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Sport brought to a shuddering halt

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'We have to sit it out for another month, but it is for the good of everyone, not just a few'

Local sport has again been brought to an abrupt halt as the second lockdown of 2020 is introduced.

The 2019/20 season in virtually all sports was curtailed when the coronavirus first reared its head back in March.

And now, just as several leagues had got back into full swing and others were preparing to resume, we are back to square one as all non-elite sport has been suspended until at least December 2.

National League South Hungerford Town – who are in the same ‘elite’ category as the Premier League and EFL – can continue to play matches, albeit behind closed doors.

Racing can also continue without spectators.

But football from the Southern League downwards has been put on hold.

Newbury & Thatcham’s hockey players will have to sit it out for another month, while the Newbury Netball League, which last week announced plans for three weeks of friendly matches this month before a resumption of the league in January, has also had to cancel those plans.

And Newbury Blues and other local rugby clubs will have to wait even longer until they can get back to competitive action.
Under the restrictions, gyms and pools, must close, along with indoor and outdoor leisure centres.

Both golf and tennis are trying to make a case for both to still be permitted outdoors between two individuals from different households in line with restrictions on exercise.

It’s all very frustrating – but sport is a relatively small concern compared to the health of the nation.

Newbury hockey club’s first-team coach Nick Barrett said: “We have to sit it out for another month, but it is for the good of everyone, not just a few.

“We have just got to stand together and see it through.”

Thatcham Town FC manager Jamie Leacock said: “It is hard because it is all out of our control.

“We had just started to get some belief and form in the group and now we have at least four weeks without a game.

“But the important thing is the welfare of the players and we will deal with it.

“Everyone is in the same boat, so no one is gaining any advantage.

“We still have 30 league games to play in a short space of time and after Christmas is generally when the bad weather can affect fixtures.

“The people I really feel sorry for are those at the club who have done so much work behind the scenes to keep the club going during these difficult times.”

A statement from Newbury Netball League chair Polly Smith said: “After all the hard work the committee had set up for the league to start playing netball, be it friendlies to start with, this has now been scuppered with the second lockdown coming into force.

“Safety is our first order of the day for all of you and so perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as I know many of you were a bit nervous about playing, but still wanted to give it a go.

“The committee will be having a Zoom meeting after the second lockdown is completed and will discuss what our next plan of action is and advise you all accordingly.”

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