When the fixtures are set and rolled out over the summer ahead of a new season, don’t plan your life around them.
If there’s one thing that’s certain in this world, it’s a non-league club getting games postponed.
Most of the time, it’s down to the bad weather. Storm Emma caused chaos to fixture lists across the country this winter.
Cast your minds back to last season in the First Division, when Litherland REMYCA and City of Liverpool occupied first and second respectively.
That was until Widnes and Charnock Richard won their games in hand, which were in double figures, and leap-frogged both Merseyside clubs to gain automatic promotion for themselves.
It’s not always a bad thing in cases such as this, although at the time I bet both those clubs would have preferred to already have their points on the board.
With the end of the season fast approaching, some teams under the league umbrella face a hectic schedule.
Remember, most of the people involved at these club’s have work commitments and a family life outside of their footballing occupation.
Well, they won’t have for the rest of the season.
Here’s the top five clubs facing a relentless game-after-game climax as we head into the summer. No prizes for guessing who’s number one, either.
5. Bacup Borough
Brent Peters’ side have had 26 games postponed this season. Twenty six. The most recent one being on Wednesday evening at home to Silsden.
They’ve almost had as many games called off as they have actually played – 27 league games have been finished so far.
Of the 26, 18 of the cancelled games have been home affairs. The Brian Boys West View Stadium is going to see a fair bit of action in the run-in.
The side didn’t play a competitive game from 18th November 2017, when they beat St Helens Town 2-1 away from home, until Boxing Day – Nelson picked up one of their four leagues wins this season in a 3-0 victory.
15 games remain for Boro, with 11 of them being at home. Five of these home games come back-to-back inside just 10 days.
They’ll be hoping to use the run to their advantage and steer well clear of the relegation places.
4. New Mills
Having called off their home game against REMYCA at the last minute on Tuesday night, New Mills now face 15 games in just over a month themselves.
They begin their end-of-season schedule with a trip to Carlisle City on Saturday, and end it away at Holker Old Boys.
Their first postponed game of the season came in August, when they were set to face Chadderton in only the third game of their campaign.
Only three league games managed to go ahead in December, of which they won one and lost two.
They face a difficult end to the season, and will have to play all of the current top six in the first division back-to-back.
Beginning with the re-arranged REMYCA game on 5th April, they face Silsden, Prestwich Heys, Whitchurch Alport, Sandbach United and finally Cammell Laird on 21st April.
Only Silsden and Cammell Laird are away from home, but that’s still one hell of a sequence of games for the Church Lane side.
3. Ashton Athletic
The first Premier Division side to make the list (but not the last) are Ashton Athletic, who have 16 games left to play before the curtain falls on their campaign.
Having just exited the Macron Cup at the hands of Widnes in the quarter final, it’s all league games from here on out for Jay Foulds and Dougie Pitts’ men.
After reaching round three of the FA Vase as well, their league games have started to pile up (more of this later in the list).
Currently sat in 12th with no real danger of being relegated, Ashton aren’t under much pressure to win their remaining games.
They will be keen to put a few more points on the board and climb the table as high as they can, though.
They’re seven games off schedule, and those games should give top scorer Dale Korie-Butler a chance to add to his already-impressive 27 goals in all competitions.
He’s currently the sixth-highest scorer in the division – just five off second, but 14 off first.
2. Prestwich Heys
A team firmly rooted in a playoff position in the First Division, Heys’ are four games behind the top two – as well as being 13 points off catching REMYCA in second.
Win their games in hand, however, and they pull themselves back to within a point of catching the side who play their football at Litherland Sports Park.
To do that though they face three games a week at some stages, including their last three home games coming inside seven days.
Tuesday 24th April sees them host Alsager Town, followed by Atherton LR on Friday 27th, and finally fellow promotion-chasers Whitchurch Alport the Tuesday after.
A trip to Bacup Borough on the Thursday night then ensues, before they end their season at Daisy Hill.
With their LWC Drinks Cup Semi Final second leg against Sandbach United, Jon Lyons men face 17 games in the space of a month. You can add at least one more game to that if they finish in a playoff space.
1. 1874 Northwich
I told you there wasn’t going to be any prizes for guessing this one.
After a sensational run in the FA Vase, which sadly ended at the semi final stage, 1874 have a mountain to climb.
They’ve only played 23 league games so far. To put that into perspective: league leaders Runcorn Linnets have played 35.
A monumental 22 games remain before the season-ending fixture against Squires Gate on 5th May.
It could end up being 23 if they beat Winsford United in the semi final of the Mid Cheshire Senior Cup on 5th April.
People argue that it’s unfair. That a team who’ve been highly successful in a pretty prestigious cup competition are now punished for doing so well by having to squeeze in 23 games in 38 days.
It’s a difficult situation, of course, but it’s not a punishment. 1874 have had 27 games postponed over the period of this season.
The cup games may have reduced the chances to replay their cancelled fixtures, but it’s not the reason they face arguably the most severe fixture congestion in world football – never mind English football.
Would they swap the FA Vase run to play less games towards the end of the season? Absolutely not. Reaching the semi final is a great achievement and one they’ll cherish for the rest of time – and rightly so.
Other Notable Mentions
Irlam and Barnoldswick Town both have 15 remaining games in the first division, with Irlam yet to play 1874 Northwich at all this season.
Barnoldswick have had 22 games postponed this term, while Irlam have had to reschedule 18 fixtures.
In the first division, Cheadle Town and Abbey Hulton United have a bit of catching up to do, as they’re four and three games behind schedule respectively.
Both teams have lost 18 games to postponements – including six straight games being called off in December for Anthony Trucca’s Cheadle Town.
Abbey Hulton only managed to play four games out of a set 16 from 30th December until 20th February. The four games played ended with three defeats and a solitary win against Daisy Hill.
Do your side face a congested schedule heading into the summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.