The vagaries of football fixture-setting have paired up Glossop North End and Northwich Victoria twice in the league — at Wincham Park on April 20, and at Surrey Street on April 23. And it’s by no means impossible the clubs could meet again in the Evo-stik first division north play-offs days after that.
It’s a situation Glossop boss Chris Willcock carefully chooses to term “extremely disappointing”. He believes the Northern Premier League had enough chance to see the situation coming and should have prevented it.
“Even before Vics had nine points deducted and were second in the table and challenging for the title, we felt that having to play them potentially three times at the end of the season was wrong,” said Willcock.
“We did try to address the matter with the league and asked for one of the fixtures to be rearranged but our pleas fell on deaf ears. I don’t understand why. We’ve had enough weeks when we had no Tuesday game.
“It’s extremely disappointing and a situation that shouldn’t have arisen. We feel aggrieved but there’s nothing we can do and we just have to live with it.”
The Hillmen are guaranteed a play-off place but the Northwich matches take on special significance as the clubs finishing second and third will get home advantage in the semi-finals which take place on Tuesday, April 26. Spennymoor have secured second slot so the fight is on for third, which would probably mean a game against Burscough. It would also help the home club financially.
However challenging the back-to-back encounters with Northwich might be, Willcock is determined to make sure Ossett Town, whom Glossop visit on Saturday, are also treated with full respect.
“The game is just as big for them as for us. They won’t be a lower midtable side treading water, they’ll be looking for points to make sure they’re safe from relegation,” said the manager.
“I believe my players deserve a great deal of praise because they’ve had the hardest run-in of all the teams. Everyone we’ve met has been fighting to avoid relegation or has been in the promotion race or on its fringes. There have been no gimmes, that’s for sure.
“The players have done unbelievably well. Since new year they’ve won 11 of 16 league games, losing only four. That’s a fantastic effort for a side that’s only just been promoted.
“I have to praise the fans, too, because we’ve been getting an average crowd of 450. Glossop North End is a club that’s growing on and off the pitch and we’d love to pit our wits at premier division level.”