Dagenham & Redbridge issue statement following controversial postponement against Hartlepool United
Dagenham & Redbridge have issued a club statement following the decision to postpone the National League home match against Hartlepool United just an hour before kick-off.
It's the third consecutive away match Pools have had postponed following the matches at Halifax Town and Dover Athletic earlier in the month.
Following a passed inspection on Friday, Hartlepool had already made the 265-mile trip down to East London at a significant expense.
The visitors had also offered to reverse the fixture and play it at Victoria Park but were supposedly given assurances that the match would go ahead as planned.
Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case as Dave Challinor’s side now have another blank weekend before making the long journey down to Eastleigh for Tuesday night’s match (5pm kick-off).
In response to the postponement, Dagenham outlined their take on the situation with a detailed statement explaining how they were ‘not completely surprised’ with the decision.
The Daggers also said the decision to pass the initial inspection and postpone the game was purely down to the match officials.
“The club is bitterly disappointed that today’s game was called off at such a late stage, particularly given the hard work shown by our ground staff, Jamie and Sean who were also assisted throughout the week by Ben, Chris and even Charlie from the ticket office,” the statement read.
“However, we were not completely surprised given the severe cold temperatures experienced this week and the forecast for today, so much so that on Thursday we requested the National League provide a referee to inspect the pitch on Friday, prior to Hartlepool United setting off who consequently delayed their departure until 12.30.”
“The match referee was able to attend on Friday lunchtime and after a thorough inspection, including areas shaded by the Carling & Family stands where staff moved covers to allow access, he deemed the pitch playable.
"This is purely the referee’s decision and it is not the place of the club to pass comment on this either way. We did, however, point out that our opponents were not a local side and it would be disappointing if they were to travel and the game was subsequently called off.”
Explaining how events unfolded on Saturday, the statement continued: “On the day of the match, the Hartlepool assistant manager arrived at the stadium ahead of the visiting team just after noon and immediately expressed his concern that parts of the pitch were frozen.
"The match referee arrived at 1pm and was advised of these concerns which were then echoed by our own manager, Daryl McMahon and then Dave Challinor, the Hartlepool United manager who by now had also arrived.
“Over the next 45 minutes the referee, together with his two assistants and the fourth official inspected all areas of the pitch before deciding that the game could not go ahead. This was as much of a disappointment for us as Hartlepool United as well as the aforementioned staff who had tried their best to get the game on.”
The Daggers also defended the decision not to take up Pools’ offer to play the match at Victoria Park.
“With regards to the request to “switch” our league games the club can confirm that we received an email suggesting this on Tuesday afternoon,” the statement added.
“However, as we had already left for our match away to Notts County this was not considered by the club until Wednesday.
"Apart from the logistics of trying to arrange the necessary coach and hotel requirements at such late notice, especially with so many suitable venues currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we also did not feel that it would have been in the best interests of our own players who had already travelled to Wrexham and Nottingham in the previous 7 days.
"That may seem harsh but as a club we must also consider the well-being of our players.
“Notwithstanding all of the above the club does sympathise with the plight of Hartlepool United, its players and staff, and apologised to Mr Challinor before he left.
"However, the club does feel that it did everything in its power to firstly ensure that the game could be played and then secondly to ensure that the match referee was informed in plenty of time so that an unnecessary trip could be avoided if at all possible.
“However, this can only ever be the decision of the match referee, without any influence from either club.”
In response to the postponement, Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor commented: “Me and their manager Daryl [McMahon] both walked on the pitch and knew straight away that it wasn’t playable and was unsafe but it’s apparently in a better condition than it was on Friday.
"What do we do if the referee calls the game on? Do we revolt and not play it? Dagenham were put into that situation on Friday when the referee, the match referee, looked at the pitch.
"Once he looks at the pitch and says it’s playable, it’s not their prerogative to disagree with someone whose job it is to make those decisions and it’s not like I was there or their manager was there.
"The worrying thing comes when you speak to Dagenham’s ground staff who aren’t at fault but they’re saying the pitch was in a worse condition on Friday. How you can make a decision that the game is playable on Friday is poor judgement from the referee in my opinion.”