Moulton Harrox assistant manager Bobby Patterson says his players are looking forward to getting back playing after the ChromaSport Peterborough and District Football League announced a one-off competition is to planned to kick off on April 10.
The 2020/21 league season has been null and voided, the second year in a row that’s happened following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead clubs were asked if they wanted to play in an end of season competition and the vast majority have signed up for it.
The league was curtailed with Moulton Harrox having a perfect record of six wins from six games in the Premier Division.
And Patterson said that though he had his doubts, the players were the driving force behind the decision to take part in the replacement competition, even if it means playing all of their group games away from home with the cricket club having priority on the ground from April onwards
“The clubs were given a vote as to whether to continue the season but to play one team each rather than two teams with promotions to be decided at the end of it,” Paterson said. “We voted to carry on with the competition but the vote was more or less 50/50 and split down the middle.
“Another vote about potentially extending the season also came back 50/50 so the league were in a difficult position where they were going to upset some clubs whatever.
“At this level it’s very hard to force teams to play and you don’t want to see clubs turning up with makeshift teams and getting battered.
“It’s unfortunate. I think we’re one of the biggest losers, but the ground swell was the league wasn’t going to happen, but let’s play football and get out there with a new competition.
“Myself and Kev (Nottingham, manager) said we didn’t have a lot of motivation for it.
“At our level the social aspect is a big thing and we won’t be able to have a drink afterwards like usual.
“But we said we’d put it to the players and they’re all very much up for it.”
The PDFL have split the sides into three competitions with April 10 chosen as the start to allow two weeks of training after government restrictions are due to be lifted on March 29.
Moulton Harrox are in the Senior Cup alongside Crowland Town and Long Sutton Athletic.
Each team will play each other in their group once.
The league are hoping to have a finals weekend, possibly when full crowds may be allowed in.
Currently there are no plans for crowds to attend sporting events before May 17.
Patterson said the PDFL then hope to start the 2021/22 season in the first week of August, slightly later than they normally do.
He and Nottingham spent the lockdown in November running as many miles as possible while the players sponsored them, to raise money for the club.
In total they raised around £2,000 to keep the club afloat and to cover the loss of bar takings and match fees over the past year.
“We’re lucky in that we’re financially very secure,” said Patterson. “The biggest thing about our club is we’re all about team spirit.
“We don’t pay players and we’ve been going on like that for the last 30 to 40 years.”
In the ChromaSport Senior Cup, the first team have been drawn against Peterborough Northern Star Reserves, Eunice Huntingdon, FC Peterborough, Peterborough NECI, Netherton United and ICA Sports.
Harrox’s reserves will not take part in the competition.
Both Crowland Town and Long Sutton Athletic are in group three facing Peterborough North End Sports, Stilton United, Oundle Town, Kings Cliffe United and Stamford Belvedere.
Tydd, Crowland Town Reserves and Pinchbeck United Reserves are in group four with Thorpe Wood Rangers, Uppingham, Rippingale and Folkingham and Leverington Sports.
The reserve sides of Tydd and Long Sutton Athletic are in the Junior Cup.
Tydd Reserves face Stilton United Reserves, Orton Rangers, Wittering Premair A, Cardea Reserves and Peterborough City in group two while Athletic take on Leverington Sports Reserves, Dreams, FC Peterborough Reserves, Ramsey Town and Farcet United.
In the Minor Cup, group one sees Long Sutton A take on FC Hampton A, Rippingale and Folkingham Reserves, Dreams Reserves, Orton Rangers Reserves, Netherton United A and Uppingham Town Reserves.
Holbeach Bank are in group two against Wittering Premair B, Huntingdon Town Development, Langtoft United, Peterborough NECI Reserves and Kings Cliffe United A.
Sutton Bridge United are in group three taking on Thurlby Tigers, Warboys Town Reserves, Ramsey Town Reserves, Cambridge FC and Deeping United Reserves.
The draw is subject to teams participating in the competition.