HELLENIC LEAGUE: New College students ready to cope with fixture drought
ROB Hopkins feels his New College Swindon side is better placed than most to deal with a backlog of fixtures in the final few months of the season.
The students are scheduled to play rock-bottom Letcombe in Hellenic Division One West tomorrow but Hopkins is fully expecting another postponement, with the pitches at Supermarine struggling to cope with the weight of recent rainfall.
College haven’t played a home match since beating Old Woodstock Town on December 14 - fully two months ago - and, having taken a peek at the Met Office forecasts, manager Hopkins isn’t anticipating playing on familiar soil until at least the middle of March.
That will lead to his team having to play a manic game of catch-up in the last 10 weeks of the season but Hopkins is unconcerned, citing his players’ youthfulness as the main reason.
“It’s been so long since we’ve played at home and looking at the long-term forecast they reckon we’ve got another three weeks of it, which would mean we’d get into the middle of March before we’re playing,” he said.
“For us that’s probably not that much of an issue because we’ve got such a big squad with the under 18s and the lads in the Hellenic. We get to rotate the players around and we wouldn’t get much burnout because we’ve got that many players we can use.
“The issue will be, because we groundshare with Supermarine, we’re going to have a lot of games in a short space of time. That might be an issue. It’s a question of how you fit everything in.
“I know that the guys at Supermarine spent an awful lot of money in the summer getting the drainage right and if we’d had a normal winter it probably would have coped with it but we’ve had something like six months of rain in two weeks. I don’t think any pitch would cope with that.
“We haven’t played an under 18 game since the end of December as well so we’ve got a backlog of fixtures in the two under 18 sides plus the Hellenic. Because we’ve got a squad of 50-odd it doesn’t affect us as much as I imagine it would other sides.
“They love games, games, games. They like that more than training. We’d just move things around. We might have a little bit of an advantage over other teams who might have older players, work commitments, smaller squads. They might struggle a little bit but we’re a little more flexible in what we can do.”
Elsewhere in the division, Malmesbury go to Carterton.