Maccabi’s White Hart pain
Teams advised to put club loyalties aside and play their Sunday morning matches
FOOTBALL A group of leading Maccabi League officials and managers are urging Jewish players to prioritise playing ahead of watching football this Sunday.
Tottenham’s televised Premier League clash against Chelsea — both of whom have a large percentage of Jewish season-ticket holders — has left several clubs short of players for their matches, which traditionally kick-off at 10am. This has left managers pleading for players to show commitment and loyalty to their cause.
Redbridge Jewish Care A submitted a request not to have a game, as secretary Richard Bronzite admits they “would not have been able to put out a team”.
Woodford Wanderers admitted to “having a real issue” ahead of their meeting with Faithfold B as three members of management team — Alex Aviram, Martin Sales and Daryl Kay — are all season-ticket holders at White Hart Lane.
Kay said: “Chelsea at home is obviously one of our biggest games of the season. We contacted Faithfold earlier this month to arrange an earlier kickoff but received a ‘no’ from them. As the away team, we were prepared to set off at 7.30 on a Sunday morning, pay the referee extra for his efforts and find a pitch to meet in the middle so we didn’t miss the Spurs game, but Faithfold flatly refused.”
But some clubs have shown goodwill to their rivals. SPEC FC’s Ricky Lawrence was keen to “thank” Jason Stein for moving their match against Oakwood B forward to a 9.45am start.
Lawrence said: “Yes it’s disrupted Sunday morning massively and it’s a shame as we are on a good run.
“We’ll be witho u t v i r t u a l l y a whole team and a load of good players but it’s a one-off and these things happen. But we will definitely put out a team.”
Stein sympat h i s e d w i t h Lawrence and said: “I like Ricky and I always try and help where I can so I offered an earlier start, which he accepted. In my view anything earlier was too much of an inconvenience.
“Too many times I’ve seen players disrespecting the club they play for — and the manager — by choosing to go to some midtable clash. You don’t ‘need’ to do anything. You’re making the choice. And that choice is ‘I’m going to leave my teammates in the lurch here’. “I get it. Football is a big t h i n g . Butplaying should come first because those are memories that last forever. I’m happy to help SPEC and I genuinely hope they have a good and competitive side out. But I feel sad when I see lads choosing something else over their own team.”
Real Sosobad are another club who will be “missing a couple of regulars” due to the clash. Manager Dan Shafron said: “Of course it is not ideal. Several players in the MSFL are season-ticket holders of clubs they support and invariably pay well in to the thousands to watch their team play.
“As a manager, I would never dare tell any of my players not to go to a game of football. We play leisurely and they are well within their right to go.”
Camden Park match against Oakwood A has been moved forward 15 minutes but manager Will Castle conceded the early start “still won’t allow people to get to the game”. He said: “A couple of players had tickets but Camden comes first.” MGBSFL chairman David Wolff insists the decision ultimately lies with the players. He said: “People are signed up for Maccabi League football so we expect them to play games. It’s simple. Either they are committed to playing or watching, but we can’t run the league around the teams.
“The priority for us is to get the matches played. The FA are aware of the problems regarding potential clashes but the Premier League are a law unto themselves. They are not bothered about grass-roots football and are only interested in corporate bodies and advertisers.”
Stuart Lustigman of the Maccabi Masters League described the clash as a “real threat to Sunday League football”. He said: “It’s frustrating when the FA is supposed to be encouraging grass-roots football but we’re competing with the best league in the world.
“It’s something we have to live with and we have to accommodate players with the dilemma as there is no easy solution.
“The bottom line is that we can’t change Premier League kick-off times, so flexibility is the key.”
Some managers also believe there are clubs who are unwilling to show flexibility to start times in a bid to gain an advantage. Harmen’s Joe Marsh accused Hendon of “refusing
Harmen will play on