REPORTS ON POSTPONEMENT
REFUNDS AVAILABLE AFTER STAGS POSTPONEMENT
MANSFIELD Town chairman has told Chad today that refunds are definitely available from any Mansfield Town or Torquay fans wanting their money back after last night's late, late postponement.
A drop in temperature saw the pitch freeze hard in front of the West Stand and supporters were only told of the decision to postpone the game less than 15 minutes from kick-off.
Since then confusion has reigned. Torquay fans were furious last night when they were not given a refund after queing at the ticket office.
And some Stags fans were also turned away this morning with office staff unsure of the protocol in such an unusal situation.
However, Chad spoke to chairman Keith Haslam who said: "Fans wanting a refund can have one.
"Otherwise their vouchers will entitle them to entrance to the rearranged game or another home game.
"The whole thing has not been handled well and is far from ideal. But there is no question that we will give refunds to Mansfield or Torquay fans wanting them."
DISAPPOINTMENT AS STAGS GAME IS CALLED OFF AT LAST MINUTE
A LATE, LATE temperature plummet saw Mansfield Town's scheduled home clash with Torquay United called off just before kick-off at Field Mill tonight.
Several pitch inspections, firstly by local referee Dave Naylor, and later by match referee Tony Leake, of Darwen, plus much hard work by groundstaff saw the pitch still playable at 6.30pm.
But by 7.15pm the temperature went suddenly downhill and a section of pitch in front of the West Stand rapidly hardened.
Lancashire referee Leake spoke to both managers as the crowds continued to enter the stadium and it was less than 15 minutes from kick-off when the decision to postpone the fixture was officially announced.
Naturally it was not well received by those who were already in the stadium.
But the referee and both managers were in agreement that it was just unfortunate how it had unfolded.
With Torquay's team and fans already in Mansfield, it did allow a later decision.
But when asked why he didn't call it off earlier, Mr Leake said: "I couldn't call it off as the pitch was fit then.
"Unfortunately the weather deteriorated to such a degree in the final half-hour, I had to call it off.
"If we had tried to kick off I could not guarantee the match would finish.
"To be fair to Mansfield Town I called them earlier and they had a local referee in and he said it was on the firm side but Mansfield were taking every precaution and had a tent with hot air on it.
"Certainly if we had kicked off at 3pm we wouldn't have had a problem."
He added: "When I decided we could play there was a strip of pitch about six or seven yards from the touchline in front of the main stand which was quite hard.
"But half an hour later Torquay's manager Leroy Rosenior expressed some concerns and we found the strip was now 12 yards and rock hard.
"I was in full agreement with him and we spoke to Keith Curle and he agreed it was no longer fit.
"I tried running on it and, although I wasn't running at pace with a ball - because I can't - I wasn't able to stop and turn on it."
Curle said: "The referee did his best to get the game on but it deteriorated.
"The ground staff had done everything they could, but there was one strip that didn't get any sunlight.
"Our groundsman can do everything apart from direct the sunlight!
"It was a big disappointment for both teans and both sets of supporters, but there was nothing we could do.
"The pitch was moving in the right direction earlier on. It was a quality pitch and, if it had been rutted at all, it would have been off long before.
"But we could all see there was a severe drop in temperature and it was starting to freeze up again."
Torquay boss Rosenior added: "The pitch had become dangerous on the far side and I fully agreed with the decision to call it off.
"You realise how bad it is when you can't stand up no matter what studs you wear.
"Someone could have got hurt and the match would have become a lottery.
"I know supporters were not happy with the game being called off, but they certainly wouldn't have been happy watching a farce as it was such an important game for both teams."
Stags will now be hoping for a big thaw before Saturday's scheduled all-ticket showdown with Hull City.
Supporters who bought tickets for last night's game can use them for the fixture when it is rearranged while those wanting a refund can do so in person or by post.
As soon as we have a new date it will be posted on http://www.mansfieldtoday.co.uk.
GREENACRE MOVES WARM FANS' HEARTS
BY STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post, 03 March 2004
Stags' chances of signing Chris Greenacre on loan have been given a massive boost after chairman Keith Haslam said money was available to pay his wages.
