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Dereham City supporters fuming after wasted trip

PUBLISHED: 17:18 29 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 July 2010

Norwich City supporters from the Dereham area were among those left fuming after the Canaries' clash with Walsall was called off on Monday less than an hour before the game was due to start because of a frozen pitch.

Norwich City supporters from the Dereham area were among those left fuming after the Canaries' clash with Walsall was called off on Monday less than an hour before the game was due to start because of a frozen pitch.

Around 2,000 fans had made the three hour plus, 165-mile trip to the Midlands for the game.

But at 2.05pm, less than an hour before the game was due to kick off, referee Mark Haywood postponed the fixture, deeming the Banks's Stadium's pitch too hard in patches.

He said player safety had to come first, explaining the Walsall ground staff had tried their best to get the pitch in a playable condition.

Tim Johnson, from Dereham, said: “We'd set off from Carrow Road at 9.30am and got up there at about 1.30pm. We thought it was a bit odd, because we usually get let in at about that time and people started speculating they'd called it off.

“Then they came out and said the referee had decided to call the game off. They let us in to use the facilities and we had a look at the pitch and it didn't look that bad, but you never know what it's like underneath the frost.

“It's a shame because a lot of people, including a lot of kids, had headed up to the game and it would have been one of the biggest away contingents of the season.

“Now the rearranged game will probably be on a Tuesday and people won't be able to go.”

Kevin Denmark, from Townshend Road, Dereham, said: “Just arrived home from a wasted trip - seven hours in the car, a rushed KFC at Corley Services after traffic delays on the M6, £25 in wasted petrol money, little chance of attending the re-arranged match on a weekday evening - what a great way to spend a precious day off work.

“Why was there no early indication that the game was in doubt with no suggestion of any pitch inspection planned? The actual weather in the area was better than forecast - a balmy five degrees. Surely in those circumstances an un-playable pitch at 9am was unlikely to be ready for play by 3pm.”

Chloe Miller, from Dereham, set off at 9am to avoid any delays on the roads.

“I can't believe that Walsall were using oil drums to try and get the pitch thawed out,” she said. “There must be other things they can do to deal with the frost? The stewards we've spoken to reckon the pitch was a lot worse for the last game they had here against Orient but they still managed to get it on. They talk about the safety of the players but these referees also have to take into consideration the fans.

“We spend a lot of money following our team away from home and I don't feel they've done enough to get this game on. Will we get that money back? We'll probably get the ticket money refunded but what about the cost of petrol driving all the way over here.”

Norwich chief executive David McNally admitted the club's huge travelling support was the biggest loser but backed the referee's decision after inspecting the pitch himself.

City officials confirmed supporters who purchased a ticket for the game are entitled to a refund by retaining the stubs and contacting the Norwich City ticket office on 0844 826 1902. In addition, City have confirmed all supporters who travelled on official Club Canary coaches are entitled to a full refund of their fare for the Walsall game.

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