‘I am losing the energy to continue’

Wayne Aziz (left) is sent off against Tadcaster Albion last Saturday.
Wayne Aziz (left) is sent off against Tadcaster Albion last Saturday.

Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite has hit out at the Northern Counties East League after the team were forced to play four games in eight days.

The Seasiders’ overloaded schedule saw them face Tadcaster Albion last Saturday and Knaresborough Town in the League Cup on Monday evening. They were due to play Basford United at home last night, before travelling to play the same opposition this Saturday.

Town face a similar programme in the final week of the season, and the chairman has admitted he has asked himself ‘why am I doing this?’.

In a statement on the club’s website, he said: “As is normal when part-time players have to play midweek games, we have suffered a few injuries and also had players sent off, which has resulted in suspensions to the players along with all the paperwork involved which needs dealing with.

“I believe it is dangerous and incorrect that players who have regular jobs have to be required to play four games in a week. The players and management are meant to enjoy their hobby, not be punished by it.

“Like most clubs we have to block book and pay for our training facility in advance at Bishop Burton College for three months ahead, yet with this glut of games we are unable to use the facility.

“We now have very few fans travel to away games midweek and maybe only four or five management and committee because of the distances involved recently, which results in me personally having to take the kit to a laundry in Hull to get ready for the next game, instead of it going back to Bridlington.

“One major problem is income and cash flow from home games. What would professional clubs say if they only had one Saturday home game in a month and then three games at home in five days?

“Fans are very much creatures of habit and get used to watching their team on alternative Saturdays at home and the odd midweek game.

“Our crowds have dropped again this season, we cannot compete with Champions League games on TV in midweek so we must maximise our income for Saturday matches.”

Smurthwaite warned that something has to change in the structure of the NCEL league.

“I would say I personally am losing the energy to want to continue putting the amount of time and effort into this football club, knowing this situation could easily occur next season through no fault of this football club.

“I have invested a lot of money on improving our pitch over the last four years and we have not had any fixture at Queensgate postponed this season, yet I am faced with long difficult motorway journeys on miserable winter evenings thinking “why the hell am I doing this?” and I am sure the players and management are beginning to think the same.

“Something has to change for me to want to keep it going in the future.”