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Non-League: Marlow's squad stage walk-out... on matchday

The Windsor Express have reported that 15 or 16 Marlow players texted manager Mark Bartley on Saturday morning saying they were 'unavailable' for the 3pm fixture.

Once the clock hit 1:45pm, only one player had arrived at Oak Tree Road before the game had to be called off, since the Buckinghamshire club did not have 11 players available by kick-off.

Neither the club's board, nor Bartley, claim to know the reasons why most of their players were no-shows.

A meeting has been called for Monday evening to debate the fall-out from the weekend. Marlow are likely to receive a fine from the league, but Bartley is confident his players will get back onside.

"I think clearly, if you get to a situation where the players aren’t there, there’s obviously been some coordination," he said.

"I’ve since spent some time speaking to all parties, the players, the board, my staff and we’re all having a meeting this evening. In an ideal world we’ll have the meeting today and then go and play our game tomorrow at Chalfont.

"That’s pretty much what the plan is for today. I think it will be done because there’s a game tomorrow and we need to play that game.

"There are a couple of things that I think we need to sit down and discuss. I’ve spoken to all the players and I’ve been in constant dialogue with the board.

"It’s easy to leverage everything on the players, but quite clearly there is responsibility for (what they did) on everyone – on the players, on me, on the board. We need to get everyone together, thrash it out and then concentrate on tomorrow’s game.

"It’s not the players that are solely responsible for this. All the key stakeholders will be at this meeting tonight so I think that shows willing on all sides to try to resolve this and make sure we fulfil our fixtures for the rest of the season."

Marlow's playing budget was cut in half over Christmas, which may have lowered morale, but Bartley believes there's more to the bizarre walk-out than meets the eye.

He added: "The (expenses being cut) has obviously had an impact, but it’s not the sole reason why Saturday unfolded as it did. There’s a little bit more to it than that.

"There’s a few different angles to it. Some of it is down to a breakdown in communication and that means there’s a responsibility on all parties."

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