By Carl Jackson 27/04 Updated: 30/04 11:36
A CRICKET club is in danger of folding after 156 years because of repeated break-ins, lack of funding and sponsorship and dwindling player numbers.
Hewell Cricket Club, based at Hewell Lane in Tardebigge, could go under before its first game of the season on May 5 if it cannot find the funds for its overheads, which include a £1,000 electric bill.
In three years, 40 players have become 15, with Hewell reducing from two Saturday teams and a Sunday team to just one Saturday team. And with no sponsorship, matchday subs from players provide the main source of regular income, along with bar sales.
Three break-ins in three years have not helped the club’s financial situation. In 2009 a pitch mower worth at least £3,000 was stolen among other equipment. A year later the second-hand mower bought as a replacement was taken when thieves broke in through the clubhouse roof. And, in January this year, the club was hit again when raiders got in through the back door.
The break-ins have resulted in spiralling insurance premiums putting further strain on the club’s resources.
Matchborough resident Mark Wood, who has played for Hewell for ten years, said: “The amount of money the thefts have cost us in damages and stolen equipment is massive to a club like us.
“Even a new padlock for the gate will cost around £30 and that will have to come out of one of the player’s pockets.
“Redditch, Bromsgrove and other areas have a handful of teams who have all had good lottery funding - more than us.
“Considering we are one of the oldest teams, we are also one of the most poorly-funded. It doesn’t help we are in the middle of nowhere.”
Hewell Cricket Club was originally formed in 1856 and played on what is now the grounds of HMP Hewell.
It was in 1972 when the club moved to its current home and, three years ago, a new clubhouse was built with home and away changing rooms, showers and a bar. It replaced the old barn where players had to put a bucket under a hole in the roof to capture leaking water.
The club compete in the Crusader Worcestershire County Cricket League and players of all ages are welcome.
Anyone interested in making a donation to Hewell CC or anyone interested in playing for them should e-mail club secretary Dave Cooke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07966 498594.
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