Bridlington Town chairman blasts East Riding FA's choice of cup final venue

Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite
Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite

Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite has hit out at the East Riding FA's decision to host the Senior Cup final at their HQ, The Roy West Centre, rather than Hull City's KCOM Stadium.

Smurthwaite said in a club statement: "I remember in the late 1960s going to watch the final at Boothferry Park, Hull City’s ground to watch Bridlington Town versus Bridlington Trinity in front of nearly 2,000 people.

"Last night we won through to the final to play Hull City on May 1, sadly at the Roy West Centre, Inglemire Lane, ERCFA headquarters, possibly with a crowd of 200.

"It was agreed after the fiasco last season to make an early approach to have the final played at the KCOM Stadium where the Stadium Management Company have a duty to allow a number of “community matches” to be played there each season.

"The ERCFA had the ideal opportunity to get this game played at the KCOM when they were in negotiations with Hull City to allow their Under-23 games to be played at the Roy West Centre, I would have asked for the reinstatement of the ERCFA Senior Cup final and the cost of the same as part of the deal with Hull City at the KCOM Stadium (that’s why I am a successful business owner, sorting out good deals).

"No disrespect but the ERCFA headquarters is not a suitable venue for the area’s most prestigious cup final (unlike the West Riding County FA ground at Woodlesford).

"There is car parking for only two cars from each club, spectators and players take pot-luck parking at the nearby roads, covered seating for only 80 people, no suitable standing area behind one goal and part of one touch line and very limited catering facilities."

Smurthwaite added: "It is just not a proper stadium and is only used for the convenience of the ERCFA Committees and not for the enhancement of local football. For years local players have wanted to be given the opportunity to play at Hull City’s ground in a final. I was manager of Sculcoates Amateurs Under-18 team when we won the ERCFA Dr. Lilley Cup at Boothferry Park and some of these players still talk about it when they meet up, what an occasion it was for them.

"Even the semi-finals were always played at one of the area's non-league grounds, North Ferriby, Hall Road Rangers or Bridlington Town and again the chance for local amateur players to enjoy having played in a stadium.

"We are now told it would be unfair if our team played at our own ground in a semi-final, yet Hull City Under-23s can play the semi-final and final at their current ground, the ERCFA HQ.

" A couple of weeks ago Scarborough Athletic played York City in the North Riding County FA Senior Cup semi-final in front of 1,600 fans with the final being played at the Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium later this season.

"Prior to the semi-final we asked for this kick-off to be changed from 7pm to 7.30pm as previous years and this was denied, when our manager asked why he was told by one of the ERCFA Committee as some of their members are volunteers they need to be home early. Most non-league and amateur clubs are ran by volunteers yet the standard evening kick-off time is 7.45pm.

"We have players, committees and fans who have to travel from outside the Hull area and this is one of the reasons why some of our fans boycotted the game (I don’t really agree with that as a protest you should turn up and support your team at all times and do the Hull City thing and protest with tennis balls)."

The Seasiders chief added: "There were no drinks provided at half-time and food and drinks provided after the game for the players of both teams, this would not have happened at one of the non-league grounds or even the Humber League grounds, hospitality would have been provided as it normally is.

"The semi-finals were also an opportunity for the non-league clubs to get some extra revenue but as with the situation with the Hull City Under-23s, it appears the ERCFA want to make money out of local football when I thought one of the purposes of their organisation was to put money into local football.

"It is obvious the ERCFA no longer treat this Cup as their flagship competition with the real importance it used to have for the finale of the local football season, I can fully understand when playing the intermediate, junior and qualifying cup final, along with other amateur football finals at their ground but not this Senior Cup especially with its history of having been played and competed for over the previous 100 years of local football.

"I did want to discuss some of these issues with the senior executives of the ERCFA but none were present."