"At the halfway point of the season I offer a few thoughts and observations on how the rule changes and new competitions have worked so far.
Overall I feel that the competitions are running well. The Suffolk League fixtures have all been played on time. The Under 125 fixtures have just been published. The initial round of the Cup and Plate has been completed and the fixtures for the first knock-out matches for both the Cup and Plate have been scheduled and the first of these has been played.
We did not change the rule regarding the acceptable reasons for postponing a fixture but we did change the Competitions Secretary who oversees these postponements! Clearly I see things a little differently from our previous Competitions Secretary and there were some minor complaints when I insisted on the application of our newly revised rules as they stand. Certain 'gentlemen's agreements' that allowed postponements because of player non-availability were seen to be in contravention of our brand new rule book. These agreements were cancelled despite pleas that they were established custom and practice.
We changed the default rule from always on the lowest board to the board on which the player was absent. Some concern was expressed within the rules revision sub-committee about the possibility of tactical defaulting. So far such fears appear to be baseless as there has been a similar level of defaults to the previous seasons that were run under the old rules. There may be more defaults ahead as substitutes reach the limits on the number of times they are allowed to play but that is a separate issue. Let us hope this will be a very small number.
For all their complexity the new substitution rules only apply to clubs with more than one team in the league and all seems to be working as intended.
The database produced by Dave Wild to track the main teams, substitutions for higher teams, lower teams and teams in the same division is working well; without it I am certain I would not have been able to cope with the detailed record-keeping that rule 5.4 requires. Thanks again go to Dave Wild for his excellent coding skills.
As I hope you are all aware I do not want to use penalties to ensure rule compliance. However I feel I need to be fairly rigorous when captains fail to meet the requirement to be accurate and punctual when entering the match results. The whole database is only as good as these match result entries and until they are entered, confirmed and approved, the rest of the functions, in particular the substitutions monitoring system, are out of date.
In this area I have applied a penalty and have had to be proactive and warn captains of the consequences of their late entry of results. Perhaps we need to be more careful in teaching any new captain how to enter results and ensuring that every new captain has the correct access to the database. Once asked, Dave Wild is always very quick to set up a new captain and to ensure correct access but if he is not asked then how can he or I know that such action is needed?
There have been no ineligible players fielded although Ipswich did default a game for match purposes and then agreed and played a friendly game on that board with an ineligible player filling the slot. That gave the player who had travelled to Ipswich a graded game, avoided a penalty and was, I believe, the correct and proper action.
Cup and Plate
There have been some minor misunderstandings of the new Cup and Plate rules in particular Rule 1 which allows teams to opt out if they wish and Rule 2 where a player may play for only one team.
So far the new rules and the new Comps Sec seem to be doing what is expected.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year and if the second half of the season is as good as the first half I will be very satisfied with my efforts."