‘We might have to make a stance and not replay it’ – Bury Town chairman Ward after controversial abandonment due to fog

PUBLISHED: 11:28 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 01 October 2020

View from one end of the pitch to the other, shortly after the match was abandoned due to fog at Ram Meadow. Conditions did not appear to be that bad. Picture: NEIL DADY

View from one end of the pitch to the other, shortly after the match was abandoned due to fog at Ram Meadow. Conditions did not appear to be that bad. Picture: NEIL DADY

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Bury Town chairman, Russell Ward, has revealed that the club would consider refusing to re-play last night’s abandoned Isthmian League match, if it was decided that the original result could not stand.

Bury Town striker Ollie Hughes, who scored the third goal in a 5-0 scoreline, before the match was abandoned,  is tackled as the mist descends at Ram Meadow. Picture: NEIL DADYBury Town striker Ollie Hughes, who scored the third goal in a 5-0 scoreline, before the match was abandoned, is tackled as the mist descends at Ram Meadow. Picture: NEIL DADY

The dominant Blues were 5-0 up against Witham Town and coasting to a deserved victory, when referee Murray Grant shocked everyone in the Ram Meadow ground by deciding to call off the match, with just seven minutes left on the clock, due to fog.

Swirling fog had descended during the second half, but both goals were clearly visible from the touch-line, as was one side of the pitch from the other.

Yet instead of choosing to perhaps halt the match for a few minutes, to see if the fog would lift - which ironically it did - the referee opted to abandon it straight away.

“We are obviously disappointed with the decision, because we don’t feel that the referee gave it a fair chance,” explained Bury chairman Ward this morning.

Ollie Hughes, right, and team-mate Ben Mayhew trudge off the pitch after Tuesday night's match was controversially called off because of fog. Pictrue: NEIL DADYOllie Hughes, right, and team-mate Ben Mayhew trudge off the pitch after Tuesday night's match was controversially called off because of fog. Pictrue: NEIL DADY

“Let’s be fair, the game was won, and if we are asked to play it again, we have to decide whether we intend to play it again.

“If we are told we have to replay it, then we might have to make a stance and say ‘no, we won’t replay it,’ and then look at the implications and the consequences.

“It shouldn’t have happened, and the result should be allowed to stand,” added Ward.

There was an already-scheduled Isthmian League Board meeting this afternoon, during which the issue of Bury’s abandoned match was brought up.

Bury Town chairman Russell WardBury Town chairman Russell Ward

Ward revealed: “Nothing concrete has come from this meeting, although we have been asked to send in a report, which we have already done.

“Witham have also been asked to send in a report, as has the referee, and the Board will then make a decision based on these reports, when hopefully common sense will prevail and the result will stand.”

In-form Bury Town were in cruise control after Jake Chambers-Shaw had bagged a hat-trick, in addition to setting up the other two goals for Cemal Ramadan and Ollie Hughes.

In fact, 5-0 up after 83 minutes, Bury were looking forward to going top of the Isthmian League North table on goal difference, after two matches, to confirm their impressive start to the new season - they are still in both the FA Cup and the FA Trophy.

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- Bury manager Ben Chenery is incensed after match is controversially abandoned because of fog

Ollie Hughes slams home Bury Town's third goal, against Witham Town. Picture: NEIL DADYOllie Hughes slams home Bury Town's third goal, against Witham Town. Picture: NEIL DADY

However, the match was suddenly abandoned with the fog not having seemingly got any worse, much to amazement, frustration and anger of the home club’s players, officials and of course supporters.

There was a capacity crowd of 400 at Ram Meadow, the reduced capacity due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Chairman Ward continued: “The criteria is that you can see both goals from the centre circle, and that was clearly the case last night.

“The referee said that his assistant was having difficulty in making decisions, but we can’t understand how that could be. There was fog, but it was not too bad, and everyone on the touchline could see to the other side of the pitch.

The fog is beginning to roll in during the first half at Ram Meadow. The referee controversially abandoned the match with just seven minutes left. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe fog is beginning to roll in during the first half at Ram Meadow. The referee controversially abandoned the match with just seven minutes left. Picture: CARL MARSTON

“The referee told us that he had made his decision, and that he wouldn’t change it, which we were very unhappy about.

“He should have given it at least 10 minutes to see if the fog might lift, which it actually did.

“I thought it was a ridiculous decision, and I can’t understand how he came to make it.

“The (Isthmian) League phoned me last night, because they had seen the abandonment come up on their web pages. They had assumed that it was just someone pressing the wrong button!

“They asked me to send them photos of both goals (penalty areas), and they were astounded by the pictures and the fact that the match was abandoned.

“Apparently, the referee told a member of our coaching staff at half-time last night that the game just needed to get to beyond 75 minutes for the result to stand, but we have had a look at the rules book and that rule does not exist.

“However, we believe there is a League rule which states that a game can be awarded to a team at the discretion of the league.

“We are now waiting for the Board to decide the outcome, based on the various reports,” added Ward.

Meanwhile, Bury manager Ben Chenery said after the game: “I have never come across anything like this, in my whole career as a player and a manager, and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

“It is a real kick in the teeth!”

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