I don’t mind travelling up to Goodison from Nottingham. In fact, I love it. I always set off 4 hours before kick off to allow for the unpredictable M6, and given the weather and having nothing on in the afternoon, for the Palace game I set off at 2.30 so if I was bonkers early I could always have a kip in the car when I got there.
I was literally just coming up to the junction of the A500 and M6 at about 3.40 when I heard that the Thelwall Viaduct section had been closed due to the expected hurricane force winds. This stroke of luck helped me avoid the fate of travelling Palace fans who eventually got ‘trapped’ on the motorway by being able to divert off to exciting places like Crewe, Tarporley and Runcorn, eventually arriving at the car park off Walton Lane at 6.30.
I was surprised the game was still on at this stage having listened to weather reports on the way up, including the Liverpool coastguard, and the portents of doom that they had for their listeners, and having seen the chaos of fallen trees on Queens Drive and in some of the Cheshire villages. But game on!
Then, £8 lighter from the car park, and £3 spent on our excellent programme, I’m munching on a Steak Pie on the concourse under the Upper Gwladys to hear that at 7.10, just 35 mins from kick off, the game was now off due to police safety concerns.
But why 7.10? Had the police no expectation of problems before slates started flying off the Winslow roof? No thought that hurricane force winds might cause bigger concerns than a Tim Howard goal kick? Surely inconceivable that Force 12 might lead to more than just Speroni flapping at the odd cross? Or that it would mean more than just a lightweight Osman falling over?
The Club said it couldn’t call off the game on the basis that things ‘might’ happen. True. But the duty of care rests mainly with the police in this instance, and having had the foresight to close the M6 because of the wind, it wasn’t a case of what might happen, it was a case of how much damage WOULD be caused!
From a footballing sense, I guess high winds would have played more to Pulis’ game plan than ours, so perhaps it’s better in that sense. A bit of help that we don’t have to field a makeshift attack hopefully, and a bit of extra rest for the squad before Sunday. No problems with all of that, but just that the police decision was left so late.
Oh well, at least I hadn’t flown over with my family from Malaysia.
I think I’ll check the weather forecast for Sunday now….