as possible, the Bees trying to match their high flying opponents.

With both sides ring-rusty from a lack of match action of around two weeks there is pretty much next to nothing to write about the first half, Aston Oxborough forced into a save from Scott Boden down to his left tipping the ball away from goal and Sam Beard completing the clearance.

That was the only clear chance either side had in the first forty-five minutes as the two teams cancelled each other out from back to front.

The second half had more of the same unfortunately, Barnet’s first real chance came just after the hour mark, the excellent Jordan Thomas sent a lovely little cross in the six yard box but Bloomfield fluffed his kick and the scores stayed level.

Jacob Mendy had a great chance to win it for the hosts in the final ten minutes but Oxborough was equal to his shot and without much further drama a 0-0 draw was about as much as we could have expected.

I think it depends how you look at it as to whether it’s a good point against a top three side or just a poor game of football. From the outside it’s the good point, as mentioned above you could see neither side were in sync having had two weeks without playing, that’s bound to affect any team to get momentum going again.

I can’t say I was too keen that we went for a match up against them instead of playing our game, granted we did stand up to them and blocked and sweated everything they did, but at the expense of players like Rob Hall who had no influence at all on the game, a mere passenger.

I know playing Wood it’s not pretty, I have to say I wouldn’t enjoy watching the ball constantly find the air, that’s for the NFL!

Excellent game for Thomas on the right side today, certainly helps I think having Jamie Turley alongside him and by far the man of the match in black and amber.

A final word on the officials, the referee was pretty decent, just missed all the subtle things Wood like to get into the game, slowing down the throw in’s, the pushes and man handling. But the assistant in front of us was as poor as they come, countless offsides missed from not being in line with play, one or two too many mince pies this festive period, he was a shocker!

Well, onto Hungerford on Monday, can’t wait for that burger…………

Leave our festive football alone

Thursday evening was planned for a trip to Chichester vs Burgess Hill but having spent since the night before in bed with a stomach upset coupled with the wet weather forcing a postponement I haven’t missed anything.

But something has caught my eye over the past few weeks and it’s something that get’s trotted out every single year but not in non-league, ‘there’s too many games to play over Christmas and New Year.’

It’s at the point where it’s boring certain foreign coaches trot out the same rubbish every year that they don’t have enough players and they should be protected more at this time of year.

It’s just enough to make me laugh it really is, whilst I appreciate on the continent countries have a winter break its something that’s never been the same in England.

It’s fair to say we love our festive football. I was brought up with Boxing Day football and of course we were depraved of it last year which probably makes people want it more this year, nothing worse than having something you usually do taken away from you through no fault of your own.

So it’s not as if these coaches are dealing with something new, it’s been here before they arrived and it will be here well after they leave, my opinion is if you don’t like it bugger off elsewhere and get paid much less, quite simple really.

These guys have access to 25 man squads plus an Under 23 set up and also a youth team, but apparently that’s not enough players. Do we have that luxury in non-league? Not in most cases, and hardly ever a 25 man squad, the sheer luxury eh!

I think most of them conveniently forget that without SKY paying the big bucks they wouldn’t be as rich as they are, you ask any manager or player down at our level and I’m sure they’d bite your hand off to be in their shoes, playing and moneywise, I mean who wouldn’t?

I don’t think any of them realise how lucky they are not having to get up at 5am, go and do a full day’s work and then meet up at 3.30pm to head off to a midweek game to get back and 1am the following morning and up again in a few hours for work, that is hard graft!

And these guys are playing no less the amount of games during this same period, in some cases more and of course this is no different to them throughout the course of the season.

Clubs also benefit massively with local derbies around this time of the season too, and with so many off work for a few days attendances can increase massively. We’ve already seen so far this year that there are more and more people attending games at all levels, very few are not seeing any increase at all and I don’t see that stopping this season, people are genuinely so pleased to be able to get out and watch their favourite team.

To be honest what these guys trot out year after year bores me silly, put up with it or bog off, it’s not gonna change on your say so and we like our football at this time of year so deal with it!

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Honours even at The Shooting Field

Tuesday night was festive football at last! After a couple of days of family commitments and passing up on Worthing’s delicious win at Bognor during the afternoon Steyning Town was the destination in the evening as they hosted East Preston.

I had my eye on this one just before the home side announced entry would be free, a very generous gesture which I hope added a few more onto the usual crowd figure. It had gained the attention of a few mates, Gareth Spinks and Pete Clarke on their second game of the day after the Rebels win, AFC Uckfield coach Craig Scott and the groundhopping chap that is Justin Holmes.

