Minibus charge not the reason Tooting & Mitcham only had 10 players for game

Proud: Phil Simpson was impressed with how his players dealt with a squad shortage last week

Proud: Phil Simpson was impressed with how his players dealt with a squad shortage last week

First published in Sport by , Sports Reporter

Rafa Benitez may be the most under pressure interim manager on the planet but at least the Chelsea boss can field 11 players at the start of a game - something his counterpart at Tooting & Mitcham couldn't last week.

Phil Simpson, interim boss at the Terrors after Jamie Martin resigned, could only start with 10 players and no subs against Eastbourne Town last Wednesday - although it was eventually boosted to 11 when Lee Hall arrived on to the field a minute after kick off having been detained at work.

There have been many conspiracy theories surrounding the absence of the rest of the financially-stricken Terrors squad, the most damning being a claim that players were asked to pay £10 to travel on a minibus to the game and refused.

Simpson has laughed off that suggestion though and was adamant players' work commitments were the only thing that got in the way.

"We had a full squad at about 3pm then, down to work circumstances and outside circumstances, we ended up with 11 and started the game with 10 as Lee Hall was travelling from Hertfordshire," said Simpson.

"It wasn't the case the players had to pay to get on the minibus.

"It was nothing to do with that and I do not know where that rumour came from. Every club has their financial problems but you could not charge players £10 to get a minibus. I just laughed when I heard it.

"When I was a part-time footballer myself I had lots of problems trying to make it to a game on time, it's part and parcel of part-time football.

"When I explained to the players we only had 10, immediately the feeling in the dressing room was 'ok, that's alright we have got to get on with it'.

That was without me saying anything at all and I was very impressed with that and they played well."

Despite the disadvantage of not being able to make any changes, Tooting pushed Eastbourne hard for most of the game but lost 1-0. Saturday's game at Burgess Hill Town was postponed due to the weather.

Tomorrow, Tooting travel to Leatherhead and then host promotion-chasing Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday in a south London derby that Simpson cannot wait for.

"I am really looking forward it and the boys are too," he said

"When we played Dulwich on New Year's Day I thought we played very well and we were unlucky to leave with only a point."

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