DUDLEY Cricket Club are set to fold after the Newcastle City and Suburban team lost their right to use the redeveloped Charlestown Oval.

Lake Macquarie City Council has given the ground to Newcastle District club Charlestown, who will base their third- and fourth-grades sides at the oval.

HOMELESS: Dudley Cricket Club cricketers Shaun Partridge, Justin Tull and Heath Howard, at Charlestown Oval, Charlestown. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

In response, players have left Dudley in droves.

After 22 years and about 40 minor and major premierships in juniors and seniors, Dudley secretary Kevin Jarvis said the club would no longer exist.

“There’s that much uncertainty that blokes don’t know where to go, so the club will basically not have a side this year,” Jarvis said.

“They won AR1s last year and we were hoping to fill a side in A grade, but that’s well and truly gone now. We haven’t got a D grade either. We’ve got nothing.”

Dudley’s junior sides folded two years ago due to the delay in the redevelopment of Charlestown Oval.

Parents were initially forced to drive their children to Garden Suburb and Elermore Vale for matches, but most eventually joined neighbouring clubs Redhead and Charlestown.

Charlestown Oval finally opened in May 2001, 11 months behind schedule, and Dudley’s seniors played there from November last season.

Charlestown Bowling Club C&S side have also been moved off Charlestown Oval and are likely to be moved to Hunter Sports High, where Charlestown’s third and fourth grade previously played.

Tasmanian Sheffield Shield fast bowler Adam Maher is Dudley’s greatest product and he began his career at the club aged six. Maher’s father Ashley has been the club president for two decades.

“It’s very disappointing as the council seems like it doesn’t have any interest in cricket in general and seeing the game survive,” Maher said from Brisbane, where is he preparing for the start of the first-class season in a pre-season Tigers camp.

“I would have played my first 150 games of cricket with Dudley juniors and the C&S side as well. It’s getting people out of the game by forcing clubs like this to fall.”

The council said in a statement that the decision was made according to its procedure for allocating sporting fields, “which was developed to ensure local sports facilities are utilised to optimum levels and are relevant and accessible to as many residents as possible”.

Charlestown captain Steve Mace said Hunter Sports High was offered to Dudley and their players were welcome to play for the Magpies this season.

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