UNHAPPY Stourbridge players suffered a lengthy and needless five hour trip to North East England on Saturday only to have their top of the table clash with hosts Tynedale called off at late notice.

That was after the sides had failed to agree on the condition of Tynedale's Corbridge pitch.

Stourbridge Director of Rugby Neil Mitchell stressed he was concerned about the dangerous state of an area of the pitch which was shielded from the sun by the stand.

In a statement he said: "I have considerable experience as a Director of Rugby over 14 seasons and I know if a pitch is dangerous to play on".

Mitchell went onto add: "I was contacted by Tynedale Director of Rugby Scott Lawson by phone on the Friday who informed me that the pitch should be ok based on the weather and the overnight forecast.

 "He also informed me that provision had been made to play the match at Newcastle Falcons Kingston Park ground if we made the trip up and the pitch proved unplayable.

 "This in my opinion was reasonable and fair offer which eradicated the need to alter travel arrangements from the Midlands as the game would still take place if the pitch was frozen at Corbridge.

 "Bearing in mind I had players travelling from South Gloucester to meet at Stourbridge for 6-45am and heavy snow overnight, this was particularly reassuring.

 "I spoke to Scott again when we got to Wetherby Services at 11am and he informed me the pitch would be playable and I informed the players of this".

However Mitchell went onto reveal that two of his players had made the trip to Tynedale by car and arrived at the ground early. They claimed that part of the pitch in front of the main stand was rock solid.

 Mitchell states that he inspected the area immediately upon arrival at Corbridge and was concerned about the playing surface.

 He added: "I informed both the referee and Scott Lawson that we were unwilling to play on the pitch due to safety concerns.

"Because we were staying overnight, there were no issues with driver hours as we could play the fixture at Kingston Park for a 5-30pm kick off. I put this to Scott, who then informed me the option to play at Kingston Park was withdrawn.

 "The matter has not only resulted in considerable cost being undertaken, but also a great deal of inconvenience.

 "I had a verbal assurance that the game would take place. Even the Tynedale website advertised the fact that the game would be played at Kingston Park if the pitch was unplayable!

Scott Lawson responded later and insisted: "In my opinion the pitch was 100 per cent playable. I was quite happy with the state of it.

"I think Stourbridge got it into their heads that they were going to play at Kingston Park and didn't want to play the game at Corbridge.

 "Stourbridge were late arriving. Had they arrived earlier we could have have switched the game to Kingston Park, but we had to let them know by a certain time.

"My players were already out preparing for the game when Stourbridge arrived. Kingston Park was only an option We were under no obligation to offer them an alternative pitch."

Stour will now take on Macclesfield at Stourton park this Saturday (3pm kick-off) as they look for their first win in five.