Harper wants FA to show flexibility and appreciate the life of a non-league player
Hampton & Richmond boss Mark Harper is not confident the FA will move the date of the rearranged FA Trophy replay at Chelmsford City.
Following a 1-1 draw at the Beveree in the original first round clash on November 24, the replay in Essex was set for Monday, December 3, but was postponed to Wednesday due to a waterlogged pitch.
However, come Wednesday, the pitch was frozen and the game had to be postponed for a second time.
Now, with a date set for Monday, December 10, the Beavers have put a request in to the FA to have the game moved to the following Saturday.
“Being a non-league club, it is difficult to continually ask players and staff to take time off work for rearranged games,” Harper said.
“We can often get away with one, but playing next Monday would be the third time and I know there will be key players unavailable.
“All I want to be able to do is put out a side that will do us proud. It seems unfair that we’ll be at a disadvantage just because the game has been
“We actually had a full team for Monday, but there was only me and my assistant in the dug-out.”
Harper’s disappointment is two-fold as he felt the Beavers should have won the original fixture, despite the tough conditions.
“We could have called our game off as the pitch was very heavy, but Chelmsford had come a long way,” he said.
“And we could have played on December 3, but if I was a cynic I would suggest that Chelmsford had had a tough FA Cup match on the Saturday before and they did not want to risk going out of two big competitions inside three days. But that’s only if I was being cynical.”
The Beavers handed in their request to the FA yesterday morning (Thursday), and while Harper does not know when a decision will be announced, he is not holding out much hope.
He said: “It seems the FA is very flexible in moving games when there are extreme conditions affecting it, but they are less keen when it is a case of players’ work/life balance.
“It is very easy to forget that players at this level have full-time jobs and I know that some of my lads have been getting in trouble with their bosses over this.”
With the prize of a trip to Hereford of the Blue Square Premier up for grabs, and a possible place in the last 16 of the competition, Harper’s frustration only builds.
He said: “This is a huge game, for both clubs. The finanical reward of £5,000 is not massive, but to a club like ours the achievement would be superb. That’s why we’re hoping the FA will see sense and give us the best chance to field our best side.”
The Beavers are in Ryman Premier League action this weekend with the visit of Bury Town, and they are hoping to bounce back after a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to Margate.