The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc across every sport, from professional to amateur level, but the ongoing disruption took a bizarre and somewhat comical turn on Saturday when Oxford United tried to travel to face Accrington Stanley in League One.
With players and staff safely aboard the team bus and ready to set off from their hotel for the Crown Ground, an alcohol-based spray was used on board to prevent potential spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Safety was very much in mind but the anti-viral spray interfered with the coach’s in-built system designed to prevent drink-driving. The coach driver had not touched a drop but the 70% proof spray rendered the coach unusable for the next six hours.
Products such as the Alcolock require the coach’s driver to provide a breath sample before every journey. As a result of the safety system kicking in, Oxford’s players were forced to find other modes of transport to get to the stadium for their third league match of the season.
Oxford’s head coach, Karl Robinson, told the Oxford Mail: “The problem is the blowing machine got affected by the alcohol gel on the coach, which meant when he [the driver] blew into it the coach stalled and wouldn’t start for six hours. We had to use staff cars, taxis, you name it to get to the ground.”
“This week has certainly been sent to test us. It is what it is, you can’t change it. We know things aren’t falling in our favour. But it won’t affect our attitude, the players are motivated by what’s gone wrong. That’s the beauty of life, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Oxford United sit bottom of League One having lost their first two matches, most recently against Sunderland last week. Robinson will no doubt hope they can toast victory with a drink this evening but presumably, if the coach is operational in time, they will risk the journey back to Oxford without deploying the anti-viral spray.