Updated: Micky Chapman insists it was the right call to postpone his testimonial against Norwich City due to heavy rain in Lowestoft.
- Credit: James Bass
Lowestoft Town stalwart Micky Chapman had no complaints with the decision to call off Tuesday night's pre-season friendly with Norwich City due to heavy rain.
Chapman's big night was washed out following torrential downpours which left parts of the Crown Meadow pitch saturated. Heavy congestion on the A146 meant many Canaries' fans were late in getting to Crown Meadow anyway, with the City players only arriving around 45 minutes before kick-off.
With officials checking the saturated pitch around an hour before kick-off, the decision wasn't made until Alex Neil and Norwich officials could assess the pitch themselves shortly before 7pm.
However with the pitch unplayable ahead of the 7.30pm kick-off, the frustrating decision to cancel the match was made in consultation with Neil, Lowestoft Town officials and the referee.
Neil and the City squad made their way back to the waiting team coach, posing for pictures with disappointed fans after a formal announcement was made over the PA system at Crown Meadow. City interim chief executive Steve Stone and director Tom Smith were in attendance with Lowestoft hopeful the game can be re-arranged in the future.
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'There is no blame pointed at anybody,' said Chapman. 'Alex Neil is a good guy. His player safety is paramount and has to come first. We wouldn't do anything different in his situation. Clearly for it to be called off tells you it was dangerous conditions. These are professional players and you can't put their livelihoods at risk, these are million pound players and they have a big season ahead. Alex made the right decision.
'What can you do? It is nobody's fault. It is disappointing for everybody. I feel for Gary Keyzor (Lowestoft chairman) and everyone at the club who have put so much hard work into it over the last month or two. I feel for Norwich as well, the players and supporters. We had a big crowd here and they have missed out but what can you do about the British weather? You have to consider your players, and that applies to Ady (Gallagher) as well as Alex.'
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Norwich's visit was set to mark Chapman's three decades of loyal service with the Trawlerboys.
'I enjoyed every minute but my time has gone,' he said. 'I am looking forward to standing behind the dug out and cheering them to get back to Conference football this season and let's hope Norwich City can get back to the Premier League as well.'
Blues' boss Ady Gallagher insisted the safety of both sets of players was the priority in calling off the friendly.
'I am gutted for Mick, the players, the chairman, the fans,' he said. 'Taking the sentiment out of it, I totally understand their decision not to play the game. You can not put players at risk in a game like this. I don't want people who were looking on from the side to think the pitch wasn't that bad. There was one really bad area they were trying to clear but there was a lot of water just below the grass level. There were also two or three other areas and if this was a league game it would have been called off.'
A statement on City's official website read: 'Upon inspection of the Lowestoft Town pitch on Tuesday evening, and following consultation with the management staff of both sides, a decision was made to postpone the fixture by the match officials.
'Adverse weather throughout the afternoon had caused the playing surface to become excessively treacherous, increasing the risk of injury to a level where it was no longer deemed safe to proceed.
'We would like to apologise to those supporters who travelled, while thanking Lowestoft for their efforts to get the game on, with the situation being beyond the control of all parties.
'Information on the refunding of tickets will be made available by Lowestoft Town in the coming days.'