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Bury Town set to try and get two fixtures in ahead of Isthmian League's official restart date while Soham Town Rangers happy to use extra time to prepare players




Russell Ward is hoping Bury Town can get agreement with opponents to play two games ahead of the now set mandatory restart date for the Pitching In Isthmian League of December 19.

At four matches, the Blues, along with Cambridge City, have played less games than everyone else in the North Division – with some teams having completed double that.

The Isthmian League board’s decision to restart their leagues on December 19 came as a bit of a surprise to clubs in the area, given it was two weeks later than the lower-level Thurlow Nunn League.

Bury Town boss Ben Chenery (left) and chairman Russell Ward (right) in front of the club’s new east stand, are hoping to welcome fans back to the Denny Bros Ram Meadow Stadium on December 12Picture: Mark Westley
Bury Town boss Ben Chenery (left) and chairman Russell Ward (right) in front of the club’s new east stand, are hoping to welcome fans back to the Denny Bros Ram Meadow Stadium on December 12Picture: Mark Westley

But it has come with the caveat that clubs who wish to start earlier, government approval on non-elite crowds being able to return as well as players permitting, they can do so. The only requirement is for both teams to agree and at least five days’ notice to be given to be able to appoint FA match officials.

Bury chairman Ward said: “As soon as I heard it I spoke to Ben (Chenery, manager) last night and he told me the players are ready to go.

“The first game we are due to play on December 5th was away to Coggeshall (Town), so at some point we will speak to Coggeshall and see if there are ready to go.

Cemal Ramadan celebrates his goal to pull Bury Town level against Romford on October 31. It was to prove their last match before the league was suspendedPicture: Neil Dady
Cemal Ramadan celebrates his goal to pull Bury Town level against Romford on October 31. It was to prove their last match before the league was suspendedPicture: Neil Dady

“The same will apply to the Histon home game on the 12th.

“We are in a slightly different situation to others as we have got games in hand.”

He added: “The only worrying thing about restarting on the 19th is you are almost into Christmas.

“The proviso the league has put in that you can start earlier is good as it gives clubs options.”

The Isthmian League board has also agreed a two-week extension to the season to cope with the fixture backlog created by the lockdown, with Bury themselves being set to have missed out on seven matches.

But Ward is not pleased with that decision – with the final round of matches due to now take place on May 22 and the play-offs moving into the following bank holiday weekend – due to the implications it has on 2021/22.

“It does not really appeal to me,” he said.

Soham Town Rangers player-boss Robbie Mason is to look at some friendlies ahead of starting on December 19, though has not ruled out a December 12 restart completely	Picture: Mark Westley
Soham Town Rangers player-boss Robbie Mason is to look at some friendlies ahead of starting on December 19, though has not ruled out a December 12 restart completely Picture: Mark Westley

“We, like a lot of others, have a grass pitch and that will need time to get it ready for the following season.

“I have said I am not worried what happens to this season as long as it does not affect next season as well.

“On that date we have barely got eight week until we have to be playing friendlies and ideally you would want nine to 10 weeks.

“But these are the cards we have been dealt with and we have to get on with it.”

Soham player-boss welcomes league resumption news

Meanwhile, Soham Town Rangers' player-manager Robbie Mason gave a warm response to the league's return date.

He said: "Any information on the return is good news in my eyes.

"At this point in the year we just have to be grateful that we have a date to build towards.

"Yes, the fixtures build up was going to be inevitable and yes, we can be critical of the Isthmian League, but let's be honest, they were never going to please everyone."

Read more: AFC Sudbury criticises restart date and league chairman responds

While not completely ruling out arranging a fixture for December 12, he is prepared to use the extra time to prepare his players for their return to action with training and friendlies.

"The lads will need to get back into the swing of things," he said. "Although they are physically fit, a month out at any level is tough. So the later restart will give us a chance to get some friendlies in and get back to match fitness both physically and mentally."

He added: "But if the squad looks fit enough and we are in a good place, we may see if Brentwood want to play the week before on the 12th."

Soham, who currently sit in seventh place in the table after playing seven matches with a return of 10 points, would otherwise be due to resume at Brentwood Town on December 19 (3pm).

Their first home game would then be against Bury Town on Boxing Day (3pm).