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'It's left a bad taste in the mouth' – Needham boss Wilkins after 'forced withdrawal' from FA Trophy

PUBLISHED: 13:52 17 December 2018

Groundstaff and roller are at the ready, but the standing water by the touchline is clear evidence of why Saturday's FA Trophy tie at Weymouth was postponed. Needham have since withdrawn from the competition, Picture: CARL MARSTON

Groundstaff and roller are at the ready, but the standing water by the touchline is clear evidence of why Saturday's FA Trophy tie at Weymouth was postponed. Needham have since withdrawn from the competition, Picture: CARL MARSTON

Archant

Needham Market boss, Richard Wilkins, has hit out at the roles played by the Football Association, and also Weymouth FC, which led to his Club’s reluctant decision to withdraw from the FA Trophy this morning.

Needham Market boss, Richard Wilkins, upset by the circumstances that led to the club's 'forced withdrawal' from the FA Trophy.Needham Market boss, Richard Wilkins, upset by the circumstances that led to the club's 'forced withdrawal' from the FA Trophy.

The Marketmen’s scheduled first round proper tie at Weymouth was postponed on Saturday, just under 90 minutes before kick-off, due to heavy and incessant rain leading to a waterlogged pitch.

Wilkins’ men had travelled down to Dorset the previous night, and were at the Bob Lucas Stadium when the game was called off.

The match was rescheduled for tomorrow night, which Needham Market felt was “unreasonable” given the fact that their players would again have had to request time off work from their respective employers, at very short notice.

The Suffolk club wanted the match to be played this Saturday, or even the following Saturday, but the Football Association turned down their request.

““We have not withdrawn from the competition, rather we have been forced to withdraw,” explained Wilkins this lunchtime.

“Our hands are tied.

“I think the letter that the Club sent out (to the FA) is the 100% truth. They are the facts laid down.

“We have lads who work on building sites who just can’t get a day-and-a-half or two days off work, just like that. They would get the sack!

“We also have lads who work in retail. It’s the worst and busiest week of the whole year, and you can’t expect them to be taking days off work.

“I think it is all totally unrealistic and totally unreasonable, at this level of football (Step Three of non-league).

“There has been no commonsense shown on behalf of the FA.

“If the situation was the other way around, and that happened to Weymouth, I am 100% sure that we (Needham) would have offered them another Saturday date.

“I certainly think that Weymouth could have been more obliging. We would have been, if we had been the home team.

“Weymouth say that if Saturday’s game had been a draw, then they would have come to ours for the replay on the Tuesday, but that’s totally different because they knew that that might happen. They would have been ready and prepared.

“Our situation is very different. The circumstances are totally different.

“So I think it’s the right decision for us to have made. The FA have not acted on our advice, and not shown any commonsense.

“It took seven hours for us to get down to Weymouth – that was what it took on the way down (Friday) and on the return trip on Saturday.

“The FA said that it should take us a little over four hours, but even Lewis Hamilton in his Formula One car could not do it that quickly!

“We thought this might happen, but we are very disappointed with the stance taken by the FA, and I’m also disappointed with Weymouth FC. We would have made it easier for their travel, if they were in our situation.

“Weymouth have not really communicated with us throughout, despite them being a club from the same level attached to the same league (Evo-Stik Southern League).

“I’ve had feedback from other managers who also say that it is totally ridiculous.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it’s left a bad taste in the mouth.

“We did not want to withdraw, but we have been forced to,

“It’s very, very disappointing, because we had done so well to get so far in the competition.

“There will no doubt by an inquest, but we stand firm by our decision. I think the FA should take a good look at themselves.

“It’s impossible to ask our players and staff to take one-and-a-half or two days off work this week, so we will be sticking to our guns.

“I stand by the decision of the Club, 100%, and I’m sure this will happen again in the future, to another club.

“It’s a bad day, and it’s very very upsetting,” added Wilkins.

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