Pope calls for winter break after another postponement

Christian Burgess, left, and the Pompey squad pay their respects to Cyrille Regis before Saturday's clash at Rotherham. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey defender pays tribute to key influence Regis

Derek Pope has called for a mid-season break after another Hawks fixture was washed out last night.

The Hampshire Senior Cup tie against Eastleigh fell foul of the weather for the third time and will now be rescheduled for next week.

That means the Hawks will slip further behind in the Blue Square South, as they were due to play league leaders Braintree Town at West Leigh Park.

With the Hawks already seven games behind some teams in the league, the fixture pile-up is reaching nightmare levels.

'If these weather patterns are here to stay then we have to consider having a mid-season break,' said Hawks director of football Pope.

'We cannot keep going on like this. The difference is times have changed and games nowadays are called off by referees at the drop of a hat.

'Thirty years ago we would have played on these pitches. I remember playing in a real mudbath against Sholing but we just all got on with it because it was the same for both teams.

'In those days I suppose people weren't so health and safety conscious. Even the top clubs like Manchester United, Tottenham and Derby hardly had a blade of grass on their pitch at times.

'The old West Leigh Park pitch had an awful reputation in the past but even then we didn't have so many games called off.

'I have never known it as bad as this and things have to be sorted.'

The Hawks' situation hasn't been helped by a drainage problem in a small area of the pitch.

The club are hoping the weather will relent and allow them to dig the section up and make repairs.

'It is frustrating because we employ two full-time groundsmen and have covers but we still haven't been able to beat the weather,' said Pope.

The Hawks chief is also frustrated by the fact the league missed out on the chance to stage midweek games early in the season.

'During September and October we hardly had a midweek game when the pitches and weather were fine,' he said.

'We could have played at least another four games during that time which would have helped further down the line.

'Now the loss of games means that revenue is lost and that has a knock on effect.

'It means we are limited when it comes to bringing players in.

'Fortunately for us the social club has kept some revenue coming in and we have been able to make sure everybody has been paid. Some non-league clubs have not been so lucky.'

The Hawks are now waiting to hear if their Hampshire Senior Cup tie will be switched to Eastleigh after three failures to stage the game.

'It is through no fault of ours because we wanted to play the game every time and the decision has been taken out of our hands,' said Pope.