WHAT'S THE BACUP PLAN?
"In the Highland League, Clachnacuddin have played 20 games so far, but Fort William only 14," writes Ken Colgan. "Is this the most games in hand a team has ever had?"
In a word, Ken, no, as John Cooke is quick to point out. "When my team, Chippenham Town, played away at Merthyr Tydfil on January 27 2007 in the Southern League Premier Division, we had played 26 games and Merthyr only 19."
However, that's nothing compared to the goings on in the North West Counties League Division One, where one team have a whopping 12 games in hand. Second-placed FC United of Manchester lie one point behind leaders Salford City with six games in hand, but Bacup Borough have played just 20 games compared to Salford's 32. "In December we had several away games called off due to Cup replays; in January the stormy weather up here meant we couldn't play any midweek games - and now we have a problem with frost," said Bacup boss Brent Peters when we tracked him down. "The groundsman hasn't been able to get on the pitch all week so I doubt we'll be playing this weekend either."
League rules state that all fixtures must be fulfilled by the last weekend in April, which leaves Bacup in rather dire straits - but it's nothing Peters hasn't seen before. "We had this situation last season as well," he grumbled. "It makes a mockery of the league. We ended up playing three times a week and teams coming here weren't seeing the real Bacup. We had so many of our squad injured that in the end I had to pull me boots on and turn out for the first team - and I'm 49!" Still, with Borough currently 38 points behind the leaders and a total of 39 still at stake, they could leap from 12th to 1st if they win all their games in hand. "If I'm honest we might just miss it by one point," chuckled Peters.