AFTER one of the wettest Octobers on the Isle of Wight in living memory, the local football programme has been hit hard.

Although the Wessex League and the Isle of Wight Divisional Football Association are not hitting the panic button yet over a fixture backlog, there appears to be no encouraging signs of a let up in the weather into November. 

Over the past two weekends, amid the affects of Storms Babet and Ciaran, 40 of 46 games were postponed, with 13 of this weekend's fixtures called off as early as Monday because local pitches were deemed unplayable — with the potential of more to follow.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Last season, the Football Association gave the Wessex League two weeks' grace to extend their season, to fulfil the fixture backlog, due to bad winter weather.

Should the next few months be unsettled, it could potentially cause problems for the Island's three Wessex clubs — Cowes Sports, East Cowes Vics and Newport — as a backlog bites.

Mike Dobson, the Wessex League's fixture secretary, said although he is not unduly concerned at the moment, it could become a worry if November is very wet.

"The chief concern will be the travel for clubs if games are rescheduled for midweek and are long distance, especially the Island clubs," he said.

"We have some flexibility for another month, but if the bad weather continued into December, we would then be concerned.

"It would be particularly concerning for teams who groundshare, such as Vics and Newport.

"As a contingency, we try not to rearrange games for midweek until the end of February/early March. We'll have to see how it pans out."

Island clubs have been the hardest hit, with numerous teams not having played a game since October 21 and, particularly with those with pitches on clay, it may be weeks yet before they get a home game.

West Wight FC manager, Johnny Holmes, expressed his frustration at the lack of game time his team are getting, with their pitch remaining unplayable.

"The ground is very, very wet. The top end is like a bog. Unless we get two or three weeks let up for it to dry out, we can't play on it," he said.

"It is really frustrating because you can't plan your weekend and you have the added problem of getting a team up together. Players just lose interest. 

"It happens every year. It is putting people off football."

Wootton boss Dan Partridge echoed those sentiments, after the Isle of Wight Council pulled the plug on their game tomorrow on Monday.

"It's been frustrating not being able to play any games for some time. As the Rec is a council pitch, they decided to call it off, saying it was too wet underfoot," Dan said.

The IWDFA's chairman, Geoff Ruck, said it is not the worst weather he has seen and that he is not unduly concerned by a fixture backlog.

"It is not catastrophic at this stage. We are not in uncharted territory and not in a bad situation," Geoff said.

"However, Hampshire Cup ties take priority over league games, so if they continue to be postponed, we could have a situation in the spring where teams are playing two midweek games to catch up."

Brading coach Will Dallimer said the club's Peter Henry Ground saw £18,000 worth of drainage work done in the close season to help mitigate its history of postponements due to the pitch being unplayable.

"I've never known continuous rain like it in October. This weather's been going on for three weeks now and, despite the drainage work done, it's not coping wit the volume of water," he said.

"This is throwing the whole fixture programme back."