Game set and match as Lancashire sports fans plan big return

Sports-starved Lancashire folk are counting the minutes down to when they can resume their favourite pastimes again next week.

And tennis players in one Chorley village are so eager to get back to the net when the courts are allowed to open they’re planning a midnight match!

Monday is the day that outdoor sporting activities can resume as the coronavirus restrictions are slowly lifted.

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Members of Withnell Fold sports and social club have missed playing tennis so much they will be unzipping their racquets at one minute past midnight on Monday.

Sally Barnes can't wait

They simply could not wait until morning to resume their sport – so several friends will be having a post-midnight knock about.

Tennis enthusiast Sally Barnes said: “It’s been a long, dark winter without being able to play tennis due to lockdown and we’re so keen to get started again we just decided to meet as soon as we are allowed and knock a few balls over the net.

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“We’ll all be a bit rusty but by the time the sun comes up we’ll be playing like pros.”

The friends plan to bring floodlights and luminous paint to help them in their quest.

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Tennis fans from Withnell Fold sports and social club

It was on January 6 that the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

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The decision followed a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country.

March 29 sees the first significant easing of the restrictrions.

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Indoor sports including gyms and pools will remain closed for a while.

But outdoor sports enthusiasts like golfers, tennis players and bowlers can now resume their socially-distanced sports.

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For many it has been a long,bleak winter.

Members at golf clubs around the county can’t wait to get back on the fairways. Strict guidelines have been set to keep players safe, and fourballs are allowed.

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Michelle Proffitt, manager at Chorley Golf Club, said there had been great demand for tee-times from 7am on Monday.

She said: “The members are absolutely buzzing to be back – they have been away for so long. Our members have been very supportive of the club and can’t wait to get back.

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“We will have procedures in place to make sure that everyone is safe.”

Other sports may have to wait a little longer as their seasons are not set to resume.

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Preston Grasshoppers rugby club has been in use as a coronavirus vaccine centre this year. Officials are aiming to open a pop-up bar and seating area outside in April.

President Keith Brierley said: “We are intending to open up the club as soon as the rules will allow and hope that eventually we can return to normal.

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“Let’s look forward to a brighter future and start using the club again to our utmost ability as soon as possible.”

Broughton and District Club announced: “As of Monday 29th March we will be opening our tennis courts, bowling green and Petanque Pists.

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“Restrictions will be in place for all sports and we ask that you get in touch with the individual sections for more details.

The club added: “We would like to thank all those who have already rejoined, your support is very much appreciated and we can’t wait to see you back on court.”

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The new rules mean that organised outdoor football can also take place.

Lancashire FA has published on its website its updated guidance, based on the latest Government advice available, which applies to all outdoor youth and adult football.

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The FA said: “As organised sport can resume, all participants may travel to games but should avoid travel at the busiest times and routes, as well as minimising any unnecessary journeys where possible.

“All participants must follow the government’s guidance on safer travel.”