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Newmarket sporting clubs react to second Covid-19 lockdown

Newmarket Town chairman Kevin Grainger is hoping the Covid-19 lockdown – and the subsequent suspension of amateur football – will act as a ‘wake-up call’ for everyone.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to impose tighter restrictions from today until at least Wednesday, December 2 has resulted in all non-elite sport being suspended across the country for the second time this year.

It means that the Jockeys – like many other football clubs – will be without any income for the time being, but Grainger feels the intervention is necessary.

Newmarket Town will not be in action again until at least early December. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town will not be in action again until at least early December. Picture: Mark Westley

“The decision was expected and needed,” he said. “We’re allowed 300 in our ground. I believe we’ve set it up very well and it’s still hard to maintain social distancing.

“It’s horrible to say it, but for some this is deserved. We’ve got things like track and trace which some people visiting the club haven’t been doing, and others are not keeping their distance.

“It’s human nature, you get complacent. Things opened up again and some people believe they’ll not catch it.

“Hopefully this acts as a wake-up call because what was happening couldn’t continue.

“Some clubs are going to struggle – they already were with people coming through the gate. We’ll be fine for now, even without being able to hire out the pitch.”

Meanwhile, across town Newmarket Rugby Club are still digesting the news that all competitive adult leagues from tier 3 downwards have been cancelled for the 2020/21 season.

Newmarket head coach Martyn Wall
Newmarket head coach Martyn Wall

The Rugby Football Union confirmed the news late last week, leaving the Scaltback side facing up to the prospect of an 18-month gap without a league fixture.

Head coach Martyn Wall said: “It’s disappointing and I think the decision has been taken too early.

“They could have waited until February or even March, when we still would have had three or four months to get some revised league games played if the situation had improved.

“Who knows where we will be in a couple of months. There was no rush to make such a hasty decision.”

Nevertheless, Newmarket remain hopeful of getting some matches played before the 2021/22 campaign gets under way.

“We’ve got to have a break from training over the next month and then hopefully we can get back together before Christmas,” added Wall.

“After Christmas we will start working towards a return to contact rugby because the RFU mentioned this as a possibility.

“If that gets the go-ahead, we need to make sure we have built up to it properly.

“We should be able to arrange a good batch of fixtures and a knockout cup competition has also been mentioned.”

Tennis, meanwhile, will also be shut down despite guidance that people can exercise with one other person from outside of the household.

Newmarket's Tennis Club's Phil Eaves
Newmarket's Tennis Club's Phil Eaves

Like golf, the sport’s governing body continues to appeal to parliament to reverse that decision, but as it stands courts will remain empty throughout November.

For Newmarket Tennis Club committee member Phil Eaves, his major concern lies with organisation’s members.

“Financially we should be fine as a club for the next month, but it is the members I worry about,” he said.

“Our older members rely on the club for their exercise and the youngsters do as well.

“It’s the inconsistency I find most disappointing. Tennis is an outdoor sport where you can easily keep your distance, but that doesn’t seem to be factored in.

“We’ve also spent a lot of money at the club meeting all the restrictions and putting up signs. There hasn’t been a Covid case at the club but we are still shutting down.”