Having previously watched Steyning earlier in the season against the outstanding Littlehampton who were ruthless in a 6-0 win, they were up against an EP side who are struggling once again this season to get some momentum in results.

With it being the holiday period and expected player availability issues neither side were able to field a full complement of substitutes, but the starting eleven’s began at a frantic pace.

The opening goal arrived on 15 minutes and one worth waiting for, the home side won a free kick around two or three yards outside the penalty area which Scott Murphy curled superbly around the wall and past Dan Stevens to give Steyning the lead.

EP were relying on the pace of Shane Brazil to harass and hurry the Steyning backline, but the front man and his striking partner Harry Russell were marshalled pretty well throughout the first half.

The visitors levelled up the game just before the half hour mark when Brazil netted from the penalty spot, a clear foul on an East Preston man and no complaints from the home side.

Steyning looked the more likely to take the lead once again but a combination of not quite creating clear cut chances nor able to fully test Stevens saw the sides level at the half time interval.

The second half for the home side was a case of almost but not quite, with EP playing a high defensive line for most of the time Steyning were probing for balls just over the top while the visitors were aiming to get the ball out wide for the pushed on full backs and while there was a great battle throughout the half between Mayckol Sabino and Joel Parsons the latter couldn’t get any real quality into the Steyning box to trouble JJ Banasco-Zaragoza.

Both sides struggled to keep possession and use it to fashion some chances, the game turning a little scrappy on two or three occasions in the second half, with attacks breaking down on a constant basis.

No doubt the home side created the better opportunities as the half wore on and should indeed have won it in the final ten minutes but with shots blazing over the bar Stevens wasn’t tested enough in the EP goal for either side to deserve any less than a point.

The result moves the visitors off the bottom of the table having played a game more than AFC Varndeanians who replace them whilst Steyning are now three games unbeaten but remain in 15th spot having played more games than most around them.

Both sides are next in action on Bank Holiday Monday as Steyning travel to Pagham for an 11am kick off whilst East Preston host title chasing local rivals Littlehampton Town at 3pm.

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Water and covid hamper festive fixtures

The festive period is a time when there’s so much football going on it can be hard to catch your breath at times. Two extra Bank Holidays after Christmas and one after New Year means games are being spread out nicely across the non-league pyramid, well covid seems to have other ideas.

I guess with the loss of games this time last year everyone was chomping at the bit to watch some festive footie, but it’s not just positive tests getting in the way the weather has decided to throw its opinion into the mix.

For me I wasn’t scheduled to watch any games on Boxing Day, nor Bank Holiday Monday due to family commitments so I haven’t missed a lot. Being back in full time work means Tuesday daytime is also out for me and from a selfish point of view, Barnet’s trip to Southend being called off which will now be a midweek Tuesday night in the future means I can go.

The weather however is a different story, we’ve been very lucky I think so far this season with very few huge downpours, no frozen pitches nor snow in the southern half of the country.

There has been a few words of disagreement across social media for some today with late postponements etc and I thought I’d just add a little bit from my point of view. Having been a club secretary at Step 6 I’ve had to deal with a few weather issues, but certainly dealt with slightly different to those higher up the food chain.

Generally our match referee was very local, occasionally he or she had a bit of a journey and if the weather looked a bit iffy most are happy for a local official to come and have a look and make the decision on their behalf.

If you go up say to Steps 3 and 4 the match referee can also ask someone more local to take a look, but the final decision is down to the man whose actually going to be running the game and that could mean two different opinions.

Some pitches are always going to be borderline decisions one way or the other and while the home side might be in the ear of the official to err on the side of ‘caution’ and postpone the game it’s never going to be the right decision when the entire pitch isn’t covered with water.

It can also mean the early inspection being passed, but the later one calling the game off leading to frustration and disappointment all round, one man’s light surface water is another man’s puddle.

Covid is of course a completely different issue but causing more games to be off than the weather. Hopefully as we come out of the festive period we hear less and less about it and games return to normal and we complete a season. I think we will get there as a majority of the divisions have or nearly completed half of their league games and there is 75% completion rate minimum that would see a third null and void unable to happen.

I have games planned in on Tuesday and Thursday evenings of this week and at least two more over the New Year weekend, I wouldn’t like to bet all four make it past the finishing post but we can only hope………….