Charming Town skipper Henry keeps game on with childlike request

Sweet-talking Hatters skipper Ronnie Henry convinced referee Kevin Johnson to keep Town’s game against Barnet on New Year’s Day going with his childlike request for ‘five more minutes’, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 2nd January 2014, 11:01 am
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Although playable at the start, the Kenilworth Road pitch looked unplayable after the break and Johnson looked to halt the encounter when he called over both captains just before the hour.

However, Henry was able to talk him out of calling a halt to the game with the Hatters leading 2-0.

He said: “Considering when he pulled me in and their captain at 60 minutes and said ‘I don’t think I’m going to carry on, that’s enough’, until I kind of almost had to beg him to carry on and give us five more minutes. He agreed with me in the end and we finished the game.

“He gave me his rundown of his reasons and he was going to call it off obviously, but I had my reasons with him and I tried to change his mind and I think it worked in the end and he gave us five more minutes and by the time that five minutes was up it was nearly the end of the game so it was great in the end to get the result.”

Town’s second goalscorer on the day, Paul Benson was delighted that his skipper had been able to talk the official around.

He said: “According to Ron he was basically saying he thinks it’s gone as far as it could have gone, I don’t think he was too keen on continuing it. Ron being Ron, probably with his powers of persuasion, managed to turn it around. I think we owe Ron a debt of gratitude for that, because he’s managed to keep the game on I think. So well done to him.”

Both felt the pitch was perfectly playable at the start of the game and both felt it shouldn’t have started if Johnson wasn’t prepared to see it through.

Henry continued: “When I went in the referee’s office at the start of the game he said he was going to have a look at it. I personally prefer the game to be called off before the game rather than play 60 minutes of the game and then call it off.

“I just don’t see the point in that, one team’s winning and it’s not easy for it to be called off. And if Barnet came back here and beat us it would be a gutter.

“It was playable at the start and on 60 minutes when he pulled me in I think that was the right thing to do, to play the game to the end and get a result.”

Benson admitted he had never played in conditions so extreme before, saying: “It was nothing like I’ve experienced before in a football match, but you come up against all different types of things in the course of a season and today that was thrown up and we dealt with it and we dealt with it probably better than Barnet so in that respect I think we deserved to come away with the three points.”

But Benson was adamant that the pitch was good enough before the start of the game, but expected it to be called off at the break.

He said: “Before the game, warming up, not really, it wasn’t too bad warming up. There were areas you thought ‘yeah that’s probably a bit dodgy’. But at the time warming up, maybe when they done the inspection, I saw them doing the inspection and they were rolling the ball and it was rolling fine in the right areas. I think it was a tough one for the ref because you kind of always knew there was going to be rain on the way. So do you take that into account when you do the pitch inspection. Do you do the inspection on its merits of how it is at the time? So it’s a tough one. At the time they did the inspection the pitch was playable.”

However, he was amazed the game reached a conclusion, adding: “Absolutely. I thought at half time maybe they would call it a day, but once we came out and played the second half and got past an hour pushing on 65-70 minutes, then you’re thinking there’s no point calling it off now because you’ve come so far, it’s not really going to get any worse and probably the best thing that could have happened was Barnet scoring because it stopped them from complaining and asking the ref to call it off. So that was probably the best thing that could have happened for us.”