Leyton Orient fans have every right to be unhappy about Halifax Town postponement
PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 January 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
Saturday’s National League match wasn’t called off until 10.42am on the day when most Orient supporters were already en route to the Shay
There was a lot of frustration, and understandably so, from Leyton Orient supporters at 10.42am on Saturday when Halifax Town confirmed the game at the Shay had been postponed.
What added to the annoyance of the O’s fans was the way the whole affair was handled by the National League club based in West Yorkshire.
It started on Wednesday at 1.48pm when Halifax’s official Twitter account tweeted a picture of snow on the Shay pitch, which led to several social media users asking why no covers were used.
With snow forecast for that day, it was a fair question for both the Shaymen and Orient fans to ask.
Two days later, on Friday, Halifax tweeted at 10.22am ‘there is no planned pitch inspection’ for Saturday’s match against the O’s.
Again, if this is what the Shay club thought was best then it is fair enough, but another local team in the same division approached things differently.
Guiseley, also of West Yorkshire, were set to host Barrow on Saturday, but decided on Friday, at 3.42pm, to call a pitch inspection for 6.30pm later that day and soon after the inspection confirmed the match had been postponed due to a frozen pitch.
At this point, it would have made sense for Halifax, who are only 16.1 miles away from Guiseley, to either think about calling an early inspection of the pitch or to put covers on the surface.
Unfortunately it is understood they didn’t do either, despite extremely low temperatures overnight, and on Saturday morning O’s fans were still none the wiser.
Halifax went as far as tweeting again at 9am about the upcoming match before 11 minutes later announcing a pitch inspection would take place at 10.30am.
This, again understandably, was met with criticism from Orient fans, many of whom were either already on a train or getting ready to board one to get to the game.
Why the pitch inspection took place at 10.30am and not earlier is bizarre, especially considering the temperature stayed at 2 degrees between 8am and 4pm.
Rain was also forecast at 11am, but on top of all this, Halifax decided not to cover the Shay pitch overnight, which was obvious because snow and frost was visibly present on the surface when Orient did a short video of the pitch shortly after the game was called off.
All in all it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Plenty of O’s supporters had a wasted afternoon because Halifax waited so late to call for a pitch inspection.
Fortunately for some, Virgin Trains East Coast allowed Orient fans to use their tickets to return on earlier services than their booked train.
Others, who had driven up the day before and stayed overnight or had set off early to make a day of it, were left even more frustrated at wasting time on the road when they could have been at home had Halifax decided to call it off early like Guiseley did.
A statement by the club read: “FC Halifax Town has confirmed that due to the overnight temperatures that there was a need for a pitch inspection at 10.30am ahead of today’s home game with Leyton Orient.
“The result has seen the match official Joe Hull call the game off. As at 5pm yesterday, the game against Leyton Orient was on and the pitch was playable. The overnight weather has been worse than forecasted hence the very unfortunate postponement.
“There are a number of other clubs in the area in the same position. We apologise for any inconvenience caused however we have communicated all match information as timely and accurately as possible.”
Unfortunately Halifax’s apology is too little, too late. Orient fans, like many others up and down the country, deserve better.
Supporters of the O’s and Halifax had voiced concerns midway through the week that the game would probably be off, so why were the fans - the people who make football what it is – once again ignored and treated poorly?