THE weather took its toll on Scottish football yesterday, when five league matches fell victim to horrendous conditions, including the abandoned Premiership encounter between Partick Thistle and St Johnstone.
As 70mph winds battered the country, Rangers’ match at Stenhousemuir was postponed because of structural damage to a temporary stand at Ochilview.
Queen of the South’s Championship clash with Falkirk at Palmerston was abandoned after half an hour. In League Two, Annan Athletic’s meeting with Queen’s Park was called off, while Stirling Albion’s match with Elgin City was postponed just 15 minutes before kick-off.
The match at Firhill was scoreless when Kevin Clancy, the referee, decided to call a halt at half-time. He had allowed the match to start, thanks to groundstaff who swept water from the pitch, but with rain continuing to fall, one wing became too wet for the ball to run freely.
“The ultimate factor for us was player safety,” said Clancy. “We felt approaching half-time that there were parts of the park where the ball wasn’t rolling properly. So it had the potential for ruining the match, but also causing injury to a player.”
Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, had no complaints, although his Thistle counterpart, Alan Archibald, was more frustrated. He had asked for the game to be started, but was not so sure, on reflection, that it should have been.
One of his players, Isaac Osbourne, had to go off injured, and another, Gabriel Piccolo, received a yellow card that will stand, despite the abandonment. “We have now got a booking and an injury so I would say the game shouldn’t have started,” said Archibald. “It is also a strange rule that bookings from this match count. I think it is something they need to look at and change.”
Rangers manager Ally McCoist praised the decision to postpone his side’s match at Stenhousemuir. “It’s 100 per cent the right decision,” he said. “We are disappointed because the boys are on a great run but we’re totally behind the decision in terms of the safety aspect of it.”
Stenhousemuir manager Martyn Corrigan also had no doubts, even though it will cost his club a big pay day because the match was due to be shown live on BT Sport.