Northern League bans umpires

Lancashire v Kent Women's County Championship at Blackpool Cricket Club.'Blackpool umpire Ken Shenton keeps his eye on the ball as Lancashire's Megan Fairclough pounds past. PIC BY ROB LOCK
Lancashire v Kent Women's County Championship at Blackpool Cricket Club.'Blackpool umpire Ken Shenton keeps his eye on the ball as Lancashire's Megan Fairclough pounds past. PIC BY ROB LOCK
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TWO umpires who called time on a cricket match after alleged ‘violent’ behaviour by a player have had time called on their careers in the Northern League.

In an amazing turn of events that has infuriated the local umpire fraternity, Ken Shenton and Steve Godfrey have been handed an indefinite ban from officiating in the competition in the wake of events at a stormy second XI fixture between St Annes and Preston at Vernon Road.

It is claimed the behaviour of a Preston player was so bad that at one point he had to be restrained and pinned to the floor by four players before being escorted from the field. At the height of the flashpoint, the option of calling the police was seriously considered.

His actions led to the abandonment of the match, the first such instance in the 60-year history of the Northern League.

A disciplinary hearing was convened but league officials refused to say what action, if any, had been taken against the Preston player. However, they have emailed the Northern League Cricket Umpires Federation to confirm that Shenton and Godfrey had been banned.

Now there could be a backlash against the suspension. Tommy Wilson, chairman of the Northern League Cricket Umpires Federation, said: “I am stunned.

“I will organise a meeting of our committee, and though I don’t what to pre-empt what they will decide, you can say we will not take this lying down.”

Shenton and Godfrey are two of the most experienced umpires in the game – Shenton has officiated at Minor Counties and Second XI level, while Godfrey has stood at Northern League and schools cricket.

The Vernon Road flashpoint came when it was alleged that the Preston player repeatedly refused to heed warnings about running down the wicket. It is claimed he became abusive and used threatening behaviour.

It was at this point that the umpires decided there was no alternative within the rules but to abandon the game.

Wilson said: “The umpires were thinking of ringing the police – that’s how bad it was.

“I have asked the chairman and the vice-chairman of the Northern League what decision has been taken about the Preston player but they say they cannot comment because it is private.

“I have since been told by the league that Ken and Steve should have appeared (as witnesses) at the hearing and didn’t attend.

“That may be why they have been suspended. But the fact is they were never summoned to appear at the hearing in the first place, but were invited to attend. They indicated that they would go if there was an appeal. It is a slur on these two umpires.”

Shenton declined to comment and refused to say whether he was taking legal action to fight for his reinstatement.