AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley calls for season extension while Sudbury Rugby Club chairman hopes for community to turn to them after restrictions lifted
The Sudbury area’s sports clubs are hoping their second coronavirus-enforced hibernation in eight months is as short lived as it has been sold – but there are certainly rising fears it may not be.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Saturday evening confirmed a second national month-long lockdown will start today and will require sports and leisure facilities to shut down again.
Despite a strong lobby from England Golf and the Lawn Tennis Association to keep their socially-distanced sports running, both failed meaning Newton Green GC and Stoke-by-Nayland GC will have to make do with walks without sticks while Sudbury Tennis Club members are also left kicking their heels.
But for the area's anglers, yesterday brought news that they are permitted to carry on enjoying their hobby - see The Angling Trust's latest guidance here .
On the football field, AFC Sudbury were able to play their scheduled home game with Heybridge Swifts in front of a crowd last night ahead of the restrictions kicking in a few hours after.
Ben Hunter had put the Yellows ahead in the 71st minute in front of a crowd of 252 but a last minute equaliser from Joe Debell denied them all three points in a 1-1 draw.
Ahead of the game, with his side having risen to third place in the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division following an upturn in form (moving up to second after last night), manager Mark Morsley said there was a reluctant acceptance that it had to be done.
“Clearly it is a disappointment,” he said. “If you are looking at it from the point of view as a team and as a club it is a shame as we have had a few decent results.
“But if you look at what is going on in the world it was inevitable.
“As frustrating as it is it is just something we have got to run with.
“Hopefully everyone behaves themselves to get the numbers down and then we can come back in December.”
But asked if he thought it was likely they would be back playing before Christmas, he replied: “No, I do not think there is a chance in hell that will happen.
“If it is a month our next game would be on Saturday, December 5 at Maldon (& Tiptree).
“We could have a training session on the Thursday and just about get away with it, but I don’t think we will start straight away as clubs will say they need to get players back training.
“It could be six weeks as a minimum and I just do not see it (before Christmas).”
With the Yellows set to have to play catch up with at least five matches, including the already re-arranged home derby with Bury Town, he said he would be calling for the season to be extended beyond May 8.
“Clearly they would have to extend the season but my guess is they will cram in two to three games a week.”
Meanwhile, Sudbury, Hadleigh and Halstead Rugby Clubs were hit with the news on Friday, ahead of the lockdown plan, that there will be no attempt to start the 2020/21 season as previously planned.
The RFU statement, which applied to all but the top two tiers of the game, said: “We believe that, even if a return to full contact rugby becomes possible, playing a meaningful competitive league season resulting in promotion and relegation is no longer feasible.”
Sudbury chairman Llyod Felton said it did not come as a surprise but is keen for adaptations to the 15-a-side game to be made to get some meaningful action started again.
“My view is if the mountain will not come to Mohammed we have to go to the mountain,” he said.
“We have to change some of the rules to allow competitive rugby to take place.”
Of the lockdown, he added: “It is disappointing for the club as we have done a lot to get it open and running again.
“But we are hoping once we come out of the other side people will see us as a place where they can gain some exercise and socialise in an environment that is friendly and hopefully we will come out of this with even more members.”
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