Carlisle United and Harrogate Town will have to try for a third time to come together for their first ever meeting following a second postponement on Wetherby Road on Tuesday night.
With the floodlights adding some welcome ambient light as officials and players started to arrive ahead of the game there was a collective intake of breath when the official club park, located in an adjacent primary school, was suddenly plunged into darkness as HG2 suffered a catastrophic loss of power.
Hopes of a successful flick of a switch or replacement fuse to bring good news were quickly dashed as unconfirmed reports suggested that a supply cable had been severed during some construction work.
Estimates of a fix being in place ahead of the scheduled kick off time of 7pm came and went, and the announcement of the postponement felt almost inevitable when those waiting patiently outside the stadium were eventually given the news.
Manager Chris Beech explained how events had unfolded after he had spoken to match referee Seb Stockbridge.
“Again, like last time, I haven’t encouraged anything,” he told us. “I’ve been here since 5 o’clock and I was really looking forward to an opportunity to play a league football match.
“It was unfortunate because as soon as I got here all the lights went off down the street, and it’s the grid that Harrogate’s floodlights are on, so there’s no light in the ground.
"The ref also had a concern that if he left it too late, because it’s colder tonight than it was when the last game was called off here, and we kicked off later than 8 o’clock he’d be in a different position of having to call a game off because of a frozen pitch.
“That’s at the same time as him contemplating when he can actually start a game while there’s no indication of when there would be sufficient light.”
“Initially he told us that he’d reassess every 15 minutes, because originally we were meant to kick off at 7pm,” he continued. “But I left the lads on the coach at that point because there were no lights on in the ground anyway.
“We couldn’t get ourselves ready or warm up with it all being in complete darkness. We still did the team sheets at a quarter to six in readiness for a 7pm kick off, but it wasn’t to be.”
On the situation when he first arrived at the stadium, he commented: “I was here at 5pm and the chap on the door ‘who are you.’ I said I’m the Carlisle manager, and just as I said that all the lights popped and that was it!
“I thought ‘here we go again’ and the lad on the gate was joking with us, because he’s a big York fan, and we just stood having a bit of banter. I was then called inside and I think Simon Weaver knows somebody who works as an electrician ,and they half-promised that it should be back on for half six.
“The ref said that due to the weather he’d look at it but that we should get our team sheets in at the normal time. He knew the players needed 40 minutes to get changed and warm up, and I think that’s why he first said he’d reassess every 15 minutes.
“I think he looked at the situation again as time went on and he called it off at 7 o’clock when he said ‘job done, we’ll have to go home’ and that’s where we are with it now. I was here before he arrived but a concern for him, as well as the lights, was the temperature forecast he was looking at.
“He told us that he couldn’t inspect the pitch in the dark, but he also indicated that even if the lights did come on it was likely to be called off for a frozen pitch.
“We’re stood here now half an hour after we should have kicked off and the lights still aren’t on. When he first got here he did say he’d give it to half eight, quarter to nine, but his concern was, looking at the temperature, that it was colder tonight than it was on the night when it was first called off.
“There’s an area in front of the dugout where there’s no grass, and there was no give, and unfortunately because the electricity isn’t working they weren’t able to use the big heat lamps they had out there last time. Everything started to look like we had no chance and he made his call.”
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