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Grantham sport scene wiped out by coronavirus

Sport in the area has been hit hard this week by the current coronavirus

The Government’s latest recommendations concerning social distancing have suspended pretty much everything on the sporting scene.

Last weekend still saw some action in several sports, but Grantham Town’s match was postponed after some of the Gingerbreads players reported flu-like symptoms.

Darren Ashton (29695940)
Darren Ashton (29695940)

Half the games in their league suffered the same fate and by Monday the Northern Premier League had, in line with the Football League’s actions, suspended the season for the time being.

An NPL statement on their website read: “The Northern Premier League has today decided, reluctantly, to suspend all fixtures until further notice in light of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

“Whilst the primary responsibility of the league is to the financial sustainability of its member clubs, the number of clubs reporting players or officials in self-isolation has now reached a point at which continuing to play games would severely undermine the integrity of the competition.

“The NPL is well aware that clubs and fans need clarity around whether the 2019/20 season is to be suspended temporarily or permanently, and the full implications of either eventuality.

“The NPL will be working with the other Alliance Leagues and the Football Association, to assess the various options and to agree a way forward.

“As soon as we are able to, we will share that information with member clubs and their supporters.”

Grantham Town chairman Darren Ashton said the club was in full support of the league’s actions.

He said: ‘’We fully support the decision made by the league on Monday. Obviously the situation is very fast moving, but the health and well-being of the players, academy, staff, volunteers and community is the number one priority at present.

“As a club, we await further information as and when it becomes available. Until that time, all we can recommend is that people follow the Government’s guidance and keep themselves safe.’’

Gingerbreads boss Martin McIntosh was in complete agreement with Mr Ashton.

McIntosh added: “The league have made the right decision by suspending fixtures for the foreseeable future.

“At the moment the best thing to do is ensure our families are safe and well, and at some point in the future when its safe to do so, we’ll be out on the pitch again.”

Harrowby United’s game at BourneTown went ahead on Saturday but the United Counties League has since “paused the league”.

UCL chairman Alan Poulain said in a website statement: “The main reasons for pausing the league is that by playing or facilitating football we are furthering social interaction, which has been recommended to be avoided, and which the playing of football would have encouraged.

“The second reason is that our clubs, many of whom are assisted by an ageing workforce, may not also have sufficient resources to continue.”

Elsewhere on the sporting scene, Kesteven Rugby Club’s season has been suspended by the RFU until April 14. And Leadenham Hockey Club’s season has fizzled out with just the odd game or two left to be played for its various teams.

Grantham Indoor Bowls Club, on Trent Road, has been closed due to the virus. Members can go in to the club to collect equipment in the mornings.

All league play has been suspended.

Some local darts leagues completed their fixtures just in time, but the Vale of Belvoir Darts League has had to postpone remaining fixtures “until further notice”.

The town’s badminton clubs have postponed training sessions and all Witham Wheelers Cycling Club activities have been suspended until the end of April, when the situation will be reviewed.

Elsewhere, Grantham Athletic Club has also suspended all forms of training and competition until the end of next month, and parkruns have reportedly been suspended nationwide.

Play is continuing, though, at local golf clubs, albeit with best practices implemented as regards health and safety.

Belton Park general manager Steve Rowley said the club was following “all available guidelines” and that the clubhouse was “just” still open.

Restrictions out on the course were being implemented as they were at Belton Woods and Stoke Rochford, with the removal of bunker rakes being just one example.

Belton Woods Pro Shop added that the club was very busy, and had even seen an upturn in activity.

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