CUP HANDED TO TUTBURY
Written byREX PAGE
Only days after announcing the final would be held over until next year because of a fixture clash, the 109-year-old trophy has been handed to The Mill team without a ball being bowled.
The decision immediately brought an angry backlash from Draycott & Hanbury, who should have played Tutbury in Sunday's final but will be otherwise engaged in the quarter-finals of the National Village Cricket Championship.
Attempts to find an alternative date for the Breweries Cup final before the end of this season were unsuccessful, leaving the local cricket fraternity bitterly divided.
On Monday, the Burton Breweries Cricket Association (BBCA) announced the final would be put back until May 9 next year.
But the BBCA today issued a statement that effectively gave the cup to Tutbury.
The statement said: "Two or our members asked for a full committee meeting to discuss the ongoing problems the BBCA were experiencing with this year's final.
"The decision to play the 2003 final next year was rescinded and the chairman (Roger Deacon) made another attempt to rescue this year's final.
"A plea was made to Draycott & Hanbury to field a team this Sunday. This proved to no avail and they then conceded the match."
D&H have repeatedly said they would not "demean" the status of the competition by sending their second team to the final and that a previous offer to withdraw from the final had been rejected by the organisers.
Club spokesman Dave Walker said today: "We are appalled at the way the whole business has been handled.
"As a club, we always try to do things correctly, which is presumably why the BBCA had asked us stage next year's final, but this has been a total farce that has made local cricket a laughing stock."
Walker said he would call a meeting of club officials and players and warned they could take drastic action.
He said: "I would not rule out the possibility of us withdrawing from next year's Breweries Cup and looking for alternative competitions to play in."
Matt McGibbon, skipper of cup holders Tutbury, said: "I don't think the organisers were ever going to find a satisfactory solution to the problem.
"The notion of playing the final next year was crazy anyway.
"It's such a shame because the final would have been an absolute cracker between the best two teams in the Burton League."
Ironically, the teams meet on Saturday at D&H's Knightsfield Road ground in what will effectively be the Premier Division title decider.
McGibbon said: "I think it's fair to say the events of the last few days will make Saturday's game very interesting."
On Sunday, D&H are at home to Worcestershire side Astwood Bank in the Village Cricket Championship.
Tutbury, meanwhile, will play an 'alternative final' against a Burton League select XI under Breweries Cup rules at Burton CC's Meadow Road ground.
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