West Norfolk football bosses fear Thurlow Nunn League campaign will end up being declared null and void because of coronavirus pandemic
West Norfolk football bosses fear another season being declared null and void – but would still like to take to the pitch later in the season if the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of easing.
Fakenham Town's record-breaking FA Vase run had already been suspended and, on Monday, the government put the county into a new national lockdown until at least mid-Feburary – ruling out the prospect of a resumption of non-elite football any time soon.
With only a third of the 2020/21 campaign currently completed in the Thurlow Nunn League, and with Covid cases rising as the winter months progress, there are growing fears it will be scrapped for a second season in succession.
But King's Lynn Town Under-21 manager Joe Simpson and joint Downham Town boss Dale Stokes both hope that doesn't mean the end of football for the season as a whole.
Simpson feels there should be some kind of back-up plan in place should the league season be ended early.
He said: "The current situation is a massive disappointment for everyone.
"It's a ridiculously sad and horrible situation that we are in and it's not just a case of losing a few football matches, it affects people's mental health too.
"Everyone has their opinions on the pandemic, but on the footballing side if there is the opportunity to play some games later in the season then I think we should do that.
"It's about having something to aim for once the lockdown is behind us as thousands of people across the country are being starved and suffocated in terms of having something to look forward to.
Simpson's young-guns haven't kicked a ball in anger since they lost 3-2 at Sheringham in the First Division North on December 21.
"As much as we are missing the games of football, the players are missing being around each other. The lads have been brilliant for me this season."
Meanwhile Stokes feels there is little chance of this season being finished and echoed Simpson's sentiments about playing games, even if it's cup matches, at a later date.
Stokes said: "With everything that’s happening and the pandemic still causing huge problems, I’d be pulling the plug now and making the season null and void.
"Keep the cups open because that’s easy to do and it still gives us hope that we can do something when the time is right.
"We’ve played 10 games and sides in some leagues have played even less than that. It’s been an unusual season from the off, unlike any other.
"It has been nowhere near as enjoyable in terms of the social side of it, it just hasn’t felt the same."
The Memorial Field chief believes it would be a pointless exercise trying to fit in all of the remaining fixtures once the current lockdown has ended.
"Why push the boundaries and undo any work that we all will be putting in over the next few months in lockdown? he said.
"I saw Gus from Dereham Town tweet the other day and he said the possibility of a disrupted third season is distinctly increased if we fit 30-40 games in a two or three month period. I agree with that completely.
"Extending the season wouldn’t work for us as a club anyway, as we share a ground with the cricket team and other clubs across the country have the same set up."
On the possibility of combining results from last season with the current campaign, Stokes added: "I’m not on board with that at all.
"How can that be used when teams have played 10 games with completely different squads this time around, with several being stronger because of the reprieve they were given?
"Effectively, you could end up rewarding teams with a promotion on top of the second chance they were handed.
"If everyone had the same team as last year then you could definitely argue it more and I'd understand the thinking behind it, but to use 10 games from this season would be laughable."