It's crazy we can't have fans at our local football shield matches

Southern Combination League chairman Steve Nealgrove has praised clubs for making a big success of the Supplementary Shield – but says it’s ‘crazy’ a small number of fans aren’t allowed at each game.

Storrington celebrate an SCFL Shield goal at Shoreham / Picture: Stephen Goodger
Storrington celebrate an SCFL Shield goal at Shoreham / Picture: Stephen Goodger

The end-of-season group cup competition, organised to make up for the loss of the league season because of Covid, is into its third week and has been highly competitive.

Teams from the SCFL’s premier, first and second divisions and their U23 and U18 divisions have been playing one another bidding to reach semi-finals and finals.

Nealgrove said the number of teams taking part and enjoying the action showed the league was right to set up the shield.

Worthing United play Wick in the shield / Picture: Kyle Hemsley

“It’s been well-received and very competitive. When we contacted clubs we were surprised and pleased at the number who wanted to play competitive football,” he said.

“It’s nice to see it going so well and I’d like to think clubs are benefitting from getting players together and playing again, some with an eye on next season.”

An anomaly in Covid rules means some clubs from division two, who play in public parks, are being watched by crowds but those with enclosed grounds have to keep the gates locked.

“It’s such a shame for them they can’t have fans. When you see crowds being trialled at Wembley, it’s crazy that we were not allowed 100 or 150 at some of these very open grounds.

“But we’ve deliberately timed the finals for the week of May 17 when we’re hopeful crowds will be allowed.”