The 26-year-old - who left after helping fire Mansfield Town to promotion two years ago - has been told by First Division Stoke that he can go on loan.
And Stags boss Keith Curle has made no secret of his interest in signing the striker, who scored 58 goals in 125 matches for Mansfield.
The decision is now with Greenacre although other teams, including Sheffield Wednesday, are said to be interested.
Curle said: "I am interested in bringing Chrissy here on a temporary basis and he is now available. My interest is well known and all I can do is wait to see what happens."
Meanwhile, thousands of Stags fans were left disappointed and annoyed last night after their promotion clash with Torquay was postponed just 20 minutes before kick off.
Both sets of players had been warming up on the Field Mill turf for more than 15 minutes.
And the fans were taking their seats when referee Tony Leake postponed the match 20 minutes before kick-off because parts of the pitch were frozen and dangerous.
And with more than a 100 Torquay fans making the 240-mile journey north for the match, the announcement was met by jeers and boos from most in the ground.
Mansfield fan Steve Hartshorn, 35, from Skegby, said: "I think it could have been done much earlier, not just before kick-off, and I'm really disappointed for the Torquay fans who travelled so far.
"But the ground was hard and, with sentiment put aside, the players' safety is paramount."
Stuart Eggleshaw, 33, from Pleasley, said: "Looking at the pitch I think it should have gone ahead and I'm disappointed by the decision. A lot of people were looking forward to us getting back to winning ways and I cannot believe a decision was left so late."
But Stags boss Keith Curle agreed with the referee's decision and even marched one supporter onto the pitch to show him why.
He said: "I heard this lad complaining and saying we should have played so I invited him to walk across the pitch with me. We'd only got ten yards when he said 'you're right."
Pitch inspections had been carried out all day and the ground staff used heaters in front of the West Stand to help soften the ground.
Lancashire official Leake, Curle and Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior all gave the game the green light following a final inspection at about 6pm. But as the players were warming up, the temperature dipped.
Leake said: "At 6pm it was playable. Unfortunately, there was a sudden dip in temperature and part of the pitch was rock hard and it would have been dangerous.
"If I'd have kicked off, I could not guarantee the game would have finished. I went out to warm up and could not turn on the pitch because it was that hard - and I don't have to run at pace with the ball. In the end there was no real option but to call it off."
Curle added: "Everybody is disappointed because they were all ready to go, it was a big game and the preparation in the last two days had gone really well."
Rosenior said: "It was given every chance but the players could not stand up on it no matter what studs they had on."
Supporters who bought tickets can keep their stubs for admittance to the rearranged match, on a date to be set.
MANAGERS BACK REF OVER LATE POSTPONEMENT
BY STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post, 03 March 2004
Stags manager Keith Curle defended the decision of referee Tony Leake to call off the game against Torquay less than 15 minutes before kick-off.
He said: "The referee did his best to get the game on, but it deteriorated.
The ground staff had done everything they could, but there was one strip that didn't get any sunlight.
"It was a big disappointment for both teams and both sets of supporters, but there was nothing we could do. There was a severe drop in temperature and it was starting to freeze up again."
Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior agreed, insisting: "The pitch had become dangerous on the far side and I fully agreed with the decision to call it off.
"You realise how bad it is when you can't stand up, no matter what studs you wear.
"Someone could have got hurt and the match would have become a lottery.
"I know supporters were not happy, but they certainly wouldn't have been happy watching a farce as it was such an important game for both teams."
Referee Leake said: "I couldn?t call it off earlier as the pitch was fit to play at that time.
"Unfortunately the weather deteriorated to such a degree in the final half-hour, I had to call it off."
FOOTBALL YOBS ARE WARNED
Evening Post, 03 March 2004
Police today warned people attending Mansfield Town matches that anyone involved in football-related violence will be banned.
It came after trouble after the home match with Lincoln in December and the arrest of 14 people when violence broke out following last Saturday's match with Doncaster.
Police said those who believe they have got away with violence should think again, as they are still scouring CCTV and acting on information from the public. That led to five more local people being arrested yesterday in relation to the game with Lincoln.
