Kearns angry after St Neots game is ‘rubbed’ out

ST Neots Town chairman Mike Kearns was critical of visitors Daventry Town on Saturday after their game at The Hunts Post Community Stadium was controversially postponed just minutes before it was due to kick off.

Despite the amazing efforts of the Southern League Division One Central club’s staff and fans on Friday night and Saturday morning, their game against recent strugglers Daventry was called off by referee Chris O’Donnell, who overturned his two previous decisions, because of a ‘frozen pitch’ at 2.50pm.

After watching his team warming up on what was certainly a hard pitch, the opposing manager, Mark Kinsella, persuaded the referee that there was ice below the surface and that the pitch was dangerous if not unplayable.

What riled Saints chairman Kearns was that members of the Daventry entourage had rubbed away a spot on the surface of the pitch to illustrate their point.

“I’m not happy,” he said. “I don’t blame the referee but I’m very upset with Daventry. From the moment they came here they took two steps on the pitch and didn’t want to play.

“We felt there was no problem and as I speak to you now our players are out there training and playing football. If they can do that so can Daventry.

“Daventry weren’t up for the game right from the start. They harassed the referee from the moment they got here.

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“The referee called this game on at one o’clock, nothing’s changed since then. What happened is Daventry came out and rubbed the pitch. You can rub it down and rub it down and get a little bit of ice - but that’s an inch underneath, you don’t play football an inch underneath.”

On Friday night, with the region’s temperature diving, manager Dennis Greene organised for drums of burning broken up wooden pallets to be placed on the pitches’ icier spots. He was desperate to make sure the game was on. Had St Neots beaten Daventry, they would have gone top of the division with leaders Slough Town’s match already called off.

Staff and fans descended on The Hunts Post Community Stadium to help keep the home fires burning - but just 20 minutes before 3pm kick off, the referee was made aware of the ‘rubbed’ area, and after 10 minutes of deliberation with his fellow officials and those from both clubs, he decided on a postponement.

After using the ground’s PA system to blame Daventry for the postponement, while informing the 200-plus fans who had turned up that the game was off, chairman Kearns added: “There has been a tremendous amount of effort and that makes me proud.

“We had people here from four o’clock yesterday until 12 last night. They worked in shifts and on a Friday night of all nights.

“They were here again at eight this morning and everybody has worked hard. We’re very, very disappointed. But I am very proud of the way everyone pulled together to get the game on.”