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Clubs had to stick by the SFA rulebook

By Matt Leslie

Sam Mackay, Wick Academy v Nairn County, Wick Academy, Wick Academy FC, Highland League
Sam Mackay, Wick Academy v Nairn County, Wick Academy, Wick Academy FC, Highland League

THE SFA rulebook stood firm as gales hit the north and blew away any chance of Wick Academy getting their match against Nairn County played.

At 8.30am on Saturday, an SFA official arrived at Harmsworth Park and deemed both the pitch and the weather acceptable for a game of football.

This decision was relayed by phone to Nairn who set off 45 minutes later.

Academy announced on Twitter that the Highland League fixture would take place, with one or two reacting with puzzlement at the decision. After all, the winds were picking up in strength and forecasts firmly indicated that gusts of up to 65 mph were to be expected by the afternoon.

The forecasts proved to be correct and by the time a second SFA official showed up at 2pm the winds were so bad that there was no alternative but to call the game off.

Nairn, meanwhile, had arrived in Wick half an hour before the announcement and had to trudge back onto the team bus for another long journey.

It was the correct call to make – one only had to look across the road from Harmsworth Park to see shoppers at Lidl being blown back into the store as they struggled to get out.

However, there were a few rumblings about the lateness of the decision – especially given that Nairn could have been spared what was a wasted journey.

But Wick chairman James Innes pointed out that both clubs were beholden to the rulebook on cancelling a game.

He said: "There's no big controversy surrounding this. Clubs, be it ourselves or anyone else, can't call a game off.

"It has to be an SFA official and at the time of the first inspection, while it was windy, the game could have been played. The call has to be made on 'present conditions', no matter how they change later on.

"We kept in constant contact with Nairn throughout. By the time the second SFA official showed up, conditions had deteriorated and he decided that 'at the present time' no football could be played.

"Nairn fully understood the situation and, had the situation been reversed, they would have been bound by the rules as well. Both clubs respect each official's decisions that were made at the time."

Innes's counterpart at Nairn, Donald Matheson, fully understood Wick's predicament.

"It's just one of those things," he said. "As an SFA official passed the first inspection, we were obliged to get on the bus and make our way up to Wick.

"The journey itself was a combination of nice scenery and some rock 'n' roll moments as the bus encountered the wind – especially at Berriedale.

"As we were 10 miles outside of Wick, the wind really picked up and it was a bit hairy. Once we got there we suspected that this wouldn't go ahead. They tried kicking a ball about but it was impossible to do so without it coming back.

"The host club can't make a postponement call for wind. They can do so for waterlogged and frozen pitches provided photographic evidence is sent but not for wind as you can't take a picture of that.

"These things happen and hopefully the rearranged match will take place on one of the free Saturday dates that will be coming along during the season."

Academy took the opportunity of the postponement to sit down with midfielder Sam Mackay and thrash out a new contract.

Mackay has signed a deal that will keep him with the Scorries until 2020.

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