Tong backs striking Yarmouth players
GREAT YARMOUTH 1, KING'S LYNN 5: A players' strike left Great Yarmouth Town having to field a weakened side in their Norfolk Senior Cup tie with King's Lynn Town last night.
Some of the Bloaters players are unhappy after claiming they are owed weeks' worth of match fees and expenses.
That led to the majority of the club's first-team players making themselves unavailable for last night's fourth round tie at The Wellesley, while manager Paul Tong also stayed away in support of his aggrieved players.
In their absence, ten players made their Yarmouth first-team debuts against a Linnets side which was also weakened by injury and suspension but still had enough to run out 5-1 winners – Robbie Harris claiming a hat-trick.
'I worked very hard on Monday to resolve the issue with the chairman and those involved,' said Tong. 'There are faults on both sides but in this instance I feel I have to support the players because without them I'm nothing. If it had just been one or two I would have gone against it.'
Chairman Stephen Brierley has been instrumental in turning around the club's fortunes on and off the pitch after arriving in 2008 – seeing the Bloaters win promotion to the Ridgeons Premier Division last season.
'We've been lucky at Yarmouth over the last three years that we've had a chairman and vice-chairman who support the club,' added Tong on BBC Norfolk. 'Let's face facts, we wouldn't have achieved what we set out to achieve without the support of the chairman and vice-chairman.
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'But what you have to look at, the players who have decided not to go because they're owed expenses, some travel from Dereham, I've had players travelling back from London, one would be travelling back from Braintree.
'When they're only playing for expenses and they're not on vast wages that some clubs do pay, you have to respect that if they're not getting those expenses they felt strongly enough to make a stand.'
Harris gave the Linnets the lead inside four minutes after Jack Defty had knocked down a cross.
Yarmouth then held their own until Lynn struck two more goals in the three minutes before the interval, a terrific strike from Defty being followed by a second for Harris.
The Bloaters were rewarded for their efforts midway through the second half when Ross Catchpole looped a shot in from 12 yards.
But Harris dribbled through for his hat-trick before Lynn debutant Geno Rivoti completed the scoring in the last minute.
Tong is expected to be at the helm on Saturday after leaving the team in the hands of reserve boss Kevin Cruickshank last night.
• Wroxham's home tie against Cromer was postponed because of a frozen pitch.