Thursday, January 14, 2010

Avenue's La Liga facility is boon in bad weather

Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

By Ian Whiting

With Bradford Park Avenue due to face FC United of Manchester in the UniBond League Premier Division on Saturday, it could be a third club who hold most sway on the call as to whether the game goes ahead.

FC United, a splinter faction of the Old Trafford giants of a similar name disillusioned with the Glazers’ takeover, play their home games at Gigg Lane.

That means their landlords, Bradford City’s Coca-Cola League Two rivals Bury, will have a vested interest.

Avenue chief executive Bob Blackburn admitted: “We are preparing as though there is no chance whatsoever of the game being played.

“Kevin Hainsworth (one of Blackburn’s co-directors) has been liaising with FC United and they have more or less told him that, but league rules state that a decision cannot be made until tomorrow at the earliest.

“I suppose Bury will have the final say and, after all, it is their pitch and they don’t want any more disruption to their own season.

"At this stage, we are all just hoping the temperature lifts next week and we get some football on.

“I’m getting to the stage where I get up on a Saturday morning full of the joys and then slip into depression when I realise we don’t have a game.

"Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to spend a Saturday with the wife and family now and again – but that’s what summer’s for.”

Avenue manager John Deacey still has his squad of finely-honed players on a minute’s stand-by but the roses clash is likely to be shelved.

With Avenue in second spot, Deacey is hoping that all the division’s clubs suffer the same fate.

If Avenue cannot play, he will want the Retford United versus Boston United game off as well.

That clash sees first hosting third and, whatever the result, it would mean Avenue losing ground in the table without playing.

“Both of those clubs have played more games than us but with this frustrating situation, you feel that the need for points on the board is even more necessary than in a normal season,” said Blackburn.

“We have already planned Saturday's training session, to be honest. That’s how sure we are that the game will be off. We have got three seven-a-side pitches at our La Liga soccer centre and that is handy for us.

“They are all together and if we lift the curtains we have an area the size of at least a third of a full pitch.

"We have kept them clear for Saturday for our lads to get a decent-sized surface to train properly on.

“The facilities are there and better than most non-league clubs, so we use them.

"I have heard that even our neighbours City have experienced difficulties training over this exceptionally icy spell, so we might even be in better shape than some Football League clubs when we do finally get back into it.

“John has also had the lads in at a boxing gym in Leeds while the weather has been so bad.

"They have been football training in midweek and if the game has been off at the weekend, they have gone through their paces with these boxercise classes.”