Referee had ‘no option’ but to abandon game

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SHILDON-based referee Gary McLelland felt he had no alternative other than to abandon Ashington’s Ebac Northern League first division match against Norton & Stockton Ancients at half-time on Saturday.

Ashington were ahead 3-1 at the time as the match official decided the thick fog made conditions unplayable.

Thirty-six-year old McLelland said: “I called a halt for the safety of the players – and because of decision making.

“I sympathise with Ashington with a round trip of 120 miles, but basically, my assistants, Chris Ellis and Helen Conley, were having trouble seeing the second last defender and I myself could not see the crossbar at half-time, so I was left with no alternative.

“Certainly at 3.50pm, it was unplayable.

“I spoke to both managers before the game and said I was happy to give the match a go, but after 35 minutes, I couldn’t really see both my assistants and come the interval I had it as a doubt that it was going to be off.

“I know Ashington were ahead 3-1 at the time, but the scoreline was irrelevant in my decision.”

Norton boss Andy Campbell revealed that he was not surprised – but felt for his Northumbrian visitors.

“It wasn’t great from the first minute really,” he said.

“It was hard to see across the pitch so I wasn’t surprised when it was called off – maybe it should have been a little bit earlier.

“From a personal point, when your side are 3-1 down you are quite pleased, but I would be devastated if we had been in Ashington’s position and it was called off.

“It’s horrible for them now because they are going to have to come back down to us midweek.”

Colliers manager Gary Middleton was understandably disappointed.

“We were 3-1 up and when you got into the middle of the pitch I didn’t think conditions got any worse than what they were,” he said.

“However, the referee has made his decision and there’s nothing you can do other than to abide by it.”