Millwall’s away fixture at Blackburn Rovers was postponed after a second pitch inspection at 2.15pm yesterday.
We provide some background as to what happened on a strange afternoon at Ewood Park.
There were 471 Lions fans heading up to Lancashire as Millwall were going in search of their third straight win after dispatching Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers at The Den in the past week.
Bournemouth’s match against Nottingham Forest was called off after Storm Eunice was in full swing on Friday afternoon – the decision announced three hours before kick-off – much to the anger of the away fans. But postponing a fixture just 45 minutes prior to kick off is even worse and gave no thought for the away fans travelling a long way to get there.
The first point to make is that Rovers did not turn on their undersoil heating before the game. That system would not have guaranteed snow not settling but it would have given it a much better chance of being cleared.
I was on my way to the match when Blackburn confirmed the game was going to go ahead and they would now clear the snow off the pitch ahead of the game.
With the snow coming down from around 10am, surely it would’ve been helpful to already have been working on the pitch to get as much of the surface clear as early as possible?
When I arrived at the stadium at around 1pm, it seemed as if the fixture would be fine to be played, the pitch looked to be getting cleared up and the groundsmen were working on it.
As the minutes ticked by the pitch didn’t look like it was being cleared as quickly as it could have been – and at this point some Millwall staff went out to help to try and get it cleared.
The officials chatted to Gary Rowett soon after with the Lions boss very keen to play the game. Discussions carried on before it was announced a 2.15pm pitch inspection would take place.
The referee and his assistants came out to see how freely the ball rolled, with Rowett and assistant manager Adam Barrett kicking and throwing a ball around to show that this pitch was playable and the ball was not affected by the surface.
It looked to be going ahead when the Blackburn goalkeepers came out to warm up with their goalkeeping coach. It seemed a positive sign.
But the referee postponed the match on safety grounds for both sets of players. There were already some fans from both sides in the stadium.
The frustrating thing was the pitch looked to be in a playable state and at 2.40pm the sun was shining down – there were blue skies all around the stadium and the pitch was nearly all green. Had the players have come out to warm up you have to believe that this would have cleared the pitch completely and we would have had a game.
The officials could have even delayed kick-off by 30 minutes or an hour.
The officials should have taken the fans into consideration, calling the game off so late in the day is just not fair on the supporters.