Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 24th November 2020

Winter thefts cause outrage among hard-working clubs

By Charles Randall

23 January 2018 

It is inevitable that a number of cricket clubs in any winter will suffer break-ins and thefts during the winter months. Isolation makes these places vulnerable and tempting, and often it is the damage caused, rather than the theft, that hits hardest.

On top of any financial loss a feeling of injustice can pervade when a club does so much voluntary work for the local community.

Maidenhead & Bray CC, renowned in Berkshire for their fund-raising days for charity through their president Sir Michael Parkinson, had ground maintenance equipment stolen recently, including a precision mower and an aerator. Thieves broke into a locked container during the night. The club's secretary Tom Allen said: "People are volunteering and putting their own time in, and this just ruins their hard work."

This is the time of year when clubs might consider buying second-hand equipment for early turf preparation before the start of the season. It is important that the provenance of used equipment up for sale is checked carefully as thousands of pounds-worth of stolen items tend to find a way into this high-value market. Carlton CC, in the Selby area of Yorkshire, lost two precision mowers and a rotary mower, worth more than £20.000 in total, taken by thieves.

Sadly vandalism and opportunistic theft from pavilions continues every winter. Bexhill CC suffered damage some time during New Year's night when intruders broke in two doors to gain access to their machinery shed at Polegrove Sports Ground. After that they forced the club room door by breaking a glass panel and then smashed through a solidly built fire door. Among the items stolen were a charity jar almost full of cash, till takings and spirits. The television was ripped off the wall.

This rounded off a bleak year for the club after they finished bottom of the Sussex Premier League in 2017. Though the burglary came as a nasty setback, Bexhill at least escaped relatively lightly.

Standish CC, in Greater Manchester, had their Green Lane pavilion wall smashed in and wooden panels ripped off as thieves gained entry and looted the alcohol stockroom in December. Thousands of pounds-worth of damage was done, and a booking had to be cancelled due to lack of alcohol provision.

The Standish treasurer Ian Stewardson said the thieves had attempted access in two separate places. "The repairs are probably going to be more expensive than replacing what we’ve had stolen," he said. "I think we’re talking several thousand pounds. The lads who play cricket work really hard to keep this club going and we make a decent contribution to the local community, so it feels like an insult when this happens."

Morecambe CC suffered loss after burglars forced some window shutters and smashed the glass to gain entry. They used hammers to break open gaming machines and stole £250 in cash.

Clayton CC, in Bradford, suffered simple mindless vandalism. Wooden railings and pillars were kicked in beyond repair and memorial benches were damaged. The chairman Howard Stead estimated the repair bill at more than £1,500. "We’re a small community club that puts so much effort into running junior teams and playing our part in the community," he said, "but there’s that element that tries to spoil it for everybody."