Skipper says sorry as he faces five-match ban

Chris Dewhirst has apologised for the incident

Chris Dewhirst has apologised for the incident

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Walsden’s title-winning skipper Chris Dewhirst will miss the first five matches of next season after a picture of him with a burning rival side’s shirt was posted on Twitter.

Central Lancashire League officials decided on Tuesday evening at Middleton CC that the Scott Street club’s suggested punishment for the player was appropriate.

They added a two-game suspended ban, which will not apply if he stays out of trouble until the end of next season.

The picture of Dewhirst and the burning Heywood CC shirt, which was quickly removed from Twitter, was taken on a “third party’s” phone and Dewhirst says it was sent to Heywood via Twitter against his and the club’s wishes.

It followed friction between the sides over a fixture which failed to take place near the end of the season.

Heywood, who had beaten Walsden in a rain-hit Wood Cup final at their Crimble ground in August, got permission from the league to play Northern away in the LCB Cup semi-final on a date when they had been due to play Dewhirst’s men in the league.

Efforts to find a suitable alternative date for the league match failed and Heywood, who lost to Northern, conceded the league match.

The points awarded to Walsden confirmed them as champions, although they were virtually certain to follow up their 2012 title win.

Dewhirst admitted on Twitter that drink had played a part in his actions but that was no excuse.

He said yesterday: “I did not intend to cause offence and I truly regret my actions. I have apologised to Heywood CC, my club and the league.

“The incident has been dealt with and I have been punished accordingly. The matter is now closed.

“There is no issue between me and Heywood CC or between Walsden CC and Heywood CC.”

Heywood appear to have accepted Dewhirst’s apology. A writer on their club Twitter account said: “Cheers pal. It was a bit extreme - like Turkish football or something.”