Millwey Rise pitch deemed unfit for play


- Credit: Archant

Millwey Rise were left perplexed when their Fresha League Division Six meeting with Newton St Cyres Reserves was cancelled without a ball being kicked in anger, writes Steve Birley.

The Mid Devon opposition Newton St Cyres were changed and on the pitch when they approached the appointed match official to request that the match not be played owing to the surface being ‘unfit for play’. The gripe seems to have been with the uneven nature of the surface. The referee agreed with their views and cancelled the match!

Millwey Rise club stalwart Dick Sturch, who sends in regular (and very good) match reports from the club, said: “I played football for 36 years of my life. I played because I loved the game. I played on well manicured football league pitches. I played on pitches with grass over the top of my boots. I played on pitches with cows as spectators. I played on pitches awash with water. I played on pitches hardened by frost or sun. I played on pitches more akin to a ploughed field. But never in my playing history did I not want to play football whatever the pitch. On Saturday at Cloakham Lawns, I saw an opposition team who clearly did not want to play on a surface they were describing as ‘bumpy’. My view is that they then seemed to persuade the appointed match official of their view and he agreed with them and declared the pitch unfit for play.”

Dick continued: “I have never been so disgusted with a team’s attitude and the lengths pursued to prevent a game being played. The well grassed surface of Cloakham Lawns, admittedly with boot marks in it from previous games, was soft, certainly playable and in no way dangerous and as fair to one side as the other.”

As a last resort Newton St Cyres were offered the opportunity to play the game on the 3G pitch at Axminster which they subsequently declined.

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Dick then set off for Feniton to watch the Millwey Rise Reserve’s in action against Feniton thirds. He says: “Interestingly, when I got there I found a game being played on a surface very similar to the one back at Cloakham Lawns!

Feniton playing down the slope took a one goal advantage into the half-time break. The second half was evenly fought with both sides creating chances. The balls uneven bounce caused defenders on both sides problems. Millwey’s equaliser came courtesy of a well taken header from Zac Meaker. Play swung from end-to-end throughout the game with defenders and keepers on both sides kept busy.

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For Millwey defenders James Morgan and Wayne Jenkins turned in solid performances as the team inch their way towards an improved position in the table.

Next up is an Easter Saturday (March 26) game in Exeter for the Millwey Rise first team and a meeting with high-flying Winchester (3pm).

The Reserve side are at Honiton thirds (3pm).

The next action at Cloakham Lawns is an Easter Monday (March 28) contest for the first team with Stoke Hill the visitors for a 3pm kick-off.

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