OPINION: Aylesbury’s Boxing Day derby disappointment highlights league’s failings

Nice weather for Ducks: How Aylesbury FC's Haywood Way pitch looked on Boxing Day morning      PHOTO: Derek Pelling
Nice weather for Ducks: How Aylesbury FC's Haywood Way pitch looked on Boxing Day morning PHOTO: Derek Pelling
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As the disappointment, unlike the water covering Aylesbury FC’s pitch, subsides after the postponement of the big Boxing Day derby it leaves a number of questions.

The much-anticipated match between the Moles and Ducks would have been the first competitive fixture between the two sides in Aylesbury – they have met in a friendly.

With Ducks fans having to travel outside the town to Leighton just for home games, a bumper crowd of as many as 600 was expected for the tussle between two bitter rivals.

But, as widely expected, the match was cancelled due to FC’s notorious flooded pitch – cue jokes about the Ducks wanting the game to go ahead as they would have a distinct advantage.

In truth the match could have been postponed just as soon as it was announced back on July 17. I said as much in the office when the fixture list came out. I wasn’t making a Nostradamus-esque prediciton, though.

Anyone who knows anything about football at this level expects a string of postponements at this time of year when the wintry weather takes hold.

But the same people will also know if any pitch is going to flood and become unplayable in the winter, it is Haywood Way.

So why oh why then schedule what is a historic game – certainly locally – to be played in Aylesbury on Boxing Day when all probability and history tells you FC’s pitch will be more akin to a water polo arena?

The Southern League will argue it is to minimise travel for everyone on Boxing Day, well they certainly did that, most fans didn’t get as far as the front door.

Like many fans have decried on Twitter, the Aylesbury fixture should have been played at the beginning or near the end of the season and the Leighton match on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day if one had to be staged around this time at all.

The League may also point to the extra allowances that needed to be made for Leighton Town, Aylesbury United’s landlords at Bell Close, as they have preference for home games.

But they were away from home first game of the season, why not open the campaign with the derby? All three teams play in the same league after all, this is not rocket science.

What will we be left with now, a couple of hundred fans braving the cold on a Tuesday or Wednesday night? The fixture and clubs deserve better than that. The non-league game is hard enough without being denied the chance to maximise opportunities to make a few quid in games against local rivals.

Tony Joyce summed it up perfectly in renewing his calls for a winter break last week.

He said: “If it is postponed it will probably be played on a Tuesday night in February and it won’t be quite as big which is a shame.

“Why we don’t just play more games at the beginning of the season when the weather is good I don’t know, but I don’t make the decisions.”

I hope now the league redeems itself by at the very least making sure the match takes place on a weekend, perhaps one when both clubs will be free from a cup competition? But this isn’t the first match and won’t be the last to be called off this winter so the backlog is already building up fast.

Even if it has to be a Sunday or right at the end of the season, it’s got to be better than midweek.

For what it is worth whenever the game is played my money is on a draw... now will someone help me down from this fence?

All the best to both clubs and their fans for 2014.