Officials from the Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League have reacted with anger and disbelief after Calderdale Council failed to put up goal posts at three venues ahead of yesterday’s big kick-off.
The three sites were identified as Goldfields at Greetland, White Lee Rec, Mytholmroyd and Calder Holmes Park, Hebden Bridge. Other problems on the opening day of the league campaign saw the wrong key issued for the changing facilities at Carr Green Rec, no pitch markings at Northowram and no hot water in the changing rooms on Savile Park.
League spokesman Mike Sharman said the situation was farcical and added that the council had been aware of the starting date for the season for two months.
“It is just totally unnacceptable,” said Sharman. “Clubs pay over £500 per team to use these pitches and the council cannot even get the posts put up on time.
“What I struggle to understand is that the council have had our fixtures for two months which clearly stated when the season started.
“We have started the Sunday League season on the same weekend since Noah parked the ark practically.
“I can understand that mistakes get made, but this is just a catalogue of errors and as far as I am concerned it is inexcusable.
“I would like to say straightaway that I have no issue with Diane Atha, who deals with sports pitch and facilities hire at Calderdale Council, as I believe the problems arise further up the chain of command.
“Diane went out of her way on Saturday to resolve the problem at Carr Green. At least she was out there trying to do something.”
Sharman and new league fixture secretary Nigel Dare also spent most of Saturday making sure all the scheduled games were played, which they managed through a combination of switching fixtures - a move which relied heavily on the goodwill of the affected teams.
“The teams used a lot of common sense which we as a league were grateful for,” added Sharman. “However, I have to ask what the teams are actually getting for their money.
“I would now encourage those affected to press for at least a one match refund from the council because as far as I am concerned these incidents have left their rules and regulations on pitch hire null and void.
“We feel that as a league we have been totally and utterly ignored and we want teams to make their grievances known in the hope that somebody will listen.”
Champions Carrington began the defence of their Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League title with a 3-1 success over Halifax Hammers.
The home side started on the front foot and took the lead thanks to a moment of brilliance from Damien Randall. Winning the ball on halfway he drove forward to the edge of the box before cutting inside two defenders and drilling the ball into the bottom corner.
Carrington were enjoying some decent possession but Hammers began threatening with a series of quick counter attacks and drew level thanks to a well taken goal from Sameer Ahmed.
Both sides continued to attack as the game opened up, Jordan Coduri was denied by a fine save from Hussain Farooq before Mohammed Ozair went close for the visitors.
The second half started in the same way with Carrington pressing and Hammers looking dangerous on the break.
Carrington retook the lead when Coduri stabbed home after a goalmouth scramble and that, coupled with the substitution of Martin Coldwell who had been holding things together in the middle for Hammers, allowed Carrington to take firm control of the game with the threat from the newly promoted side petering out.
Coduri then wrapped up the points with 10 minutes remaining when he found himself in space down the left and beat the last defender before finishing in style.
Old Pond picked up a hard fought opening day 3-1 victory against a Ryburn United side who impressed on their Division One debut.
It was the visitors who deservedly took the lead in a strong first half display, but ultimately not scoring more goals having created some good chances allowed a more experienced Pond side to move through the gears in the second half.
Steven Ashford, on debut, centred for Paul Taylor to equalise before a mazy Glen Lee run saw him felled in the area.
Michael Barlow saw his spot kick saved, but a Chris Marsh brace secured victory for the Hove Edge side.
Another debutant James Symonds fed Marsh for his first - a magnificent effort into the top corner - before he wrapped up victory with Barlow the provider.
Queens Head also got off to a good start after grinding out a 4-2 success at Royd Club.
Queens took the lead when Blake Gallagher was brought down and martin Cannon scored from the pemalty.
Joe Bryson then made it 2-0 but Royd pulled one back on the stroke of half-time with joe Bryson headidng into his own net.
Queens keeper Craig Chew then saved a penalty early in the second half but was beaten by a second spot kick not long after for 2-2.
The visitors upped their game and finally won through with further goals from Cannon and Gallagher.
Halifax Rangers gave themselves a mountain to climb after conceding four silly goals in the first half of their eventual 4-3 defeat against Hen’s Face in Division Two.
However, they made a show of it in the second half and could have snatched a point with a little more luck.
The visitor’s first goal came from an innocuous punt out of defence, but with Rangers keeper Peter Bowe stranded Jake Kennedy read the bounce of the ball and headed beyond him.
The second goalwas also the result of a long clearance leading to Bowe conceding a penalty which Adam Burke neatly tucked away. A third long ball saw Chris Higgins get goal side of Aiden Hill and squeeze the ball past Bowe.
Three then became four when Rangers failed to deal with a corner and Kennedy lashed the ball home with the aid of a deflection.
Rangers’ best chance of the first half fell to Johnny Meynell, whose header from Paul Hodgson’s free-kick hit the inside of the post before being cleared.
Meynell would not be denied, hoewver, his rasping shot from 20 yards 10 minutes into the second period gave Rangers something of a lift.
When last season’s top scorer Sean Byrne latched on to Andy Farnell’s through ball to round the keeper for his side’s second goal the game became more interesting.
Burke could have sewn the game up for Hen’s Face when he ran unchallenged from halfway only for Bowe to make the save, while at the other end Byrne saw his free-kick shave the post and bar before his neat lob over Hen’s Face ‘keeper Neil Burchall five minutes from time brought about a tense finale.