It's a red card from me for calling off football matches at such short notice/ Dave Thomas column

I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed the 'Watford Experience' when I’ve been there following Burnley.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:30 pm
Football fan Dave Thomas is among the thousands of fans angry that games can b be called off at such short notice

Getting into Watford and finding the ground is fine. Getting out of Watford and navigating the one-way system; you need geography A' levels.

I can also remember when they came to Burnley and won 7-4. A friend we had taken with us for her first football game asked us ‘Was football always as good as this?’

Anyway, here’s the next gripe. I guess Mrs T and moi weren’t the only ones to get halfway to Burnley to hear that the game was off last week. We were heading towards Halifax from Leeds when a chum phoned to tell us.

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Trust me doing that drive around 5 o clock when the ring roads are clogged up with homeward bound traffic is no joke at the best of times. The language that came out from me; half of it were words I’d never heard before. When I got back home, I had to look up what they meant.

But others had worse journeys especially those that had travelled far greater distances than us. Then there were the supporters who always stay overnight.

Covid: what else. But to postpone the game at such short notice with just a couple of hours to go, had all of us blazing. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall of Sean Dyche’s office.

The hazy story began to emerge during the evening, gleaned from social media, Sky and local reporters. The Watford team had been in Burnley since the day before, staying at the Crow Wood Hotel. No mention of covid but they did have six players injured and two doubtful.

On the matchday morning several of them and staff were in the gym. They alerted the Premier League to the covid situation around 2pm in the afternoon. We might deduce from that that they did their tests in the morning and the results came three or four hours later. The Premier League met around 4pm and decided to call off the game.

There was no indication at that point as to how many Watford players had covid. There is absolutely no transparency. Burnley wanted to play the game, Watford didn’t. But they had taken all their kit and equipment to the dressing rooms in preparation.

Watford coaches of supporters were beginning to get nearer Burnley. Burnley fans were arriving unaware yet of the news. Some, like us, had turned round but many did not know until they arrived.

“I wondered why parking was so easy,” said one of them.

Some Watford fans headed to the pub, The Royal Dyche, and were delighted to tweet that they had found four pints of beer at just £8 40. To put that in some kind of perspective, a double burger and chips at Arsenal is over £18.

Burnley Football Club loses money of course, stewards and staff to pay who turned up for the game.

Catering staff in the Bob Lord and Longside. Much of the food went to waste although some of it went to Pastor Mick and Church on the Street.

On a day when 76,000 cases of covid were recorded it’s maybe no surprise that some of them were Watford footballers. But hundreds, if not thousands of us, remain angry that a game can be postponed at such short notice, just two hours before kick-off.

And the question remains, just how pleased were Watford to get the game called off in view of their existing injury situation?

Watford Football Club will refund their supporters their travel costs. I wonder if they might do the same for Burnley fans. The Spurs game was called off at the last minute because of a snow storm.

That was just sod’s law, hardly man made. But the Watford game… hmmm… let’s just say it suited Watford.

Conspiracy theories filled the airwaves.

Stop Press: The Burnley game at Villa on Saturday was called off with just two hours to go. Burnley fans already there. It cannot go on. Four fans for example had spent £270 on train tickets. Hundreds were either there or nearly there.

The word shambles springs to mind.