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A terrible tragedy – in the name of entertainment

09:16 29 November 2014

Flags fly at half-mast at the Sydney Cricket Ground following the death of Australian cricket player Phil Hughes.

Flags fly at half-mast at the Sydney Cricket Ground following the death of Australian cricket player Phil Hughes.

The shock waves are still being felt in the world of sport, not just cricket, at the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes.

The Australian, pictured, was hit on the head by a ball during a match, and never recovered.

The type of playing incident that happens all the time. Often leaves a nasty bump. This time, it has left a reminder that whilst we may slate, sledge and insult some of our sporting stars – however bright or dim they may shine – they are only human.

Tragedy can strike at any time. The confusion in the aftermath is that it comes from participation in a game. Entertainment for people who pay money to have a smile put on their faces. It isn’t supposed to hurt, but pain of varying degrees has become an inevitable side-effect.

It is said far too many times that such occurrences “put everything into context”. They don’t really, though, do they? Sport and tragedy should never be on the same fault line. There should be no such thing as tragedy in sport.

A tragedy in sport should be the mindless fool who only watches Grands Prix in case there is a crash.

Sport and real tragedy shouldn’t go hand in hand, but they do, because sport doesn’t get any favours.

What happened to Phillip Hughes does prove that whatever you do, there is danger. Hughes was turning his head as he attempted to hook a fast-paced delivery.

The ball hit a place where his protective helmet doesn’t reach.

Many sports which should be safe have similar stories. Bolton’s Patrice Muamba almost lost his life when he suffered a heart attack during a game of football – mercifully, medics helped save his life. Most vividly perhaps was the loss of F1 star Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Sport is littered with deaths and injury. There is a risk in almost all recreation: watch a rugby match and put yourself in the place of the bruising forward at the bottom of a heap of players, boots and arms and legs flying everywhere. Could you do that?

Or hurtle down a wall of ice at 60mph? Or sit on a horse jumping an eight-foot fence, with many others for company.

There is an element of risk in almost every sport, some more than others.

But we are not prepared for the very worst to happen, because we are not used to it. And it is alien to us.

Which is why the world grieves for Phillip Hughes.

A man who was entertaining us, but, so sadly, lost his life in doing so.

There is a nice new stand at Peterborough’s London Road ground which has replaced the old Moy’s End.

While it is good to see the ground getting much-needed refurbishment, it’s sad that another away end has disappeared.

Visiting fans who stood in the Moy’s End will now be housed at the end of the old main stand.

It means, on a good day, Posh fans can cheer on their team from both ends, although I tip they will struggle to fill the 2,600 capacity Motorpoint Stand – and at what is now not London Road but, the ABAX Stadium, thanks to a sponsorship deal.

While I understand the need to make money through sponsorship, it seems better to have a visiting end, but I suppose as grounds have lost standing areas to seating, then another tradition is easily dispensed with.

Our brilliant angling writer, John Bailey, struck a noisy chord in his EDP column this week.

“Many older fishermen will agree with me that the tackle shops of our younger days moulded us into the anglers we have become,” he wrote.

Growing up in the fens, it was impossible to resist the lure of the drains; unattractive, maybe, but packed with fish at the time.

Ten pence worth of maggots were dispensed by well-known Wisbechian Mr George Clare – and if you forgot your bait tin he would put them in a brown paper bag.

His shop was on the corner of Hill Street and Union Street – coincidentally overlooked by the offices of the Wisbech Standard, my first place of employment.

Immediately around the corner on Hill Street was George Clare’s barber’s shop. George cut hair in one and nipped through a doorway to sell maggots in the other.

I always bought my bait there, but he never cut my hair...

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