‘We’ve played too many games’ say clubs

Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge on the ball during last weekend's 2-0 defeat at home to AFC Uckfield Town. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-141129-170835002)
Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge on the ball during last weekend's 2-0 defeat at home to AFC Uckfield Town. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-141129-170835002)

As we head into December, Bexhill’s two senior football clubs have already completed over half of their league matches this season.

Bexhill United and Little Common have played 16 of their 28 Macron Store Sussex County Football League Division Two games, meaning they have just 12 remaining in almost five months.

Common player-manager Russell Eldridge was particularly critical of the fixture scheduling this term.

He said: “I think the fixtures have been ridiculous if I’m honest with you. When you know you’ve got a league of 28 games and teams have got floodlights, there’s no danger of not being able to fit the games in.

“We started the season way too early and they gave us a couple of midweek league games early on. I can understand playing the cup games midweek, especially against the Division One teams - I’ve got no problem with that - and then to give us a full month of fixtures in December...

“I don’t think we need to play over Christmas at this level, especially with the small amount of league fixtures we’ve got. They could’ve said the 13th (of December) will be our last game and we won’t play again until January. It will give pitches time to recover and people can spend time with their families.

“If we play all our games before Christmas, that will leave us eight games to play in the new year which is absolutely ridiculous. Theoretically we could be finished by the end of February.

“I just think it’s a bit stupid and short-sighted the way they’ve done the fixtures this year.”

As well as the usual Saturday matches, Bexhill had Tuesday night games for five consecutive weeks in September and October, four of them in the league.

“I feel that they panicked really because of the weather situation in previous years so they almost crammed those games in at the start of the year and it really wasn’t needed,” said Bexhill manager Marc Munday.

“I don’t think it’s done any teams that have had that amount of games any favours because we don’t have massive squads at this level and it was a hindrance to us to be honest.

“I can see us with weeks with no fixture because if we start having the odd midweek game, they will be over in no time. It will be strange, but I’ll be happy with one game a week every Saturday and winning every Saturday. I’m looking forward to next year.”

League chairman Steve Nealgrove said: “If clubs are concerned, first of all they should come to us. I would’ve thought the clubs would’ve been quite happy to get their fixtures out the way.

“Because of the horrendous winter we had last year, we thought we would try and get a few extra games in midweek. If we have a dry winter, the league would look at potentially introducing a supplementary cup.”