Roaming gnomes keep villagers on the hop

Matt French and his cricketing gnomes SUS-170523-095738001
Matt French and his cricketing gnomes SUS-170523-095738001

A gnome which went missing from its owner’s front garden last week disappeared for a SECOND time on Sunday - along with the rest of his gnome ‘family.’

The team of cricketing gnomes have stood on the front garden of keen cricketer Matt French’s home in Barns Green every summer since Matt moved to the village four years ago.

But Matt was hit for six when one of the gnomes - an umpire called Dickie - mysteriously disappeared last week.

However, his concern quickly turned to relief when a dog walker later found Dickie - named after legendary umpire Dickie Bird - in a nearby stream and returned him to Matt.

Then in quick succession Matt’s joy again turned to exasperation when the whole team of concrete cricketers - Dickie, two batsmen, a bowler, a wicket keeper and set of wickets - vanished overnight on Saturday.

Said Matt: “I will be approaching the Parish Council to ask if they would consider having them placed on the village green permanently as they are much loved in the village and it would be a shame if I had to pack them away for good.”

But no sooner had Matt voiced his concern than his five-man gnome squad once more turned up safe and sound. Two were quickly located in nearby Emms Lane and two more were also discovered nearby. The wickets were found in one of the cricket nets at Barns Green Cricket Club by club member Chris Powell.

And it was soon established that umpire Dickie had been on a day trip to the seaside. “The person who found him was on his way to Brighton when he saw Dickie,” said Matt. “He was running late so put him in the back of his car and returned him to the garden when he got back - along with an I love Brighton T-shirt that he got whilst he was down there as a souvenir.”

Now, however, Matt is worried for the future of his cherished team - which is over 30 years old and was given to him by his mother.

“I’m concerned that they may go again and I won’t be so lucky next time so I’m considering my options as regards a safe place for them to be,” he said.