Police and the football club say violence will not be tolerated at games and they are working hard to stamp it out and want the public to help.
Superintendent Stuart Wright said: "We will make arrests on the spot and seek banning orders, but that does not mean the work stops there. We are looking at evidence all the time to make arrests further down the line, so the message is you will not get away with football-related violence.
"There is still a lot of evidence to look through and more arrests will follow. But it is a small minority who cause the trouble and create an intimidating atmosphere.
"They are not supporters but instead use football as a tool for violence.''
A Police and Clubs Together (PACT) scheme to cut out football violence has been set up to allow football clubs and the police to work together to tackle the problem.
Anyone with information about the violence should call police on 0115 9670999 or Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555111.
Torquay Evening Herald:
FRUSTRATION FOR GULLS AND FANS
03 March 2004
A game that was still on at seven o'clock was called off 20 minutes later at Field Mill last night as hundreds of mystified fans, including many who had travelled 250 miles from South Devon, tried to come to terms with the decision.
At least Leroy Rosenior and Keith Curle, the respective team bosses of Torquay United and Mansfield Town, agreed with referee Tony Leake's thinking.
What former United winger Curle described as 'an eighth of the pitch' appeared to have refrozen in the space of half-an-hour, to such an extent that it posed a threat to the players' safety.
A series of inspections during the day had declared the key Third Division promotion match ON, including what seemed to be a final 'Yes' by Mr. Leake at around 6.15pm.
The Manchester official made a point of waiting for Rosenior and United's team to arrive before consulting with him and Curle and then giving the go-ahead.
The turnstiles were opened and, finally, the two teams came out to warm up. But then came the stunner at 7.20pm.
Mr. Leake insisted: "The pitch was playable when I looked at it with Keith and Leroy.
"But I've got a responsibility to the players, and I couldn't guarantee their safety by 7.15pm.
"The Torquay fans have got my total sympathy. I have even taken some of them on the pitch with me.
"I hope they can now appreciate why I called it off.
"Mansfield have taken as many precautions as possible, but it just hasn't worked."
The problem was a narrow strip along the new West Stand touchline, which has hardly emerged from shadow in the recent cold weather.
The Stags called in a local contractor with a large moveable heater, to try and thaw the area out. It appeared to have worked at teatime.
But as the temperature dropped nearer to kick-off time, the problem area froze again.
Rosenior commented: "That area has become dangerous. It was fine when we got here at 6.15pm, but when we came out to warm up, it had turned into a skating rink.
"It would be dangerous and someone could get hurt.
"We have given it every chance, but I totally agree with the referee. It's an important game for both teams.
"It's a shame, because the rest of the pitch is perfect.
"We will play the game when the conditions are right."
Curle added: "The referee did his best to try and get the game on. That one area of the pitch - it's one-eighth which never gets enough sun on it - was deteriorating fast.
"I think the right decisions have been made since eleven o'clock this morning.
"You could tell during the warm-up that some of my players weren't happy with that one area. It wasn't playable."
Nevertheless, Radio Five Live's phone and text lines were soon red hot with messages from disgruntled United fans who had made a wasted 500-mile round trip.
No new date has been fixed for the match yet as Mansfield also have to rearrange a fixture with Swansea.
United already have a midweek fixture next Tuesday week at Bristol Rovers.
Field Mill was 'unplayable'
Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior agreed with the decision to postpone their game at Mansfield, despite the fact that it came just 30 minutes before kick-off.
"It was playable when we got here at 6.15pm, but we came out for the warm-up and it's dangerous," he told the BBC.
"It's like an ice rink on the far side, and not safe for the players.
"Mansfield manager Keith Curle came out and totally agreed. It's an important game for both sides and we don't want it to be a lottery.
"We're disappointed, but we've got a big game against Carlisle coming up on Saturday, and we just want to get home as soon as possible and prepare for that."
Referee Tony Leake sympathised with the Gulls' fans who had made the long journey to Field Mill, adding: "I've spoken to some of them and took them onto the pitch, and they then understood why the game was called off.
"I've got a responsibility to the players, and the pitch has deteriorated to such a degree in half an hour that it's now unplayable and clearly a danger."
Latest | March 2004