Next Game: Pre-Season Friendly - Melksham Town Away on Saturday 7th July

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Conference shows the way with local derbies.

With many football games called off yesterday one Toffee's fan has written to to complain about the long distances some supporters are being asked to travel to follow their team over the holiday period.

Dear Old Farts Running Football...

Please, please bring back local derbies over the Christmas/New year period. It's absolutely ridiculous in the current situation where we have fans travelling all day just to find the game called off.

The Conference manage to do it, and pull in bumper crowds in the process (3,697 at Cambridge vs Stevenage; 4,921 at York vs Scarborough)

Obviously some teams will have to travel a bit (in the Premiership, one of the three teams in the north-east and West Midlands each time, and either Portsmouth or whoever gets to play them), but nothing as stupid as Newcastle vs Charlton followed a few days later by Tottenham vs Newcastle. Or Torquay at Stockport. Or Bournemouth vs Barnsley. Or Plymouth vs Preston.

I've heard safety fears used as an excuse against this. The idea of people off work drinking all day before a local derby is obviously a possibility, but that could be alleviated somewhat by keeping the higher-risk games to weekends/bank holidays with earlier kick-offs and potentially less volatile ones for the evenings.

For example, I can understand the police wanting, say Chelsea vs West Ham kept away from an evening kick-off over the holiday period, but there is no reason why Chelsea could not play say Charlton, or West Ham play Fulham on those evenings instead. One of Tottenham and Arsenal would then play Portsmouth, and another would have to travel to the West Midlands. Two of the West Midlands teams could play each other, six of the teams in the north-west could play each other with the other playing against the team not playing in a north-east derby.

This is clearly not perfect, as unfortunately geography does not always work thus. In the Conference for example, Exeter City's 'local' games are I believe against Aldershot, Forest Green and Hereford - none of which are particularly close - but it is at least a gesture to the fans.

Of course it won't happen, and we'll still go to the games, but it really should at least be considered.

Matt Collins (sulking cause he's at work and nobody else seems to be).