Wet weather rescheduling can be a muddy issue
WHEN should football matches be rescheduled and under what circumstances should play continue?
It's a hot issue that surfaced with the mud when the Ipswich Knights field at Bundamba copped a heavy workout last weekend.
After caution cancelling wet weather games early in the season, the decision was made to proceed with Sunday's Brisbane Premier League match between the Knights and North Star.
A morning inspection revealed no puddles on the field, clearing the way for the games to be played.
However, it didn't take long for the field to deteriorate on Sunday.
That came after a National Premier League match was also contested on the surface in rainy conditions the night before.
Dedicated groundsman Garth Mitchell conceded it was a tough decision knowing when to reschedule matches.
He's looked after the Knights main field for two decades and knows what damage can be done when games are played on heavy fields.
"If it was early in the year, you'd get a chance of getting the grass to grow back over it," he said.
"But now because it is so cold and the frosts, it's going to be hard to grow that grass back in those areas.
"It is going to be bumpy and the problem you get now is you put water on it to keep it moist but because it's so cold, the water doesn't seep in."
No one should be blamed for giving the match a go-ahead, given all the wet weather challenges administrators face.
However, Mitchell said player safety has to be a major consideration. That's where referees play a part.
"Even though there's no surface water, if he thinks players are slipping over and might be sliding into tackles, he can deem it unsafe and probably call it off," Mitchell said.
That wasn't the case on Sunday as the Knights battled on the heavy field to win 2-1.
The night before, the playing surface held up reasonably well as Western Pride lost 2-0 to Northern Fury from Townsville.
Consideration for teams travelling from other centres and promoting the game regionally are other factors that come into decision making.
"You'd like to say you are supporting Western Pride and helping them out," the former player and long-time football supporter said.
"You don't want to be calling it off unless you really have to.
"When you have a look at it in the morning you're trying to keep in mind the fact that North Star are travelling from where they are, give them a bit of notice."
Mitchell rolled the field at 7am on Sunday before chatting to Knights president Troy Beahan and deciding to proceed.
"We've got another four or five home games but at least we're into July," Mitchell said. "If it had of been April or May, you'd sit there and think don't play."
Ipswich City Council has faced similar challenges all season deciding when to allow play on the North Ipswich Reserve and at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
With football and rugby league sharing the grounds for training and matches this year, it's become a fragile situation to manage.
Today's matches at the Zone 4 carnival at Briggs Road have been moved to the second field due to the main surface becoming so boggy.
What do you think?
When should games be played or rescheduled in wet weather?
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