TIME has caught up with South Newton, who have been forced to pull out of the Hampshire Cricket League one month from the start of the new season.

The 100 or more year old club, whose ground is nestled alongside the River Wylye five miles outside of Salisbury on the A36, have struggled to field sides for the past three or four seasons.

Age has now caught up on many of their players, so much so they no longer have sufficient manpower to continue.

The demise of South Newton, who had been due to play in County Division 3 North alongside Dinton and South Wilts III this summer, has been particularly poignant on secretary Tim Moulding, whose family has been involved with the club for four generations.

He explained: “The core of the club, including myself, are approaching 50 years of age or over.

“There are very few keen and committed youngsters to ease the transition to the next generation, as it did between my father’s generation and myself 30 years ago or so.

“Sadly, none of this core have had the time to devote to developing a youth section and barely enough time to keep the club running.

“While a few of us have sons eligible to play, boarding school term commitments and the lure of better opportunities at South Wilts have denied us this succession.

“We have struggled on for the past 3 or 4 years in the hope that a new charge of young players will arrive with the enthusiasm (and time) to put the necessary effort in to boost the club. Sadly, this has not happened.”

Hampshire League chairman Denis Emery confirmed that South Newton would not be replaced in CD3 North, which will now operate with 17 clubs.

“Teams will simply have a blank Saturday when it is (or was) their turn to play South Newton,” he explained.

“It’s terribly sad to see a long-standing club like South Newton withdraw, but it’s the sign of the times, with less people playing cricket.”

South Newton are still hoping to continue a T20 team in the Salisbury & District Midweek League on Tuesday evenings, so cricket may still be played at the ground.

Ironically, South Newton’s withdrawal from the Hampshire League coincides with the demise this season of the remaining men's football team.

“These are sad times indeed for village sport,” Moulding reflected.

“I just don’t know where grassroots local sport will be in ten years’ time?"