Derby day washed out by torrential thunderstorm

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Raith Rovers and Dunfermline will have to wait until Tuesday, August 5 to play their washed-out Petrofac Training Cup tie.

Hopes of quickly re-arranging for the game for this Tuesday were knocked on the head by police because of their existing commitments to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, according to officials who briefed the media after the cancellation.

The date was confirmed just minutes after the opening game of the season remarkably failed to go ahead after a torrential downpour and thunderstorm.

What had been a beautiful summer’s day in Dunfermline turned into a monsoon. The heavens opened as the teams warmed up, and the deluge was simply too much for the park to cope with.

The thunder and lightning storm which followed also partially knocked out the power to the main stand and dressing-rooms, resulting in a ten-minute delay to the 3.00 p.m. kick-off.

With all the fans already in the ground - many of them soaked to the skin having been caught in the downpour walking along Halbeath Road - the players returned to the dressing room, As they did, large pools of water started to form on the pitch.

The penalty box in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand was particularly badly affected by the downpour, while the flank closest to the main stand was clearly unplayable.

Match referee Steven McLean delayed the kick-off further to allow ground staff to do what they could, but it was clear they were fighting a losing battle such was the sheer volume of rain which fell in such a short, but devastating period of time.

They were joined by youth players and club officials as they brushed water off the pitch in synchronised teams- at one stage there were around 15 people working on parts of the surface, with the vast majority concentrating on the goal area.

The referee returned around 3.30 p.m. for a second inspection but whenever he tried to kick a ball it simply stopped in a pool of water. When he threw it into the air it simply sank into the soft ground.

He checked both goal areas as well as the midfield area and it was clear the match stood no chance of starting.

At 3.40 p.m. an announcement was made confirming the postponement.

‘‘Unfortunately we have to announce today’s game will not go ahead. This is entirely due to player safety,’’ it said.

It came as the Raith players returned briefly to applaud the away fans before returning to the dressing-room.

Both managers were philosophical about the call-off.

Grant Murray, Raith Rovers, said: ‘‘I’ve no complaints. Credit to the ground staff who did their very best, but the referee had to make a call and had to look at the safety of the players.’

‘‘At least we’ll both be in the draw on Tuesday!’’

As he spoke it started to rain again, underlining it was the only decision that could be taken.

Jim Jeffries, Dunfermline boss, added: ‘‘The water just wouldn’t move quickly enough. The referee made two inspections and you could see as he kicked the ball around some of the places where it could be dangerous. It’s a real shame as we were looking forward to it.’’