BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Linlithgow Rose have hit out at the late postponement of their Scottish Cup clash with Wick Academy – just 40 minutes before kick-off – after revealing their wasted journey north cost them over £3,000.
The Junior outfit left for their marathon trek north on Friday and funded an overnight stay for their players and staff in Brora ahead of the third round tie.
A pitch inspection called by the SFA on Friday cleared them to set off on the gruelling 530-mile round trip to Caithness, but the tie was called off by referee Nick Walsh at 2.20 p.m.
The West Lothian side knew as soon as they arrived on the Saturday that the Harmsworth Park surface was unplayable and have questioned the decision by a local referee to pass the pitch less than 24 hours earlier.
They insist the match should not have been given the go-ahead on the Friday, which would have saved them a considerable four-figure sum.
Rose secretary Jim Harkins said: “We do feel the match referee made the correct decision. The pitch wasn’t playable.
“But our big concern is that it was passed playable at 3.30 on the Friday afternoon and there had been no more rain.
“Yet when the match referee came he said it was 100 per cent unplayable at 2 p.m. on the Saturday.
“Our concern is who decided on the Friday this pitch was playable when it was never playable?
“We were waiting at Linlithgow to board the bus on the Friday because we were leaving at 4 o’clock. We waited until we got the call to say this referee had passed the pitch playable.
“We assumed from there on in, with the overnight weather conditions being okay, that the game would go ahead.
“But when we arrived there and walked on the park, right away we knew it was unplayable.
“The right decision would have been for the game to have been called off on the Friday and that would have saved us a lot of money.”
Rose will this leave for the second attempt to play the fixture at 7 a.m. on Saturday, taking their expenses for the tie to around £4,000.
However, Harkins has revealed that, should the match be called off for a second time, the East Superleague could struggle to field a team because it would then be rescheduled for next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Harkins, who is eyeing a glamour away tie in today’s draw in a bid to recoup the club’s losses should they progress, added: “We’ll leave on Saturday at seven o’clock in the morning but there’s nothing to say that the weather wouldn’t change in the time we’re travelling so that the game is called off again. The weather forecast isn’t great.
“The big problem we’ve got now is that beyond Saturday the next date for the game would be a midweek game on the following Tuesday or the Wednesday.
“We would have severe problems trying to get players off work, etc. to go and play a midweek match at Wick. I don’t know what would happen.”