Fakenham CC captain Coyle unhappy with EAPL play-off schedule

Fakenham skipper David Coyle in full flight Picture: MIKE WYATT

Fakenham skipper David Coyle in full flight Picture: MIKE WYATT - Credit: Archant

Fakenham captain David Coyle is delighted to be involved in the East Anglian Premier League play-offs – but is less than impressed with the format of the competition.

The Norfolk Alliance Premier Division champions face an away semi-final against the EAPL's bottom team on Sunday, September 16, with the winner travelling to either the Cambs & Hunts or Two Counties champions the following weekend.

The schedule means Fakenham are unlikely to know their first opponents until the evening before the match – while the mere fact that they will be a side who finished at the foot of the table is another source of annoyance.

'To be honest I think we have had a really raw deal,' said Coyle, whose side won 11 games on the trot to pip Downham Town to the Alliance title. 'For a start I think it's really unfair that we are playing our semi-final the day after the EAPL finishes. That means there is a very good chance we won't know where we are going to until 8 o'clock the night before, which to me is ridiculous.

'It might be Norwich, it might be Bury St Edmunds, it might even be Burwell and Exning - so you can't make travel plans, it all has to be done at the last minute. It could also pose a problem for groundsmen because they won't know in advance whether they will have a pitch to prepare.

'Also I don't think it is fair that a side who has won a title has to play a side who has just finished bottom. In all other sports I can think of if you finish bottom you are relegated, end of story. No disrespect to the EAPL sides we might play but I think the play-offs should just involve ourselves and the champions of the two other feeder leagues.'

On top of all that Coyle feels his side have been left with a disadvantage because of the early finish of the Alliance compared to the other leagues, although a delayed EAPL start because of the wet spring played a part in that.

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'There's a big gap between our final Alliance game and the play-off (of over three weeks), which isn't ideal,' he said. 'We have been left clicking our heels while everyone else involved is still playing so it has been a case of having training sessions to ensure we are as ready as we can be.

'It hasn't been the ideal preparation by any means but whatever happens it has been amazing season for the club. It was a real team effort and I am really proud of all the players.'

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