The green light has been given for the return to football action, albeit, certainly in terms of the Joma Devon & Exeter League, with not all the teams that started the 2020/21 season coming back to complete the campaign after the league said it would not force clubs to play.
Ottery St Mary have teams playing across an number of league’s and chairman Mikey Ringer is well placed to share his views on all things ‘football re-start’.
He says: “It’s obviously wonderful news that we can get some football played before the end of the 2020/21season. However, as we are finding at out club, it’s not as straightforward as ‘let’s get the game back on’ – far, from it and there remain some details that no doubt will be addressed after the government confirm the continued pathway out of Lockdown – certainly from a ‘playing football’ perspective.”
He continued: “It is likely the re-start will once again see us unable to use dressing rooms and this does leave the respective club kit folk – and what job they do by the way – having their hands full in terms of keeping track with all the kit. It’s easy enough when the kit is all taken off and dumped on the dressing room floor, but when players are urged to pitch up at games ready for action and unable to access dressing rooms, it means a right royal headache for those tasked with making sure all the kit is accounted for!”
The Ottery chief then turned his attention to other matters, saying: “I also get the toilet issue and the fact that we can open them to folk 30 minute before and then for a spell after, but what about during any action?
“In addition to that we are going to need to increase our stock of hand sanitizer so we can keep everyone as safe as possible.
“Next comes the spectators and, as I understand it, that will be one adult per U18 player – Hmmmmm, that will no doubt be an issue for some parents with regard to youth players and indeed, how will that be policed effectively for let’s not lose sight of the fact that, at all clubs like our own, these team coaches are volunteers.”
Next on Mikey’s radar was the subject of ‘hospitality’ and he said: “With regard to hospitality and that very important aspect of football which is the social side that we all enjoy post action. From April 12 we have the ability to once again serve drinks etc to an outside-the-club-house audience. So, with a game on, can we not then run our outside table service? At Washbrook Meadows, our out door area is adjacent to our main pitch.”
He continued: “Reading some of the remarks on social media with regard to the ‘re-start’ I do think some people do fall into the trap of make ridiculous statements without having ever been in the position of a league organiser/official – not to mention, thinking of club officials, all of whom are doing the job on a voluntary basis.
“What I would add is that the ‘keyboard’ warriors also often do not take into consideration the fact that the footballing authorities always try to act in the best interests of the masses – not just for the few – and, where the FA are concerned, be that on a national or county level, are also run as a business and they, like us clubs, have suffered massively in financial terms over the past 14 months of the pandemic.
“What I feel none of us must lose sight of is that without them [the FA] we would not be able to operate and, as much as people seem to enjoy chastising governing bodies at every given opportunity, we’d be nothing without them to run our leagues and give us some sense of direction.”
Mikey rounded things off saying: “To put a positive spin to round things off I would like to add that we, as a club with men’s, women’s and youth football, are collectively thrilled to bits to be back busy preparing for the big ‘re-start’, and I can tell you we are collectively buzzing to get going again.”