Furious Aldershot Town boss Terry Brown has labelled the Hampshire FA as "pathetic" after they refused to accept the club's requests to move their two-legged Hampshire Cup semi-final — causing the postponement of two crucial league games, writes Alex Narey.
Brown also claimed that he was bitterly disappointed with the role of Andover — the Shots' opponents in the semi-final — after they also refused to move on the dates of the two ties. The boss will now still have to take his side to Portway Stadium on March 25 after playing host to the Jewson Wessex League side on the 11th of the same month.
The non-move by the FA and Andover now means that the Shots will have to reschedule away clashes against promotion rivals Canvey Island and Hendon in a fixture programme already suffering from heavy congestion as the season heads for the home straight.
"I am very disappointed," said Brown. "Andover have been very awkward and the Hampshire FA have been very unhelpful. Bearing in mind the amount of fans we would take down to Andover — they simply refused to budge.
"We asked if we could originally have the ties played on February 22 and March 22 but that was no good. Then we said we would keep the first tie on March 11 but hoped that we could move the second tie to the 18th but we had no backing from the FA and for that reason I think they have been pathetic."
The boss added: "It makes me want to not select a strong side for the competition — which we have always done — as I am very annoyed about the whole matter."
Some sympathy has to be directed at Brown here — not that he would want that — as he clearly does have a point.
Despite the club always taking the competition seriously, there have to be question marks over the Hampshire FA's involvement with regards to the Shots chasing the promotion which they so richly deserve.
Surely the Hampshire FA would want Aldershot Town to be playing their football in the Nationwide Conference next season? And surely they would try and co-operate with all parties so that everything could be done to try and make this a possibility — wouldn't they?
Well, it appears not, and from here the Shots boss is left bemused at their role in whole matter. "We had the same problem when I was at Hayes," said Brown. "However, the Middlesex FA did everything in their power to move the tie because their main aim was to see Hayes promoted to the Conference.
"That happened on numerous occasions and the Middlesex FA were always of the opinion that they were there to help all club sides in Middlesex.
"It appears that the Hampshire FA have put the Hampshire Cup above one of their sides gaining promotion to the Conference. We were told that you could not change the fixture of a Jewson Wessex League game but you could change the fixture of a Ryman League game.
"I just feel that the local FA should be there for the welfare of all of their local clubs but it appears that they are not."
Commenting further on the role of Andover, Brown said: "I can't see them winning their league, they are twenty points behind the leaders so it is not as if they have much to play for. We just haven't been done any favours by either."
With regards to the manager playing a weakened side in the semi-final, you would have to be a brave punter to bet on him doing so. Brown is a man who simply hates losing football matches and the proof of that is in the pudding as he has led his Shots side to within touching distance of the Ryman Championship.
For all the arguments here, the Hampshire Cup remains a competition that his side would want to win and win well. "We have 15 games left in the league, then two semi-finals and possibly a final depending on how we get on against Andover," the manager said. "From a football point of view you want to win every single game."
Brown is certainly not wrong there, and a visit to St Marys Stadium for the final would benefit all parties —except Andover of course — with the following and the status that the Shots have.
Therefore, it just makes you wonder why the Hampshire FA are not even attempting to pull in the same direction as the the Ryman leaders.