CORONAVIRUS hit football hard on the Isle of Wight, but the vote to continue playing the Saturday League has led to one casualty — and the possibility of more to follow.

One of the Island’s oldest clubs, Ventnor, has been forced to drop out of Division 1, with all of its results expunged.

With clubs forced to play catch up to complete the season by May 27, it has put a strain on many squads, such as ECS and Binstead & COB.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ventnor’s player-boss Liam Mulholland (in yellow and blue) was a big loss for the club since the restart of the Island League. FILEVentnor’s player-boss Liam Mulholland (in yellow and blue) was a big loss for the club since the restart of the Island League. FILE

A lot of players in full time work are simply not finding the time to play midweek fixtures because of the 6pm kick-off times.

It is a huge headache for managers trying to cobble a side together, putting them at an instant disadvantage — especially if they can’t get enough to for the subs bench.

Ventnor weren’t helped by the loss of two keys players — Kenny Cuthbert to long Covid and Liam Mulholland, their player-manager, to undergoing an operation.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The club’s chairman, George Creighton, who is Ventnor through and through, was bitterly disappointed to drop out of Division 1 under such circumstances, but was defiant about Ventnor’s future.

“It got a bit too much for us — to play 18 games in less than eight weeks,” he said.

“We tried to sign more players, but they weren’t having it. It’s been a nightmare, to be honest.

“Trying to get players to away games on a Tuesday night was very difficult. Most of the players are in the building trade and weren’t finishing until 5pm.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We voted against the restart because we knew how it was going to pan out playing three games a week.

“We had a lot of reserve players, but they didn’t want to play in the first team, which I found unbelievable. The game has certainly changed a lot.

“As a club we are debt free, but the football side has let us down recently.

“It has been demoralising, especially with the amount of time some of us put in, but we’ll be back next season in Division 2 and bounce back.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We’ve already got five players lined up and we’ll get Liam and Kenny back.

“There will be a quick turnover with pre-season, so we’ll be aiming to put a good, committed squad together.”

In the case of ECS, the club is looking for a new first team manager — and support from their senior players to take the club forward.

Caretaker boss, Aiden Jones, said the club’s future hangs in the balance.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The side lost 4-3 against Northwood on Tuesday evening — playing the only 11 they had available, without subs, and seven of them reserves, one of which is aged 16.

Aiden, also an injured player, said: “We were one of the few clubs who voted not to continue, but we will give it until the end of the season and hold an emergency meeting.

“If we don’t find someone to take over as manager, it’s all over for the former GKN club.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“I have a pub to run and there is literally no one else to do the job. We just want to see someone take it on and make it theirs.

“I sympathise with what Ventnor went through.”

James Connor, who manages Binstead & COB, said it had also been a struggle to put a team out, having not signed anyone before the restart, post lockdown.

  •  If anyone is interested in the ECS first team manager's post, contact Aiden Jones on 07805-374083, or Simon Neville on 07501-226202.