BROWNE ON THE BALL: Is county bounty really a priority?

Dennis Greene's Pilgrims will now travel to Altrincham on April 1.
Dennis Greene's Pilgrims will now travel to Altrincham on April 1.

The Cheshire Senior Cup looks like an interesting and fun competition.

It takes 21 teams separated by as many as eight rungs in the footballing ladder - from League One Tranmere Rovers and Crewe Alexandra to Northwich Flixton Villa, currently propping up the North West Counties League Division One - and throws them all into one hat for a five-round knockout competition.

It also includes plenty of well-known non-league teams Boston United fans will be more than aware of; Macclesfield Town, Chester FC, Hyde United, Stockport County, Stalybridge Celtic, Witton Albion, Cammell Laird and Congleton Town, Runcorn and Nantwich to name a few.

Compared to the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, which includes just five teams (Scunthorpe United, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, the Pilgrims and Gainsborough Trinity), it arguably offers more competition and a little extra for the fans to get excited about.

But in the grand scheme of things, just how important is the competition?

I ask because on Tuesday night Boston United were due to travel to face Altrincham in a Skrill North play-off six-pointer, a match where the outcome could have enormous meaning for both sides.

But now the match has been re-arranged for April Fools’ Day because, we are told, a Cheshire Senior Cup quarter-final against Stalybridge Celtic takes priority.

But priority for who?

Perhaps for the Cheshire FA, as it’s their showpiece competition.

But surely the chance of Alty gaining promotion to the Skrill Premier (especially as Hyde are on their way back down) would be a bigger deal for both the club and their FA?

Instead, Alty and United will now meet in the final month of the season, where fixtures are already packed in tighter than a tin of clinically obsese sardines.

And that means the Pilgrims will now face seven matches (five away from home) in the space of four weeks in the final month of the season - hardly an ideal run-in.

Suddenly, tiredness and injury become greater factors - one knock leaving a player unavailable for three matches instead of one.

United have every right to feel hard-done-by, especially as this hectic final month is none of their own doing.

In the world of part-time football, clubs do not have the finances or resources to keep pitches immaculate throughout a season, and I find it impossible to blame clubs which are forced to continually postpone matches due to the elements.

But United’s ground staff have gone above and beyond this season, with not one single league match being postponed, on a pitch where the Pilgrims’ reserves also play.

Other clubs haven’t been so lucky fixture wise (in fairness, sometimes victims of their own success with additional cup runs), and that’s why United have now had to shoe-horn in treks to Altrincham and Colwyn Bay to an already busy month.

Postponements have left other clubs in far worse positions.

Guiseley and Oxford still have 15 matches to fit into seven weeks, with Workington, Altrincham and Gloucester having 14 league matches left.

These teams have all been forced to postpone numerous home matches, but potential promotion rivals Guiseley and Alty only have one extra match to play in that final month each, having the luxury of spreading their contests out further than Boston, who have a quiet five-match weekend-only March.

In a perfect world, you’d like to think that getting your matches played on the designated date would work to your favour, to allow you the luxury of a much-needed rest.

But for United that hasn’t been the case.

The Cheshire Senior Cup looks like a cracking county competition... But I’d struggle to call it a priority.