It took a couple of days longer than it should have done.
But on Monday football was finally postponed in this country at all levels. And that is a result worth celebrating.
Because at the moment when we’re in a global pandemic, football – and all sport – doesn’t really matter. At a time when we’re being urged to avoid unnecessary social contact or non-essential travel, it seems mind-numbingly stupid to do the opposite, simply to enjoy a game that can wait.
Teams’ tallies can be added to at a later date when the number of points in the table becomes something worth focusing on rather than the figures in the coronavirus’ infected and death-based columns.
Football is a game. That’s all it is. One I’ve loved from the age of three or four. One I still play at 32. One that has given me some of my greatest memories and friendships. Yet right now, I couldn’t care less about it.
I played on Saturday, as did some other footballers at varying levels of the sport’s pyramid (see table far right). However, I didn’t really want to. I was doing it more out of loyalty to my team-mates. While they may feel differently to me – as will many reading this column – I was ecstatic when the decision about playing again this weekend was taken out of my hands. It removed a risk, greater than the one you take every week when you cross the white line, that for me simply isn’t needed.
For some reason – despite the professional leagues standing down sooner – others felt necessary to carry on.
Yes, thousands of people weren’t going to be watching Ang Com Two fixtures. But what about the players’ safety. Did that not matter?
How and why did the National League ever think it was acceptable to carry on?
It’s clear to see that sadly a lot of clubs are going to be hugely affected by this virus. But there’s a good chance the spread of coronavirus will have been enhanced further by some unnecessary rounds of fixtures at the weekend.
Imagine if directly, or indirectly, just playing or attending that one match on Saturday or Sunday led to further confirmed cases or, even worse, deaths.
That’s the reality of the situation because we’re not playing games here.
Football should never even be considered a matter of life or death – even when all of this is over.
One win from the greatest occasion
It’s so close they can almost smell it.
The players of West Norfolk are just one more victory away from playing at the country’s home of rugby. Another win during this sensational season and they’ll be able to line up at Twickenham.
To be this close is an achievement in itself. Yet it’ll probably count for nothing if they fall just short of the greatest occasion possible for a grassroots player in England.
In front of a bumper crowd at Gatehouse Lane on Saturday the London Three Eastern Counties title hopefuls ended Reeds Weybridge’s 52-game winning streak to win the RFU London and SE Senior Vase Final.
An April trip to Gloucester-based Chosen Hill Former Pupils is what stands between the boys from North Wootton and the promised land.
However, that was initially scheduled for April 11 and on Monday the RFU declared that the sport would be suspended at all levels until April 14 due to coronavirus. So they may have to wait a little longer yet before they find out if their dreams can be realised.
Our free weekly football-based prediction competition has also been affected by coronavirus.
• The aim remains for 10 rounds to be played, even if midweek ones are required once football has resumed.
• The next three rounds will count towards March’s top-scorer prize. The player with the most points from those rounds (31, 32, 33 & 34) will win £25.
• The next four rounds will count for April’s top-scorer prize. The player with the most points from those rounds (35, 36, 37 & 38) will win £25.
• The final three rounds will count for May’s top-scorer prize. The player with the most points from those rounds (39, 40 & 41) will win £25.
• Any tiebreaks will now be decided by drawing a name of eligible players from the hat.
• The end-of-the-season winner will still collect £250.
• If a tiebreak is needed at the end of the season, the player with the most round wins will triumph. If tied, the winner will be drawn at random.
• All of the above applies to the current Premier League ruling around coronavirus and is subject to change.
• We will continue to use Premier League, mainly, Football League or FA Cup fixtures to make up four-match rounds where possible.
• If no further fixtures are played this season there will be no April or May £25 winners. David Lane (last round’s top scorer) will pocket the £25 March prize, while current leader Peter
Jermany will collect the £250 prize and the competition will draw to a close.