09:00AM, Saturday 23 January 2021
Maidenhead United chairman Peter Griffin has admitted the club’s recent postponements have been hugely frustrating but says one silver lining from the period of inactivity could be that fans are allowed back into the ground for when the matches are rescheduled.
United haven’t played competitively since their 4-0 rout of Wealdstone on Boxing Day and have since seen their away matches at Barnet on December 28 and Wealdstone on January 2 called off because of COVID events at those clubs. They had been due to get back to action for the first time in six weeks against Yeovil Town on Saturday, but that game was also postponed at short notice after a member of the coaching staff contracted the virus.
It leaves the Magpies short on match fitness heading into Saturday’s game at Woking, and Griffin admits it’s been a frustrating time, but says the management team and players just have to accept it and get on with things as they stand. He added that each club has to go through the correct COVID protocol to have a game called off at short notice, even if, at times, it seems that process can be open to abuse.
“By the time we played on Boxing Day I think we’d had quite a good run and were ahead of most other teams,” said Griffin. “But it’s come back with a vengeance now. It’s unfortunate because we haven’t had any cases ourselves. The last round of testing was just over a week ago and everyone came back negative. The players are looking after themselves and doing their bit. It’s frustrating but we just have to accept it.
“With Yeovil I think it was a member of their coaching staff, they could have played but their physio had been in contact with that member of staff. We have two physios and we told them we could cover that, but no, they didn’t want to do that. It does seem a little bit arbitrary, but for a game to be cancelled it has to go through the league and they have to okay it with the full facts. Each club also has a COVID officer and a medic so there is correct protocol even though it may not always be that obvious to us. Most cases are different in terms of the contact that person has had with others, but I don’t want to say that much more about it.”
Despite their lack of league action Maidenhead remain in a healthy position in the league. They’re ninth in the table and just a couple of points outside the play-off places with matches in hand on some of their rivals above and below them. Their hosts on Saturday, Woking, haven’t won in four matches but are just a couple of places below the Magpies having played two more matches.
“We’ve had some games called off when you’re thinking ‘if we were down near the bottom and hadn’t won in six or seven games, I bet the game would have gone ahead’” he said. “But that’s just my thoughts on it, who knows really, and I’m talking generally really, not just about our matches.
“I do see one major plus though. Games being called off now could well take place at a time when we’re allowed crowds in, either in partial form, like we were going to have before Christmas, or in a fuller format. Who knows what the situation might be like in May? At the end of May there’s every chance that lockdown will be lifted so we could have crowds back in before the end of the season. There should be with the vaccination programme. But the silver lining is that games being cancelled now could take place later with fans in. That could be one good thing.”
Griffin added: “The number of new cases is falling rapidly. It could mean that we open up again at some stage and welcome fans back in. You’ve got to look at the bright start we’ve had and say there’s an upside to this as well.”
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