Outside the Box: Cold comfort as Bradford set club record – 73 days without a home game

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The Independent Football

Now it is official that last month was Britain's coldest December since details were first collated, how many unwanted new football records will be set because of this winter's weather? One already created, which may be further extended this week, is at Bradford Park Avenue, the Evo-Stik (former Northern Premier) League club, who have not played at home since losing to Frickley Athletic on 30 October. They have suffered seven consecutive postponements from snow, frost, waterlogging – everything bar plagues of frogs – and in so doing they set a new club record. A League Challenge Cup derby at home to AFC Halifax Town is due on Tuesday, which would be 73 days since the previous home game. The previous record was set in the long winter of 1962-63, when Avenue went 61 days without a home game, between Third Division home fixtures against (coincidentally) Halifax Town on 4 January and Peterborough United on 6 March. The pile-up proved costly and they were relegated on goal average, joining neighbours Bradford City in Division Four. Replaced as a League club in 1970, they went into liquidation before reforming in 1988.

Highland fling may run over

As the weather in the north of Scotland has been as bad, if not worse, than anywhere else, the Highland League has been severely affected. Only three games took place in December, before something like a full programme last weekend, when seven of the scheduled 10 games took place. John Grant, the League secretary, was putting on a brave face when he told us that though there had been 71 postponements, "at the same time last year we had 69 games to catch up with, so we are similar to that. We aim to finish before 15 May, but we may run over". The idea of a winter break has not been discussed since the League tried it once in the Seventies, which proved to be one of the mildest of winters.

That Heskey kid was right

A Sunday sermon to finish: when will players realise that it is not their job to kick the ball out because a player is injured? Emile Heskey's sending-off for Aston Villa on Wednesday came about because Sunderland were aggrieved with him for carrying on playing when striker Asamoah Gyan was lying down. But Law Five is clear: "The referee... stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured... (the ref) allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured." Simples.