Monday, July 14, 2014

Northern Bulls Catch Up With Eagley FC Chairman

Ruth Walkden of the Northern Bulls has managed to catch up with the chairman of Eagley FC.

The friendly against Eagley – the final word

As some of you know I was very unhappy at the turn of events on Saturday, particularly for those fans who had wasted time and petrol on a fruitless journey. I contacted Bolton News this morning and from that was able to secure an interview with Mike Buckley, the newly appointed (since last Thursday), Chairman of Eagley FC. I spoke to him earlier this evening.

When was the decision made to play the game behind closed doors?

He took over the club last Thursday following the resignation of the previous Chairman who had arranged the match following a request from HUFC. There was a considerable amount of correspondence from Hereford fans, some was asking for the game to be cancelled, others contained threats if the match was to go ahead. He has kept all the emails. When he took over he did not want to get involved in the “internal wranglings” of another club.
At a meeting on Friday evening it was decided to move the game to another venue.

Who made that decision?

He had decided that it would be better to play the match at another venue where the pitch would be better. It was played at ESSA (an academy with a sports centre) a few miles away in Bolton.

On what grounds was the decision made?

Although Mike was keen for the game to go ahead, the Eagley pitch was not ready, there were holes in the pitch and the grass was very long. It was also feared there could be trouble with Hereford fans as some fans in their emails had suggested they would invade the pitch.
Mike insisted that the match was not held behind closed doors and that there had been some HUFC fans present.
He was quite sure that there had been no request from Eagley for the police to be involved. When I asked about fans being stopped at the motorway services he said that the police monitor Facebook and Twitter and use intelligence gathered from there. He gave me an example when the police had advised him of potential issues at a firework display, from information gleaned from social media.
I advised him that we had been to many away matches last season where there was no segregation and there had been no trouble.
He finished the interview by apologising for any inconvenience caused by the change in venue.

My comments

Whilst I give him respect for agreeing to the interview (its an amateur club and he is a volunteer), some of this just doesn’t add up.
• If the venue was changed on Friday night why wasn’t it announced earlier that the game had been moved. We knew Saturday morning that the game had been brought forward in time but probably too late for fans driving a distance. I rang on Saturday about 11 a.m. (from a Bolton number) requesting match information but my call was not returned.
• A tweet (now deleted) on Saturday at 12:15 stated that the game had been moved to a “closed facility”. It was only today I found out it was at ESSA. None of that suggests they wanted any Bulls fans there! Most (if not all) of the tweets relating to the game have been removed.
• I’d be very interested to hear from any telepathic Bulls fans who saw the game – I haven’t seen anything on the forums to suggest there were any. Perhaps the people that Mike saw were players’ family members?

My conclusion for what its worth is that if a pre-season match is shrouded in secrecy, calls aren’t returned and timings and venue are unclear, its probably best to leave the car where it is, put the kettle on or get a beer from the fridge and chill out.