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Plea for return of cricket trophy

Jubilation: Colin Smith, the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Devil’s Hole” seen at the forefront of celebrations last summer, has made it his mission to reclaim the Eastern Counties Cup replica that was stolen from Cleveland County’s clubhouse during the holidays

Colin Smith, arguably Cleveland County’s biggest supporter, has made a passionate plea for the return of a replica of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association trophy that was stolen during a break-in at his club’s premises last week.

The Smith’s Parish resident, more commonly referred to as the “Mayor of Devil’s Hole”, has strongly urged the thieves to return the showpiece, which he says means so much to his club and community.

“I’m asking whoever stole that trophy to bring it back because it is very sentimental and it means the world to our community,” Mr Smith told The Royal Gazette. “We love that trophy and want it back.

“The theft of this trophy has the whole community very puzzled, concerned and upset. Since we won that trophy, it has gone to church and we also marched it to Devil’s Hole with the Gombeys. Everybody that marched held that trophy.”

Cleveland regained the Eastern Counties trophy for the first time in 33 years last summer after dethroning St David’s County Cricket Club in the opening round at Sea Breeze Oval. The Harris Bay club then successfully defended the trophy against Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club and Flatts Victoria Recreation Club in the remaining rounds.

“To win that trophy after 33 years and then lose it through theft really hurts,” Mr Smith added. “When we won that trophy, all the joy in the world was there. But now that joy has been snatched away from us and it really hurts.

“We haven’t even lost the trophy through a match; we lost it through theft, which is very sad. How can you break into my club to steal something that I won?”

The origins of the Eastern Counties date back to 1904, making the original cup, which is safely secured in a bank vault, one of the oldest trophies in local sport.

“That trophy has a lot of history to it,” Mr Smith said. “Tucker’s Town, which is now Cleveland County, and St David’s started that competition at a picnic — I believe at Darrell’s Oval — over potato salad and chicken. Not many people know that today.

“They [Tucker’s Town] used to row boats from Pink Beach to St David’s to go to the games in St David’s because the boats didn’t have engines back then.

“That trophy is very sentimental to the Flatts, Cleveland, Bailey’s Bay and St David’s communities, and has a great history.

“Not only was the trophy stolen from Cleveland, it was stolen from the Eastern Counties — and there is no county like the Eastern Counties and Cleveland County. We have youngsters in our community that want to play county cup so bad, so how do you think they feel about all of this?”

Police are investigating the break-in, which is believed to have occurred at Cleveland’s clubhouse on Harrington Sound Road between December 31 and January 2. It is understood that intruders gained access into the building through a window. As well as the trophy, liquor from the club’s bar was also stolen during the theft.

Keen to have the trophy returned, Mr Smith has launched his own inquiry into the matter. “As the mayor of Devil’s Hole, I am going to look for the trophy and find it,” he said. “The police are not detectives like me, I will find it.

“I have taken this matter very personal, so I have to get that trophy back.”