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Heartache as county FA pulls the plug on cup finals

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Four local football teams have been denied their place in cup finals after the Cambridgeshire FA made all of its knockout competitions null and void.

March Town were due to play Cambridge City in the Cambridgeshire Invitational Cup Final, Outwell Swifts were to take on Cherry Hinton Reserves in the Cambs Junior Cup and AFC Walpole and Parson Drove Reserves were to meet in the North Cambs Junior Cup Final.

Drove Reserves were also through to the final of the Cambs Lower Junior Challenge Cup.

March are also in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One Cup Final and the future of this competition has not been decided.

March boss Arron Duke. (32062877)
March boss Arron Duke. (32062877)

It was highly unlikely, given the coronavirus crisis, that the matches would be played this season but it had been hoped they would take place in the summer or early next season.

But the Cambridgeshire FA and Cambridgeshire County League held an emergency conference call on Thursday and decided all Cambridgeshire FA county cup competitions that have not been completed this season will be declared null and void.

March manager Arron Duke told the Citizen: “It is frustrating but there are bigger issues to worry bout currently. The only issue I have is, could we not have waited until next season? It has been done before.”

Parson Drove Reserves manager Martin Pettit (32105893)
Parson Drove Reserves manager Martin Pettit (32105893)

Drove Reserves boss Martin Pettit said: “It is disgusting. I have 17- and 18-year-old lads in my squad who have played out of their skins to get to these cup finals.

“I have complained to the Cambs FA as the clubs are meant to make the decisions in this league and yet no-one had a say.

“My lads have fought so had to beat teams from higher leagues. My young keeper Ashley Clarke is distraught. He has been our hero in two penalty shoot-out wins and has never played in a cup final.

“All county competitios were down to the semi-finals and finals and these games could have been played in pre-season.”

Outwell Swifts manager Jason Day. (32057840)
Outwell Swifts manager Jason Day. (32057840)

Outwell Swifts manager Jason Day said: “We are disappointed we don’t get the chance to try to win our fourth cup in two seasons. But some things are more important than football. Fortunately we won the Creake Shield last week.”

Walpole boss Harry Griffin added: “All the lads are gutted. We are disappointed that the league couldn’t find a way to get these games on.”

Vice-captain George Buckenham added: “I would understand the league not being able to finish as there are lots of games left but I am sure the cup finals could have been played at a later date.”

Charlie Congreve – absolutely disgusted
Charlie Congreve – absolutely disgusted

On Twitter, March goalkeeper Charlie Congreve said: “Absolutely disgusted with how the Cambs FA has dealt with our final.”

And left back Tom Mcleish said: “Voiding cup competitions with just the final left to play! What a joke.”

And forward Toby Allen added: “Previous competition’s finals have been played the following season and suddenly this one can’t.”

Toby Allen – 'no justification'
Toby Allen – 'no justification'

No decision has yet been made on completing the Cambridgeshire County League programme but ideas being considered should it not be possible to play include basing the league tables on an average points system or declaring the season null and void.

The Peterborough League and the BetVictor Nothern Premier League, where Wisbech Town ply their trade, are yet to make a decisions. Neither are the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, where March Town and Wisbech St Mary play.

The Hares were in a promotion spot when the season was postponed and both the Fenmen and the Saints in their league’s relegation area.

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