A 140-YEAR-OLD cricket club at risk of closure over balls landing in nearby gardens plans to approach its worst-affected neighbours with a 'middle-ground' solution.

Weaverham Cricket Club (WCC), which was founded in 1883, has been playing at its Wallerscote Road home since 1887, eventually buying the land outright in 1932. 

Complaints of cricket balls damaging their neighbours' windows, cars, roofs, and greenhouses have increased in recent years, prompting the club to call a public meeting on Thursday, July 20. 

Some of the worst-affected residents want protective netting installed at the ground, but the club cannot afford the up-to-£150,000 cost quoted.  

There's also no guarantee planning permission would be granted for these permanent structures, which would be up to 18 metres high.

The club has stressed the legitimacy of its neighbours’ concerns, adding it wants to find a solution based on compromise.  

At the meeting, temporary scaffolding structures to hold 'localised' netting were proposed as a more cost-effective solution, which the club says it will discuss with its neighbours. 

WCC secretary, Ian Bridge, said: “It’s a right pickle.

“The outcome of the meeting was overwhelming support for the club to continue playing at the ground, yet the affected residents have completely and utterly valid concerns about damage to property and injury to people.

"If you’re sitting in your garden on a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine and a cricket ball lands in your cup of tea, or worse, on your head – you’re not going to be happy.

"As a club, we would be fools not to try and work with them going forward.  

“We’re hoping there’s some middle-ground allowing the club to continue, which also gives neighbours the safety they need and want on a Saturday afternoon.

“If we can think of a way of bringing in more localised safety pieces for some of the more directly affected properties, that might be a solution.

"Something like a temporary scaffolding structure near the worst-affected homes, as opposed to netting at the club, would be both more affordable for us, and would give them some peace of mind on match days, which is only Saturdays at the moment."

Ian believes the proposed solution would require the backing of the village, adding there were some very valid questions about the type of size of netting required.  

He added: "This would require a compromise in terms of aesthetics, but that's our next step.

"The meeting was also a chance for us to ask the wider community what they could do to help us, either financially, or in terms of their fundraising experience.

"Nothing concrete was provided on the night, but we’ve since been given a few leads."