You know those folk who often stand in town centres preaching, with placards proclaiming ‘The End of the World is Nigh”? Turns out they’ve gone for the wrong message to initiate moralistic panic and outrage. If they really want to stir up a fuss then they should cover their signs over and re-daub them with the message “Rovers Game Frozen Off”. If the level of feeling about this postponement on internet messageboards is to be believed then even Thierry Henry is currently sat in a villa in Barcelona thankful that he only committed that handball, and not the ultimate crime of declaring a Rovers match postponed.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m as disappointed as most that the match with Leicester was called off, as it was to be the cornerstone of my day. Luckily I was already in Doncaster this morning, but as someone who frequently makes a 250 mile round-trip for home games I have sympathy for the exiles who had already set-off for the game. But, can things not be written off as an unfortunate consequence any more? It was cold, very cold, therefore the pitch was deemed too frozen for football to take place. Irritating? Yes. A massive failing? Probably not.
What I had not realised was just how many empiricists there were in the Doncaster area? So many fans were popping up on messageboards to claim that there had been no frost last night, or that the pitch itself was not frozen. Why? Was it really in Rovers’ interest, or that of the Stadium Management Committee if we’re splitting hairs, for this game to be called off? Nope, not at all. So I don’t doubt that all that was feasibly possible was done for this game to take place, but ultimately the decision rests with the match referee and if he deems it unsafe, then unsafe it is. No game, or several crocked players? I’ll take no game please.
Not surprisingly the Leicester City fans were also upset at the postponement, with they too using the internet as it was intended to be, a tool for unreasoned tirade. Humble comments such as ‘tinpot’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ were hurled our way by Leicester City. Now don’t get me wrong, I realise that on historical standing we are something of an interloper at this level, but bloody hell Leicester are a little up themselves aren’t they? Thankfully VSC forum poster BillyStubbsTears provided a particularly succinct and enjoyable rebuff to the Foxes’ fans’ remarks. “Leicester fans can keep their sanctimonious bleatings. We WOULD be able to afford under soil heating if we followed their lead and just didn’t bother with minor financial inconveniences. Like paying creditors… Simple answer of course. If you don’t want to get inconvenienced by tin pot clubs then don’t get relegated out of the Premiership.”
So are the adverts true then? Do things not just happen with a degree of misfortune anymore, and instead where there is a shame there is blame? Personally, I think that when it comes to the basic principle of the match going ahead or not then the answer is no. Cold weather freezes things. The pitch is one of these things, and whilst Belle Vue had the sun on its side, the Keepmoat is hampered by the shade of roofed stands. However, when it comes down to how the postponement was handled by the club on a communication level, then that is something which could have been much improved.
It must have been some frost last night, because it also seized up the telephone and computer wires down at the Keepmoat Stadium. I am happy to back Rovers up against undue criticism on a meteorological level, but not on the communication front. First off they did not help their case, by proudly proclaiming at the end of last week that the match would most definitely be on. They could never be that certain, so why boast about it. Have we learnt nothing from ‘Destination Championship?’
The next element of disappointment came with the lack of notice regarding the pitch inspection. I was on the official website up to 10am this morning looking for such an announcement and there was none. So, whilst the news that Billy Sharp was shortlisted for a Player of the Month accolade was there, having been uploaded today, the 28th December, there was nothing to suggest there was any doubt over the fixture. Not until minutes before the pitch inspection took place did a warning appear, and that was followed very swiftly by the announcement the game was off.
Thirdly, even whilst the pitch inspection was in progress the ticket office were cheerfully selling tickets with no suggestion to their customers that the game may have been off. Given that last year the ticket office rang me personally (as an exile) to tell me the Bristol City game was off, I am going to assume that the staff in that office had not been told there was any doubt over the fixture.
So if you want to sacrifice a scapegoat then let that, the communication of our club, be it as I believe this to be the only genuine low-point from this postponement. Both internally (from department to department) and externally (from club to fans) Rovers made errors of judgement in communication today, and so if it is that at which you are angry then I forgive you. However, I would also advise you to relax a little. Unlike many of those Rovers fans viewing this as some kind of orchestrated conspiracy theory I won’t be able to attend the rearranged game. And yet despite this, if I am completely honest, I am still more irked by the lack of Galaxy Truffles in the Christmas box of Celebrations currently sitting on the coffee table than I am by this postponement. There’ll be another game along soon, I won’t see another box of Celebrations ’til next Christmas.