Local heroes: Spartans count cost of wasted trip

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SPARTANS AMATEURS were left counting the cost of a cancelled Scottish Cup quarter-final after the match official ruled two pitches unplayable and forced the club to fork out £800.

The North Edinburgh outfit spent £400 on a team bus to transport their squad 80 miles to Ayrshire to play their Scottish (Sunday) Amateur Trophy tie against Saltcoats, but the referee declared both local pitches unsafe.

After suffering the latest in a series of postponed fixtures during the past few months, Spartans now face paying the same again for a return trip to Ayrshire tomorrow, as well as the prospect of playing four games every eight days during the “business end” of their Edinburgh and District Amateur FA campaign.

Dean Philp’s club found some relief, however, in the fact they will be reimbursed for their share of the £90 fee paid for the hire of a referee and two assistants.

“I just feel cheated that all the boys have forked out a fortune over this season for away games to the Scottish and we will have to do it all again tomorrow,” said Philp. “There needs to more done to protect the travelling team.

“The Scottish Amateur FA are not doing anything. We’re going through again tomorrow and it could happen again. Nothing is being done for teams.” Spartans are the last Capital side remaining in the national tourney, and beat Dundee outfit Whitfield Athletic to reach the last eight. They were drawn away to crack west of Scotland outfit Saltcoats, with the tie due to have been played last Sunday. Spartans travelled two hours to Ayrshire with no fears that the match would not go ahead.

“There was a pitch inspection due by their secretary at 9am, and the understanding was if I hadn’t heard from them, the game was going ahead,” said Philp.

However, the inspection was not carried out, allegedly due to those responsible at host club feeling too unwell to conduct an examination of the playing surface after partaking in a birthday celebration night out the previous evening. Philp’s men than boarded the bus to travel to Campbell Park, home of Ayrshire junior team Saltcoats Victoria, after their opponents received permission to play the match there.

“We got changed, got back on the bus, and went to the to the local junior ground. It was muddy, cut-up – if anything, even worse than the first ground.”

The Spartans boss was then part of a disgruntled 20-man group that made the lengthy trip back to Edinburgh.

“This could have been stopped,” said Philp. “The local council said on Friday [two days before the game] that the park was playable, but the girl in reception at the ground said it had been raining every day for the last eight weeks. Saltcoats didn’t want to play us on a 3G pitch, which they could have hired.”

Due in part to the latest in a series of fixture cancellations, Philp’s team are now preparing for a heavy fixture schedule later this month, with a possible need for games to be played on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday during the same week.

The manager said: “Saltcoats are way behind in their league games as well, and now we’ll have to play three games a week.”