Only the Premiership Matters, Apparently...
Saturday 10th February 2018 1500hrs
I was working this morning but took time off to watch the BBC`s Football Focus at lunchtime and then listened to Talksport`s coverage of the North London Derby as I carried on slaving away. At about two, I donned my thermal gear, put on an extra pair of socks and then set off in the drizzly greyness to drive the eight miles from my house to Morecambe`s West End. There, I parked at Regent`s Park and walked over the adjacent railway bridge towards the Globe Arena. It seemed unusually quiet but there was a trickle of other supporters approaching the ground. Only as I actually reached the pub next to the venue was I stopped by a fellow supporter - who had just made exactly the same journey - and told that today`s match against Chesterfield was off.
I went to the club shop and collected my tickets for this contest and the next one due at this venue next week against Forest Green Rovers. Here, I was told that the match was postponed at ten this morning by the Referee in time to stop a wasted journey all the way from Derbyshire by the Shrimps` opponents today. So why didn`t I - and many other of my fellow Shrimps fans -know about it? Football Focus started two hours after the postponement had been announced; Talksport`s coverage from Wembley started even later. But it didn`t merit a single mention by either of these broadcasters. I suggest that the Trades Description Act should be invoked here. Football Focus should be re-named to describe what it actually is: Premiership Obsession. Talksport should be similarly re-labelled: TalkPremiership.Yes, folks - Only the Premiership Matters, Apparently...
So the following introduction which I had already written went in the bin:
If ever a league football match was a six-pointer, the one played today at the Globe Arena was precisely such a thing. Visitors Chesterfield have been battling against relegation from the EFL from the very first day of this season, having been demoted from League One as the worst team at the end of last term. Jack Lester`s team arrived in twenty-third position in League Two, five points above seemingly doomed Barnet but just two points behind nearest rival Forest Green Rovers. Only Crewe lay between the Shrimps and this unholy trio of strugglers right in the basement of the Football League. Morecambe - with FGR the next visitors to the Lancashire seaside next Saturday - were thus almost as desperate for points on the board today as their opponents in order to establish some sort of buffer - however precarious - against their fellow-strugglers.
For the home team, the omens were not entirely bad. They had already overcome the visitors on their own patch last October, winning 0-2. However, Manager Jim Bentley pronounced himself `as flat as a pancake` after this victory. "I`ve never had to change the formation as often as I did during the second half" he said at the time and bemoaned his team`s apparent lack of belief in being able to manage a game when in a winning position. The win, he suggested, had more to do with Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche`s determination not to beaten by his previous club than it had to do with anything else...
By the time I had got home again, the surviving League programme had reached half time. As far as League Two was concerned, FGR`s fixture at Newport was also the victim of a waterlogged pitch. By the end of play, Barnet`s win at home over apparently failing Notts County closed the gap between them and Chesterfield to just two points. Crewe only managed to draw and remain level on games played with Morecambe but a point behind them. Finally, Port Vale seem to be slipping back into the mire - their 5-1 thrashing at Cheltenham puts them within grasp of the Shrimps, just three points above them but having played a game more.