Silver lining for Everton fan
Published 13/02/2014 | 07:42
Everton tried to make the best of a bad situation by giving a Malaysian fan the VIP treatment after severe weather forced the late postponement of their Premier League game against Crystal Palace.
On a day which saw the Met Office issue red warnings - the highest possible - for parts of Wales and north west England, gusts reaching 80-100mph and heavy rain wreaked havoc on traffic networks and a busy evening football schedule.
Manchester City's meeting with Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium was the first to go, with the home club citing "exceptional and escalating weather conditions" when announcing their decision.
Despite the turbulent weather affecting the Goodison Park area, Everton expected their match to kick off at 1945 until Merseyside Police finally ordered the postponement.
High winds had caused damage to buildings in the area while, inside the ground, Malaysian fan Ric Wee was among the thousands of Toffees supporters who tweeted about their disappointment.
Wee was in a unique position, having made a 7,000-mile journey from Kuala Lumpur, and Everton staff subsequently located him in the ground before introducing him to Toffees players and manager Roberto Martinez in the Goodison dressing room.
Wee had revealed on Twitter how he had been an Everton supporter for 30 years and that he had been close to realising his "dream" of watching the team play live for the first time.
Martinez said he was fully behind the decision to postpone the game.
He told evertontv: "You do (have to take safety into account). It's the safety of the fans coming to the ground. Because of the wind there has been a lot of building damage and the last thing we want is for any of the fans to get put in a position that is dangerous.
"It is disappointing because we were ready to go out and warm up. The preparation was there for both teams and you get the anti-climax. But as everyone has seen the police have called it off and rightly so."
Everton will hold talks with the Premier League on Thursday with a view to deciding a new date for the fixture.
City manager Pellegrini, whose side were aiming to go top of the Premier League table with a victory over Sunderland, also said the decision was a sensible one.
He told City's official website: "The safety of the City and Sunderland supporters is the most important thing and we understand and fully support the reasons behind the game being called off.
"We were ready to play this game but the well-being of the people coming to the Etihad is paramount. We hope everybody gets home safely, both in Manchester and Sunderland."
His opposite number Gus Poyet, meanwhile, told safc.com: "The bottom line was the police needed to make a strong decision.
"We were ready to play, but we understand that people have to make a decision and we totally support that."
Stoke's home meeting with Swansea, which finished as a 1-1 draw, had also been at risk but went ahead following two pitch inspections, with the kick-off delayed by 15 minutes.
A League One game was also beaten by the weather as heavy rain forced the postponement of the Sheffield United v Brentford clash.