Halifax Panthers squad and fans react to 'farcical, frustrating and disappointing' trip to Workington

Halifax Panthers players, staff and many of the supporters were faced with a pointless six-hour drive to Cumbria last weekend following Workington Town’s late postponement decision, writes Seb Sternik.

By Mark Berry
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 8:13 am
Halifax Panthers news. Pic: Simon Hall
Halifax Panthers news. Pic: Simon Hall

The Betfred Championship fixture was originally cast into doubt with Storm Eunice battering the country with winds up to 100mph.

Despite weather warnings, Workington announced that the RFL had deemed the pitch playable at 7.45am. However, as Halifax began to make the trip across the country, the match was ultimately called off by the Ground Safety Officer just after 11am.

The Panthers team bus had got all the way to Cockermouth - seven miles away from Workington - when the news eventually reached the squad.

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Halifax Panthers boss Simon Grix believes the situation could have been handled better saying: “Farcical in the end but I do understand why they wanted the game on. They’ve got income to think about and the rest of it. But I thought it was pretty poor the way it transpired.

“We’d set off, a lot of fans had set off, some fans had stayed the night before. In the end, I think it could have been handled a lot better. But it is what it is and we get over it now and move on.”

Halifax scrum-half Cory Aston added: “We were stopping off for some food in a hotel in Cumbria on the way up. We got there, had a bit of breakfast, just finishing it off when Grixy [head coach] got the call that the game was off so that was pretty disappointing to be honest.”

Richard Hamilton - who has been following the Panthers for 47 years - was one of the fans who made the long trek to Cumbria.

He said: “We went up Friday night and stayed in Keswick with a view of a 30-mile run to Workington on Sunday. We got to Workington around two hours before kick-off and it was absolutely pilling it down.

“By that point I had been driving for an hour and a half and missed the fact that it had been called off. We didn’t see that until we actually pulled up into the ground a couple of hours before kick-off. It’s not a surprise [it was called off] but it should have been probably called off in the morning to stop anybody travelling.

“I saw the early [update] at 8.30am and if we we’re travelling from Halifax, we would have probably set off at that point. And if you’re driving, you’re not going to be looking at your phone. I know a lot of people did set off. Given the distance, there should be a more rigorous approach to doing it.”

Graham Patchett - who has been a Halifax fan for over 45 years - also made the trip to Cumbria.

He added: “I was quite frustrated. We travelled up there Saturday, it took us two hours to get out of Halifax because of the snowfall. I was on the phone and they said they were doing a pitch inspection very early in the morning. I got up, looked at it and they said ‘yeah, the referee looked at the game and it’s on.’

“We went down - it was only 15 minutes away from where we were stopping - and as we got into Workington, the heavens opened. I had to stop the car because the wipers wouldn’t take the water away. When it calmed, we went to the ground and it was all shut. We were told it’s been called off.

“In the morning when they did the pitch inspection, there was a video [on social media] with about six inches of water on that field. I really feel for the guys who set off that morning. I really do. Because they didn’t know till they were three quarters of the way there. Or even further.

“It was so disappointing. They said it was on and then four hours later, it’s not on. It shouldn’t have been on from eight o’clock. And it should have stopped the supporters - even the team bus from going up there. It all costs money.”

A date is yet to be set for the rescheduled clash between the two teams.