Cricket club anger over Uppies and Downies damage

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Workington Cricket Club’s chairman has pleaded with players of the town’s Uppies and Downies game to show more respect during the mass football event.

Stephen Miller said townsfolk were being forced to “pick up the cost of tradition” after damage caused at the first game of the 2015 series.

He said the club had been forced to cancel a pre-season match due to the damage caused on Good Friday to the pitch, which had been carefully prepared over the winter months.

The Ernest Valentine ground was left strewn with litter, a door and fencing was damaged, and club members found tyre tracks on the grass.

Mr Miller said: “Most years we get some sort of damage. We try to be nice and keep the gates open.

“It’s not necessarily the people that play the game, but the people that come to see it and use it as an excuse to do things that on any other night of the year would be illegal.

“Uppies and Downies is part of Workington, we don’t want to stop it, but we just want people to show a little bit of respect.”

Joe Clark, a veteran Uppie, said: “I can only apologise on behalf of the players. The damage wasn’t malicious at all.

“The litter is not the players’ fault. They don’t carry cans of lager while they play, it’s the youngsters who usually congregate at the park.

“During the Tuesday game, a car was about to slide down in the beck and the players stopped and pushed it back up.

“The game has been in the town long before the cricket club.

“We can’t say to the players not to go in certain places, because there are no rules.

“When the leisure centre site used to be allotments, the tenants used to be there and push the ball back if it went on their land and that’s something that could be done on the cricket pitch.

“If they put some men every 10 yards, who could push the ball over the wall if it goes there, that could help.”

Mr Miller added: “We’ve been working since September to bring the pitch to condition and now it’s all been undone.

“It’s going to take a long time and a lot of work to put the pitch back to the condition it should be before the season starts and we’ve had to cancel the pre-season game.”

Police said they were called at about 8.30pm, with a report of offenders causing around £250-worth of damage to a wooden gate, metal fencing, and the cricket pitch.

Ken Reed, 84, of Northumberland Street, who is a volunteer groundsmen, said: “I’ve been doing this since the 1970s and I was very upset when I saw all the damage on Saturday morning. It’s organised brutality.

“Years ago we used to stay on the pitch and move the players if the ball came here, but it’s not so much the players, it’s the followers that do the damage.”

Mr Miller added: “We are suggesting that someone in the modern age needs to take responsibility and accountability for the game.

“We are a club that relies on volunteers and are left to pick up a bill running into several hundred pounds every year due to damage caused by Uppies and Downies.

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