August 8, 2008

Ireland

Music concert leaves Ulster club homeless

Martin Williamson





The destroyed outfield at Dungannon Park © Dungannon CC
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A club in Ulster have had their entire season wiped out because of a music festival which left their ground at Dungannon Park unusable.

Dungannon CC use a council-owned pitch, and last weekend the local authority agreed to the staging of UTV CountryFest, attracting almost 10,000 spectators. But heavy rain had left the outfield sodden, and lorries used to construct the various stages to host the bands churned up the outfield and left it an unusable mudbath.

The concert organisers did erect fencing round the square, but for access to the stage area they drove over the outfield. “It looks like a ploughed field with an oasis of the square in the middle,” a club official told Cricinfo. “It didn’t take a lot … a car would have done considerable damage but they were using lorries.”

Dungannon now face having to forfeit their remaining home games which will almost certainly mean them being relegated from the Northern Cricket Union league. More worrying is that the outfield is in such a bad state that it needs leveling and then reseeding. Club officials fear that even if this work is undertaken now the ground might still not be ready for the start of next season.

Dungannon is a close-knit club and hope that they will not lose players because of their inability to play at home, but it has tarnished their 60th anniversary celebrations.

Dungannon Council said that all remedial work to the area was part of the contract with the organisers of CountryFest and that they would endeavour "to ensure that this work is carried out as swiftly and efficiently as possible".

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by freddy on (August 12, 2008, 22:27 GMT)

This is heartbreaking for dedicated members of a small club which for years has fought to survive and has offered opportunities to some of us who try to make up in enthusiasm what we lack in talent. We play a minority sport but since moving to this location have rarely played a match without casual passers by stopping to watch for a while on a Summer afternoon. We need the support of the NCU and ICU because the leagues in which we play need our presence. Come on UTV put some pressure on the event organisers, this is just not cricket.

Posted by The Burr on (August 11, 2008, 13:09 GMT)

The question should be asked of the council, what was wrong with the perfectly good road on one side of the pitch. Hopefully the outfield surface and drainage will be reinstated to it's previous state and the Council can learn from this mistake and when planning any future events. Shifting responsibility on to the event organisers to "leave the area in the same state as it was given to them" is not a sustainable approach to management of an event like this.

Posted by Anne on (August 11, 2008, 11:40 GMT)

I agree with Ronnie Charles. I also think that Dungannon Council should never have permitted the cricket ground to be used for such a ghastly purpose. Haven't they heard of the mudbaths at Glastonbury? The country fest could have been held in a field out of town - there are plenty of them. It is hard enough to engender enthusiasm for cricket in Northern Ireland without rendering a ground unusable and causing matches to be cancelled. This would not be allowed in England. I do not even think the concerts at Stormont were anywhere near the cricket ground. It is indeed a disgrace, whatever way you look at it.

Posted by Ronnie Charles on (August 11, 2008, 8:08 GMT)

This is a discrace. The Dungannon club must be supported by the NCU.& ICU.The 08 section 3 league results should be declared null and void and the same teams play in this league in 09. Cricket west of the Bann must be supported and a club like Dungannon which has made good progress despite not having full control of it's ground,should not be penalised because of a situation which is not under their control.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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