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NLP Column 6th December 2016

Friend of the paper Tony Incenzo has a bee in his bonnet. After years of journeying around the grounds for work and for pleasure, TalkSPORT’s best known traveller has finally snapped with the cruel mistress than is Mother Nature.

He’s had enough of games being called off at short notice and fans suffering after being left out of pocket because of our wild winters – and he’s come up with an idea to get to the bottom of it.

Now let’s put our cards of the table here for a moment. Tony’s crusade is not just a moral pilgrimage. His angst is born out of a wasted afternoon even the most stone-hearted Fulham or Chelsea fans wouldn’t have wished on our QPR-obsessed explorer.

Setting off on a near 400 mile trip from his London home to the Rhondda Valleys last weekend, Incenzo had his heart set on ticking off another far flung ground.

The Welsh Cup tie between Ton Pentre and Bangor City caught his gaze – but he was soon in the eye of a snow storm.

Soon after his arrival following hours on the road, the game was postponed an hour before kick-off because of a heavy overnight front.

Unsurprisingly, a good look around and a warm cup of tea couldn’t remove the dark cloud hanging over his head. He’s got over 2,000 grounds chalked off, but sadly this was a totally wasted trip.

As we all know, for Groundhoppers to tick a club off their list they have to have seen a full 90 minutes. He’s required by strict Hopper law to return to south Wales before hanging up his pen and notepad.

Tony’s cogs was clearly turning on his four-hour trip home. Just what can we do to avoid these late-in-the-day annoyances?

He says that if the conditions prompt cause for concern, there must be an inspection before away clubs set off. If there’s any doubt – call the game off there and there.

Incenzo reckons from then on, there’s to be no postponement unless there’s a complete deterioration in the conditions.

Stourbridge fans will probably agree. Losing their FA Cup tie with Northampton last Sunday with many of the supporters already in the ground – was that pitch any less playable at 2.30pm than it was at midday?

Football Soccer Britain - Stourbridge v Northampton Town - FA Cup Second Round - The War Memorial Athletic Ground - 4/12/16 General view as the game is called off due to a frozen pitch Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes Livepic
Football Soccer Britain – Stourbridge v Northampton Town – FA Cup Second Round – The War Memorial Athletic Ground – 4/12/16
General view as the game is called off due to a frozen pitch
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes
Livepic

In reality, there’s precious little Non-League clubs can do about a frozen pitch. But the calls for a quick decision and to give the game the best chance possible should be listen to.

By Sam Elliott

Published by Russell Eynon