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Crowds to be smaller for Cup Match – if it happens

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Wellington Oval will have a smaller crowd for Cup Match this year because of restrictions (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Scaffolding, a regular feature at Cup Match in modern times, is almost certain to be missing this year as St George’s Cricket Club prepare to host a smaller crowd at Wellington Oval in exactly eight weeks’ time.

Lani Simmons rides behind the hearse carrying the casket of her father, Larry "Cocky" Steede, during a lap of honour after the funeral service for the devoted St George’s supporter last weekend at Wellington Oval (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The scaffolding would have normally long been in place by now at either Cup Match ground, but Neil Paynter, the St George’s president, admitted yesterday that the additional seating “is highly unlikely” if Cup Match goes ahead.

Paynter was due to meet with his committee last night to discuss the Annual Classic, with a meeting to follow with club members next week.

Because of the uncertainty over crowd sizes owing to government restrictions, the club is well behind in its Cup Match preparations.

“We’ve got over a year’s worth of work to do in just two months, so it’s a big task,” Paynter said. “But we’re trying to remain optimistic and we’re going to need everyone to be on board in order for this to come off. At this point we’re still 50-50 in reference to Cup Match.”

He added: “We got some more information [from the Government] and will hold a committee meeting, go through the information that we’ve been given, analyse it to see if it is feasible and then meet with our members before we make any type of decision with regards to Cup Match,.

“We’re always optimistic but we have to crunch the numbers. It is something we always want to have, but we’ll look at the information that the key stakeholders have been given and from that we’ll come to a definitive decision of whether it is on or, unfortunately, not on.”

Paynter admits the uncertainty is causing him and the club members some sleepless nights as Cup Match draws near.

“It’s been on our minds for quite some time,” he said. “We didn’t know what Cup Match would look like, as we hadn’t been given any parameters on what to work with.

“Now, we’ve been given some parameters, let’s now see if it is feasible from a financial and manpower point of view, as our members still have to go to work and still be able to help prepare for one of our biggest sporting events on the local calendar.

“The scaffolding takes time and is a great financial undertaking.”

The club hosted an important event last Saturday when the funeral of longtime member and loyal supporter Larry “Cocky” Steede was held on the field.

“He was a great supporter,” said the president, who recently suffered the loss of his father, Neil Sr, another loyal St George’s fan well known for his drum beating at Cup Match.

“Cocky was blue and blue, through and through — whether he supported the club in football or cricket.

“He will be a tremendous loss at our sporting events or club activities.”

Steede was the grandson of Cup Match great Alec “Cocky” Steede, the first bowler to take 100 wickets in the Classic.

Alec Steede claimed exactly 100 wickets between 1922 and 1951. Only Clarence Parfitt with 115 has taken more wickets in Cup Match.

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Published June 03, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated June 03, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Crowds to be smaller for Cup Match – if it happens

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