Disbelief from all at Notts County after Orient postponement
WHAT is black and white and very angry? Answer: Notts County.
It sounds like a bad joke you would get in a Christmas cracker, only no one was laughing at Meadow Lane on Saturday when their final home league game of the year against Leyton Orient was called off.
There is no way it should have been postponed. It was a ridiculously bad decision by the referee, Jeremy Simpson, after pitch inspections at midday and then 1pm.
Former top referee Uriah Rennie was also there to assess the first-year official and looked to have a big say in the controversial call, only a couple of hours before kick-off, that left everyone in disbelief.
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It was called off because it was felt the playing conditions were dangerous for players because of heavy rain.
But none of the frustrated players thought their safety would have been at risk and neither did the two managers, Keith Curle and Russell Slade, who both told Simpson they wanted to play.
"What has the ref seen? The pitch is fine, a bit muddy near the Pavis stand, that's it. What a stupid decision," midfielder Alan Judge later tweeted.
"Pitch was best I've seen it in a while! Can't believe it was called off," added defender Gary Liddle.
The pitch looked perfectly playable and it even stopped raining soon after Simpson had left Meadow Lane. The Magpies even trained on it, having been denied the chance to play Orient.
Nottingham Rugby's Championship game against Moseley went ahead 24 hours later, which only makes the call look more stupid.
Notts are now going to lodge a formal complaint about Simpson to the Football League, so angry are they, and chief executive Jim Rodwell pulled no punches about the decision, after speaking to the ref out on the pitch after his last inspection.
"It quite simply beggars belief that a professional match official could come to this conclusion," he blasted.
"Both managers and both sets of players wanted to play the game and were more than happy with the condition of the pitch.
"It appears the only person in the stadium who thought that the game was a danger to the players was the referee.
"We had a game rightly called off because of a frozen pitch the other week, but this was the wrong call.
"I spoke to the ref and he said it was because of the safety of the players, but the pitch was fine. There was nothing wrong with it all and it even stopped raining after he called if off, like the forecast said it would.
"It was baffling and I am so annoyed.
"Everyone wanted to play the game, everyone thought the correct decision would have been to play it, except the ref and it has absolutely sickened me.
"It was not our fault – we worked hard to get the game on."
Notts boss Keith Curle did not want to end up on an FA charge so he did not criticise the ref. But, after taking a walk of the entire pitch, his feelings were pretty clear.
"I told the ref we wanted to play and so did Orient," he said.
"But there is nothing we could say to change his mind and I don't want to have to send the FA a Christmas card with a cheque in it.
"It was frustrating because we were ready to play – we wanted to play.
"But we were at the mercy of the ref and he made his decision.
"All I will say is we got the balls out and did some training on there – and I would never risk the safety of my players.
"It's disappointing, but it's gone now. We have to get on with it."