ASTON VILLA players took to the Norfolk Broads – but Town’s stayed by the fireside.
Leeds Road manager Ian Greaves ordered his players to rest after heavy snowfall forced the postponement of the Second Division leaders’ home match against Oxford United.
While Town were six points in the clear, at the other end of the table, Villa were three points adrift at the bottom after a 3-1 setback at Norwich City.
And boss Tommy Docherty, desperate to find a way to change his side’s fortunes, abandoned training and instead took up sailing as he prepared for the following Tuesday’s crunch trip to Millwall.
Town were next due in action at home to 14th-placed Norwich the following Saturday, and Greaves was looking forward to a full week’s preparation as his side chased a fifth successive victory.
“We’d rather have played Oxford, because now we have another midweek game to slot in,” said the boss, who had been named Bell’s Manager of the Month for January.
“But the weather is beyond our control, so we will pick the positives, and the fact that the players have had a chance to rest up is one of those.”
Greaves had used only 14 players in the 30 league games to date, and two of them, striker Brian Greenhalgh and winger Les Chapman, had started only seven games between them.
A December injury to winger Bobby Hoy had opened the door to Steve Smith, with the other regular picks goalkeeper Terry Poole, full-backs Dennis Clarke and Geoff Hutt, centre-halves Roy Ellam and Trevor Cherry, midfielders Jimmy Nicholson, Jimmy McGill and Colin Dobson and frontmen Frank Worthington and Jimmy Lawson.
Worthington was the flair player, and had taken his season’s goal haul to 15 with a last-gasp winner in the previous game at Charlton Athletic.
While the players relaxed, Greaves, his assistant manager and ex-Manchester United teammate Henry Cockburn and coach Roy McLaren, the former St Johnstone, Bury and Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, all headed out on separate scouting missions, although they refused to reveal their respective destinations!
Elsewhere in Division II, Cardiff City went third and joined out-of-action Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United on 37 points after drawing 1-1 with Carlisle United at Ninian Park.
QPR were fifth on 35 points after winning 2-1 at Hull City, while Blackpool continued their improved form with a 3-2 victory at second-bottom Portsmouth.
Leicester won 1-0 in the battle of the Citys at Birmingham, Millwall defeated Bolton Wanderers 2-0 in South London and Watford were 2-0 home winners over Bristol City.
Town, meanwhile, were celebrating an England Youth call-up for teenage centre-half John Riordan.
The Dewsbury 18-year-old, who was on amateur forms with the Leeds Road club and had made four reserve appearances, was picked for the forthcoming clash with Wales at Reading.