South Liverpool FC manager Martin Ryman has expressed some of the challenges facing the club this season following the cancelled game against AFC Blackpool.
The team were on their way to the game when a collision caused a partial closure of the M6 in both directions. This was to allow an air ambulance to land on the motorway and take a man to hospital who’d suffered serious injuries following a collision with the central reservation.
Ryman said: “The accident unfolded as we were travelling so we didn’t actually get to Blackpool.”
Players, staff and supporters were on the team’s coach for three and a half hours for a journey that would usually take around an hour and 20 minutes.
While the match being called off was frustrating for oth teams, Ryman has sent South Liverpool’s best wishes to those involved in the collision and their families.
The 52-year-old said that Blackpool and the referees were very understanding of the situation, settling on a 9pm kick-off. However, by the time they would have arrived at the ground, it would have been far too late to start the game.
❌ Match Postponed ❌
Unfortunately, due to severe delays on the M6 and surrounding roads in the Wigan area, we were unable to get to @AFCBlackpool until well after 9pm.
We tried our best and left it as long as we could but it was not to be!
🤷 https://t.co/KT28RRfLvb pic.twitter.com/To87nRSSDQ
— South Liverpool FC (@SouthLplFC) February 14, 2023
SLFC are in the North West Counties Division One North League. Situations like the one they faced on Tuesday night are even more challenging for semi-professional teams.
Ryman said: “The lads were at work all day. They try to prepare right and eat at the right times. So it’s tough for them, and three and a half hours on a coach going nowhere is very frustrating for everyone.”
Some of the South Liverpool players were already at AFC Blackpool’s Jepson Way ground at 6:30pm, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive.
This isn’t the first time a vehicle-related delay has affected the club. Ryman recalled an away game at Chester where the car taking him and some players broke down on the motorway. He had to get the other travelling players to meet them on the hard shoulder to take the rest of the squad to the match, leaving the gaffer behind.
Tuesday night’s fixture has been rescheduled for March 7, adding to the side’s already crammed schedule.
“Easter weekend we’re due to play Good Friday and Easter Monday so it’s a tough old end to the season,” said Ryman.
Part of the reason for the heavy end to the season for SLFC is due to the squad’s success in cup competitions. They are in the quarter-finals of the Edwards Case Cup but went out of the Macron Cup following a 2-4 defeat to Bacup on Saturday.
— South Liverpool FC (@SouthLplFC) February 18, 2023
The South were promoted for this season. This wasn’t the only big change the club has been through. South Liverpool’s squad’s average age went from around 33 years old last year to 23 this year. Ryman feels this can help them finish the season well.
He said: “Last season we had a lot of ageing players who’d been here for a hell of a long time, and they’d been very successful. That heartbeat had got us through a lot of games. But the younger lads, with younger legs, can certainly play a few more games than the older lads.”