The city’s top non-league side Peterborough Sports were accused of treating the Peterborough & District League with a lack of respect last night (August 8).
Sports abandoned their plans to use the Peterborough Premier Division to develop young players for their fixture at reigning champions Netherton United. They had even changed their name at this level to ‘Peterborough Sports Development’ from ‘Peterborough Sports Reserves’ after a poor top-flight campaign last term.
Instead they used the fixture as match practice for a large number of first-team players who were brought to the club to play at Evo Stik League level - three divisions highers than the city’s flagship competition.
Sports broke no rules last night, but their actions have been questioned on a moral basis on social media today, after former chairman Stephen ‘Tommy’ Cooper had admitted they picked a team designed to get match practice and fitness into their senior players.
Sports had their pre-season plans hampered by having no friendly arranged for this Saturday (August 11) a week before their Southern League campaign starts.
Current Sports chairman Grant Biddle said: “Rules need to be reviewed. Gap of two weeks between games due to Southern League starting later than other leagues - and having an FA Cup bye not helping. Tried to get a friendly for Saturday, but everyone else committed. We would rather have found a reasonably local step 3 or 4 side to play at weekend.”
Leading local football commentator Alex Brown replied: “It’s a shame you feel the need to use a competitive Peterborough League as your pre season prep. Whole heartedly disagree with this and just hope this has no bearing on where the title ends up in May.”
Netherton secretary Ian Hair said: “This is not about rules. It shows a complete lack of respect to Netherton, the League and on a personal note myself as secretary/ex player.”
Netherton actually put up a decent fight before losing 3-1 to goals from first-team regulars Mark Jones and Avelino Vieira, and new signing Jake Newman.
Sports have been crushing higher-ranked sides than Netherton this summer, beating Holbeach United (7-0), Eynesbury Rovers (5-0) and Soham Town (4-0).
Wednesday, August 9
PETERBOROUGH & DISTRICT LEAGUE
Premier Division: ICA Sports 2, Peterborough Polonia 0; Langtoft United 0, Thorney 1; Tydd 5 (Clitheroe 4, Newcombe), Leverington Sports 1; Netherton United 1 Peterborough Sports ‘Development’ 3 (M. Jones, Newman, Vieira).