Cup final lights failure sparks anger

Cameron Newbold and Taj StubberAlbany Advertiser
Caledonians' Nicholas Fox runs onto the ball.
Camera IconCaledonians' Nicholas Fox runs onto the ball. Credit: Laurie Benson

The Great Southern Soccer Association has indicated the Federation Cup final will be replayed in full, at the earliest next week, after the men’s top-tier decider ended in farcical scenes last Saturday night.

Caledonians and Phoenix were level at 1-1 in the cup final when the ground lights went out midway through extra time.

The lights were off for more than 15 minutes before coming back on but GSSA officials had already made the call to abandon the final after players had already cooled down and it was already past 9.30pm.

The cup final was set down for 6.30pm at the North Road soccer grounds but did not begin until after 7pm following extra time in the men’s social/vets cup final earlier in the afternoon.

The City of Albany has refuted claims made by the GSSA that it could not contact anyone to assist in getting the lights turned back on.

Phoenix's Shane Marino gets clear of Caledonians’ Josh Vannie.
Camera IconPhoenix's Shane Marino gets clear of Caledonians’ Josh Vannie. Credit: Albany Advertiser

City executive director of community services Susan Kay said in a statement provided to the Advertiser that all users of their grounds could amend bookings of the lights at any time.

“The lighting control system at Centennial and Collingwood Park is an internet/web-based management user-pay sports lighting system,” she said.

“The association bookings for the fields and lights are made by the various sporting registrars and the system is reliant upon the associations and clubs making accurate bookings for both training and games.

The lights turn off when the booking expires or there is a power shortage.

“The Federation Cup final was scheduled to 9pm as per the booking made by the GSSA.

“Users can easily amend bookings through the City of Albany Recreation Services (office hours) or through the City of Albany’s after-hours service number 1800 633 000.”

Caledonians' Nathan Kay takes on Phoenix's Leroy van den Dool.
Camera IconCaledonians' Nathan Kay takes on Phoenix's Leroy van den Dool. Credit: Albany Advertiser

GSSA president Bernard De Bunnetat said Saturday night’s incident left the soccer community angered and was the third time lights had gone off during matches.

“The scenes on the night were farcical and embarrassing for both the GSSA and the City,” De Bunnetat said. “The GSSA had three of our men’s leagues cup finals played on Saturday, two of which were very close encounters that went into extra time.

“The Federation Cup final had to be called off at the halfway mark of extra time when the grounds descended into darkness.

“The GSSA did not have the ability to restart the match as we are denied access to manual control of the lights at the North Road grounds, this despite repeated requests to the City and issues with lighting at the grounds on no fewer than four occasions this season.

“We were unable to contact anyone from the City or ALAC to help us turn the lights back on and the game was called off 25 minutes after the lights went out.

“A contracted electrician was able to eventually get the lights on, but unfortunately by that time it was too late to restart the match and this regrettable incident has angered many in the soccer community.”

The cup final lived up to its expectations, with Jeremy Everett netting the first goal just minutes before half-time to help Caledonians take a 1-0 lead into the break.

Phoenix dominated the majority of the second half but could not capitalise on their chances before Bronson Dekker was on the receiving end of good ball movement to equalise inside the final 10 minutes and send the game to extra-time.

Earlier in the day, Old Boyz won the social/vets cup final 2-1 in extra-time against Polonia while Caledonians beat Polonia Eagles 3-1 in the men’s reserves cup final.

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