THE Furness Premier League second division had never been so popular.

Three-figure crowds are hardly the norm for the players of Furness Rovers reserves and Dalton United A.

But there was an unusual amount of interest in yesterday’s game as fans enjoyed the football in the Cumbrian sun.

The majority had come a fair way to get there – as many had done with the well-populated pubs around the town as well as in neighbouring Ulverston.



You had to do something to fill the void after the bombshell of City’s late postponement at Barrow.

None of those 900 travelling supporters would have feared the slightest risk of the game being called off as they arrived in the area to be greeted by blue sky and unseasonably mild weather.

Sunglasses rather than rain macs were the order of the day.

So, you can imagine the incredulous reaction to the announcement that referee Tom Nield had deemed the pitch unplayable.

Just a little bit of the pitch – two per cent according to Barrow boss Pete Wild – but the official’s concerns with an area around one goal mouth were enough to put the kybosh on matters and leave the “day-trippers” in search of alternative entertainment.

The football fix was on offer next door – with the Furness pitch barely yards behind the ground.

Eight goals were on show, seven of them from visitors Dalton, as the bar in the adjoining stand stayed open to make the best of a bad job.



Or you could have watched Barrow’s own nine v nine game as Wild set up an impromptu training session – as much to show his disgust at the referee’s ruling as to let his players burn off some steam.

City had got straight back on the bus, politely declining his cheeky offer to use the other half to play their own game.

The travelling squad, which had included Lewis Richards again, huddled briefly around the centre circle while Nield and his band of officials prodded and poked the penalty area.

The players didn’t see a lot wrong with a slightly spongey surface – but then they’ve been battle-hardened by Valley Parade’s condition over recent weeks.

Barrow, too, had come through a mud-bath at Salford the week before.

It just added to the farcical scenario as we awaited the inevitable.

Wild had pretty much given the game away with his reaction after speaking with the ref.

You didn’t need to be a body-language expert to know exactly what the one-time Halifax manager was thinking as he strode back across the pitch.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Barrow staged an open training session on the pitchBarrow staged an open training session on the pitch (Image: Simon Parker)

That set the alarm bells ringing for those of us watching from afar – and the news was quickly confirmed once Alexander had arrived and gone to have a look himself.

The ball rolled in the heavily-sanded six-yard box okay. But when Nield dropped it from a height, it just went splat.

And he was equally unhappy with a bordering area where the grass was “too loose”. Maybe a heavy roller earlier in the day might have helped.

Barrow and Wild did not hold back once the call-off had been relayed to all.

The home side publicly voiced their disapproval and promised a complaint would be lodged against the official.

Alexander’s response was more measured and acknowledged Nield’s difficult position.

But not too deep down, the City boss will also have considered the lengthy injury list and those unavailable who will be very much back in the fold for the rearranged fixture.



Barrow’s social media feed was in mischievous mood.

“After a lovely afternoon of weather, it’s time to put the sprinklers on,” was their not-so-subtle dig on X after the team had finished their impromptu training session – watched by a smattering of fans munching on the remaining cold pies as the oven in the takeaway van had been switched off well before.

So, we must do it all again later in the season – initial suggestions it could be hastily set up for Tuesday night were not encouraged on City’s part.

No doubt it will be colder and probably wetter but the game will go ahead anyway. Football logic eh …