Abuse, threats and even unpleasant terms for the Welsh have sparked a local sporting authority into action
Picture: Jenny Poole
A sporting body in the Welsh Borders has had to take action after an alarming increase in drunken, abusive behaviour from fans.
Reports of spectators getting drunk and ridiculing players about their weight, threatening others, disrupting games and even referring to Welsh teams as ‘sheep shaggers’ have made headlines in the national press. But it's nothing to do with football, boxing or long, boozy days at the cricket.
The sport under fire is the normally sedate world of crown green bowls, with the Shropshire Crown Green Bowling Association (SCGBA) being forced to submit a new code of conduct to all of the county’s clubs promising tough penalties - including fines, suspensions and points deductions - for players or teams committing antisocial behaviour.
Welsh Border Life's Andy Cawthray, who is also secretary of Whittington Cricket and Bowling Club in Shropshire, says it’s important to nip the behaviour in the bud. But then he is our gardening writer!
“It's infrequent but it is becoming more evident," says Andy, "especially in the top-flight leagues and high-money competitions."
“In the main it tends to be a few individuals who overstep the mark. Banter is all part of the game and crown green is no different, but sledging players and being abusive is something that needs nipping in the bud in any sport.”
The action taken by the SCGBA was certainly warranted, thinks Andy, especially given the sportsmanship and green etiquette so associated with the game.
“I think the county decision to issue a code simply reinforces the fact that any sport is for all, and as such the behaviour of players and spectators should respect all who might be present," he adds.
Crown green bowls isn't without its history of crowd beahvioural problems, however. In 1982 The Waterloo Bowling Green in Blackpool - regarded as the Wembley of crown green bowling - witnessed another incident more commonly associated with other sports, when a streaker ran onto the green as Dennis Mercer took on and eventually beat Ken Strutt in one of the closest finals of all time. Live on TV!
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