Police called in to free trapped umpire

AN umpire needed police and military help to get free after finding himself locked in the changing rooms of a leading north Essex hockey club.Tony Goulding, who has more than 30 years umpiring experience, told how he had umpired a home cup match at Colchester Hockey Club before discovering he had been locked in the dressing rooms by club staff.

AN umpire needed police and military help to get free after finding himself locked in the changing rooms of a leading north Essex hockey club.

Tony Goulding, who has more than 30 years umpiring experience, told how he had umpired a home cup match at Colchester Hockey Club before discovering he had been locked in the dressing rooms by club staff.

The club, which lost that day 2-1 to Tulse Hill and Dulwich, has unreservedly apologised to Mr Goulding for the mistake - which happened after the person responsible for locking up the club's grounds in the Garrison believed the site was empty.

The club also apologised for the stress caused to Mr Goulding who, after escaping from the dressing room, found the main gates padlocked and the building surrounded on all sides by a 12-foot high security fence.


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And he yesterday vowed that if he ever returned to Colchester, he would make sure he was the first to leave the clubhouse.

The umpire said he was annoyed at the time of the incident, which happened on December 11, but added he could now see the lighter side.

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Mr Goulding, who is a member of the East Region Hockey Umpires Association, told how he would have spent the night in the club's compound if it were not for his mobile telephone.

He said: “I could not get out of the dressing rooms because I had been locked in.

“In the end I had to use the emergency exit. But then I made my way to the main gates and found they were padlocked.

“So I walked around the perimeter of the of the building trying to find a way out but, being in the Garrison, it had a 12 foot fence all around it and very secure.

“That was about 40 minutes after I first realised I had been locked in. In the end I telephoned the police and the operator was quite kind though she had a bit of a giggle.

“The police contacted the military and sent a car around to let me out.

“I was just grateful to get out and I was very lucky that I had my mobile telephone. If I did not have that phone I would have had to spend the night there - and it was a cold night.

“I have been umpiring for 30 years and this type of thing has never happened to me before. I don't think it will stop me from going to Colchester again but I will make sure that I'm always the first one out.

“I was annoyed but when I had calmed down I could see the funny side of it.”

Rosemary Prince, liaison officer at the club, said: “It is embarrassing and we have apologised to the umpire concerned and the East Region Hockey Umpires Association.”

She added that the chances of such an incident happening at the club again were now lower than anywhere else because the club would be checking and double checking from now on.

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