THE 1874 COLUMN – by Matt Waters

CAPTAIN Matt Woolley revealed he believes they cannot use the enforced Covid-19 lockdown as an excuse after crashing out of the FA Vase at the hands of West Auckland Town.

He said: “It’s the same for both teams so we can’t use lockdown as an excuse.

“They were sharper than us, quicker to the ball than we were and the best team won on the day.

“At the moment it still feels like we are in the unknown. We are waiting for the Government to review the tier system and we’ll see what impact it has on the season.

“However, we cannot use this uncertainty as an excuse for the 90 minutes we put out on a Saturday.

Despite the scoreline favouring the visitors favourably, it didn’t fully reflect the balance of play and Woolley told me he believes the side that made the least mistakes won on the day.

“I think mistakes cost us. At 2-0 down we hit the post and they went down the other end and scored,” he said.

“Jake (Parker) had a great chance to make it 3-2 and had that gone in, it would have been a great end to the game.

“I don’t think they cut us open or kept us penned in. I think they were efficient playing in the right areas and ultimately made less mistakes than us.”

The reality for all clubs at this level is that the longer the uncertainty continues, the harder it will become to finish and Matt added it has a similar feeling to our 2017-18 season.

“I think we’ll be getting flashbacks to the year we had the Vase run with the number of fixtures we had to play and that’ll be the same for all clubs.

“I think the rugby union got it right with saying we’ll wait until January before looking to start the season.”

Not only does the current plan add to the physical strain, but Woolley believes it shows complete disregard to player welfare.

“The FA are the FA – everyone in non-league appreciates they’re interested in looking after the top teams and the National League and North/South have joined that elite bracket and there’s disregard for everyone else.

“We’ve experienced that numerous times – in the Vase year we played 28 games in 44 days.

“Last year we had the season hastily pulled away from us and this year that could happen to many other clubs.”

Finally, Matt added that he thinks players will go on to do other things and football will lose out because of the uncertainty everyone is facing.

“I think clubs will lose a lot of good players,” he said.

“We get paid expenses here and there but nowhere near enough to rely on it.

“Family comes first, work comes first and we to provide for our own. I think a lot of players will leave it until football is in a more stable position.”