Uphill Castle and Shaftesbury Road ready for first ever meeting

A cricket bat and some stumps at Uphill Castle Cricket Club.

A cricket bat and some stumps at Uphill Castle Cricket Club. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Easter Sunday will see Uphill Castle take on Shaftsbury Road in the first-ever match between the two clubs in a 30-over game.

The pre-season friendly, which will begin at 1.30pm and be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, is to welcome Shaftsbury to The Castle after Uphill agreed to lend them the facilities from the 2021 season.

George Chapman has been named captain of the home side for the first time in his career, which he calls a 'great honour', while Chris Coombes skippers the visitors.

And both sides have said their teams will be a mixture of firsts, trialists as well other playing members, who will all get a chance to play.

From left to right Uphill Castle's Tom Llewellyn, George Chapman and Brad Patch

From left to right Uphill Castle's Tom Llewellyn, George Chapman and Brad Patch during last summer's match with Lympsham & Belvedere. - Credit: Archant

“I’m really excited, it’s going to be nice to play some competitive sport,” said Chapman.

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“There has been a lot of hard work going on by everyone to get the ground ready for this game and It’s going to be a nice way to kick off the season."

Shaftesbury's Jake Mawford said: “The team are full of beans for Sunday’s fixture where we cross swords with the Castle.

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“They’ve never defended the Castle when we’ve attacked in the past and we suspect history may indeed repeat itself at 6pm Sunday evening!”

Both clubs have seen the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic hit the sport hard.

The 2020 season was delayed until July and the West of England Premier League created nine groups for their 69 teams to compete in during a shortened campaign.

However, following the government's announcement in February that outdoor grassroots sport can return from March 29 in time for the start of the 2021 season, Mawford shared how his team have faced these uncertain times.

"We have quite a few players who have found the lockdowns difficult,” he added.

“There must be many young men in particular who live alone who have found the last year challenging mentally. It will be great to reconnect and blow off some steam through the form of stupendous cricket.”

And for Chapman and Mawford this weekend’s match couldn’t come at a better time.

Shaftesbury Road's Robbi Maggs and Jake Mawford

All smiles for the camera for Shaftesbury Road duo Robbi Maggs and Jake Mawford - Credit: Archant

“It means a lot, it really does. It’s the biggest season for club cricket to date. And we intend to make the most of it,” Mawford said.

“We have 50 fixtures booked in and funnily enough I had a message from one of the ladies of Shaftesbury this morning (Tueday) requesting if we could hit 60.

“Never has there been such an obvious opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. I just hope people don’t take it for granted because we’ve all had to make sacrifices to this point.”

Chapman added: “It’s always great to have a good quality, local game. We’ve got some good sides in Weston but Shaftsbury Road have done a lot over the last few years, they have really grown and are a really strong side.

“It will be a really interesting test for us and hopefully we will able to welcome them and play against them a few more times.”

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