Tuesday saw a midweek trip to a night match…there is something special about a night game under lights.
So much so that a foray into the ‘semi-pro’ game was certainly warranted.
No doubt clubs who are struggling financially (aren’t they all?) welcome the chance to increase their revenue by playing in midweek, and those costs are of course slightly reduced by the changing of the clocks and the fact that the lights don’t need to be used throughout.
However, at this venue the evening was cloudy. Nevertheless the 6.30pm kick-off would possibly mean that 90 minutes’ worth of floodlighting may not be needed – certainly not from the start of the game.
As the two teams took the field it was apparent that the plan of bringing forward the kick-off was, though a perfectly logical step, not going to be of any use.
A hasty consultation between the match officials and the home club’s groundsman saw the latter trot off apparently to switch the lights on, the skippers tossed the coin, and the game began.
The gathering dusk became deeper, visibility began to be a real issue, yet the lights remained off.
The two managers were conferring in the gloom, and the groundsman appeared in a state of some consternation.
The lights would not come on. He couldn’t understand why, but an electrician had been summoned, he was due to arrive at the ground in 10 minutes. Off went the players, the queue at the snack bar grew, and people waited.
The electrician arrived. Much examining and head-scratching occurred, switches were flicked, fuses were checked, switches were flicked again, still nothing.
Ever the optimist, the “spark” went through everything one more time. Again, no result.
As a last resort he ran up a ladder to one of the floodlight pylons. Gingerly he ascended, made a brief three-second examination of the array, came down again, and went on to the next pylon.
Within 30 seconds he was down again. The system should have been working perfectly.
Only one thing was missing, a fairly vital component had disappeared – the bulbs.
Every one of the bulbs, all 36 of them, had been nicked. Game abandoned, extremely disgruntled paying customers were given refunds, the ground and the car park slowly emptied.
An Easter Monday trip to North Lancashire was also a wasted effort, though less so, with the match being abandoned after 50 minutes due to rainfall of decidedly biblical proportions.
There was no option in the conditions.
The teams in a game on Sunday were taken off due to a hailstorm. As this was a 3G pitch, the game resumed after a break of 10 minutes. On Monday we weren’t so lucky.