Has the non-league game gone mad?

Thursday, October 22HAS the non-league game gone mad?I found myself asking - and trying in vain to answer - this question after I was told that Russell Stock was unable to play for Kirkley & Pakefield against former club Lowestoft Town in the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup on Wednesday night.

Thursday, October 22

HAS the non-league game gone mad?

I found myself asking - and trying in vain to answer - this question after I was told that Russell Stock was unable to play for Kirkley & Pakefield against former club Lowestoft Town in the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup on Wednesday night.

And the reason? I am told Lowestoft made it a condition of his summer move from Crown Meadow across town to Walmer Road that Stock would not be eligible to play against them in any cup competitions this season. What?


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Now I can understand why professional clubs insert such a clause when a player goes on loan to a rival club in the same division, or in case they meet each other in one of the domestic cups.

But that, as far as I am aware, only ever applies to a loan (or possibly in some cases a transfer) in the same season.

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Centre forward Stock decided against moving up to the Ryman League with Lowestoft, and all the extra time and travelling commitments that entails, due to work and family reasons, and instead opted to join their near neighbours.

The only cups that the two clubs could possibly meet each other in this season were the FA Cup - which they didn't - and the Suffolk Premier Cup.

But is it really right - and also fair - that a player at non-league level should be prevented from playing for this reason? It is not as if he has the consolation of earning thousands of pounds a week that the professionals do.

Were Lowestoft, the holders, wary that Stock might return to haunt them? I doubt it as they fielded an understrength side anyway and lost 2-0!

Were Lowestoft right to invoke such a condition in his move? And were Kirkley right to accept it?

I would be interested to know what you think.

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CONGRATULATIONS to Leiston on winning the Touchline Sports Senior Team of the Year award at the Suffolk Sports awards on Sunday night.

Leiston's success follows on from Lowestoft receiving the award last year and is a feather in the cap for not only both clubs but also the Ridgeons League.

Can one of the Ridgeons League clubs make it a hat-trick a year from now? I wouldn't bet against it such is the strength of the league at present.

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JOE ROYLE was never short of a quip during his time as manager of Ipswich Town.

One of my favourites came when Ipswich played at West Brom who he described as like playing a team from the Land of the Giants.

It was this phrase that sprung to mind when I saw the Ely side run out onto the pitch for their Premier Division match against Hadleigh United last Saturday.

By my reckoning there must have been at least six players who were over six foot tall - and some of them were several inches taller than six foot!

The biggest surprise of the afternoon was that the game's only goal came from the boot of Robbie Mason, rather than via a header from one of the numerous corners earned by the home team.

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IT NEVER ceases to amaze me who I come across, and where, on my travels around the Eastern Counties.

There I was standing in the clubhouse on my first ever visit to Ely City's Unwin Ground when in walked a supporter who immediately recognised me.

Not only was I quite taken aback, but I was none the wiser and had to confess I didn't know who he was and had to ask him to reveal his identity.

The mystery supporters was Kevin Felton, who used to play cricket for Coggeshall in the Two Counties Championship at the time when I was playing for Copdock, in addition to covering cricket for the East Anglian Daily Times and Evening Star.

Kevin, a leg spinner who took wickets by the bucketful, told me he left Coggeshall in 1992, and played for Colchester and East Essex and then Eight Ash Green before moving to Ely 14 years ago.

Now aged 44 - and with rather less hair than I remember! - Kevin these days skippers Ely's 2nd XI in the summer months and is a keen follower of the non-league scene, watching Cambridge United, Histon and Mildenhall Town as well as Ely.

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