ANOTHER IW sports team has nowhere to play, this time for a vital championship match.
The IW Disabilities cricket team have had to switch their must-win ECB Disabilities County Championship game with Hampshire on Sunday from the IW, to a ground in Eastleigh, because there is nowhere on the IW to play.
The IW usually play their home games at Shanklin’s Westhill ground, but for this match it was already booked with another fixture — as were every other disabled-friendly ground on the IW with a grass wicket.
It has meant that, after two weeks of desperately trying to find a home ground to play on, the IW have reluctantly asked to reverse the fixture.
This means Hampshire will have crucial home advantage, and because of the summer holiday traffic, the IW have to take the 8am ferry, five hours before their match begins.
And more disappointingly, two of their players can no longer take part because of the travel element.
"We are gutted," said David Lloyd, one of the team’s longest-serving members. "It’s embarrassing to be honest, that we don’t have a home for a game like this, bearing in mind how much hard work we’ve put in over many, many years."
The IW team play in a southern league in the County Championship, and should they beat Hampshire, will be higher than both Hampshire and Surrey — established counties with far better facilities — in the table. They could go through to a semi-finals weekend in Warwickshire next month, where they will play the qualifiers from the northern section, progressing to the final in Chesterfield should they win.
The predicament suffered by the IW Disabilities side’s has been shared by other teams and sports in recent months.
GKN’s football and cricket teams are still homeless, as are many East Cowes GKN youth football teams, following the legal wrangle over GKN’s sports ground, while Ryde Saints FC and Ryde Rugby Club are on the move from Pell Lane in Ryde after the removal of changing and showering facilities.
For the IW Disabilities side, their main chance to get a home ground came a few years ago, when plans were submitted to establish a ground in Haven-street, opposite the IW Steam Railway. Havenstreet Cricket Club offered this as a permanent home for the team, providing adapted changing facilities and access to the pavilion.
However, planners refused to give permission, citing it was an area of outstanding natural beauty.
CP columnist Keith Newbery, a former Havenstreet player who supported the plans, said: "Left, right and centre there are grounds that have no-one playing on them because the local authority are closing the changing facilities.
"With Havenstreet they had an opportunity to create something worthwhile, with no demands on the public purse, and inexplicably they turned it down.
"Now that decision is coming home to roost, where a side like the IW Disabilities team, who are former national champions, have no home."