There was a time when amateur sportsmen would peruse their club’s fixtures and build other events in their lives around them.

Cricket, rugby union, rugby league and football - it didn’t matter which one - the game was the thing.

Weddings and holidays were planned out of season (if the future wife could be coaxed into it) and life went on as normal.

That isn’t the case these days, or for some time actually, as the sports mentioned have all suffered by varying degrees.

Weddings, holidays, stag weekends, music festivals and just simply watching live televised sport have hit clubs all across the country.

Illness and injuries, not to mention work commitments - which have been around forever - are added to the mix to present clubs with major problems.

The point was brought home forcefully at the weekend when North One West outfit Penrith had to pull out of their rugby union fixture at Wilmslow.

Unheard of! The first time in living memory! It left senior members of the club deeply embarrassed.

The problem, though, is all over the place as the number of players committed to their chosen sport has waned dramatically.

Clubs do their best to arrest the decline and prepare for the future by investing in junior and youth teams.

Sadly a good majority will fall by the wayside when they reach a certain age, beguiled by other attractions that don’t require as much commitment.

I played football and cricket for many years and rarely missed a game apart from injury.

Even on my eldest daughter’s christening, there was a car waiting at the church door to whisk me down to Curwen Park for a Sunday League game!

That was, of course, before the days when a christening sees a quarter-full church and the booze-up in a club afterwards full to the rafters.

Don’t get me wrong, we always had a great night after the cricket with a few pints, socialising with the opposition.

In fact, one of the things I miss most of all long after the bat and pads have been discarded, was the camaraderie of the dressing room and banter with the lads from the other teams.

Penrith Rugby Union Club is far from being alone in having to cry-off a fixture.

But it just underlines when a well-established and well-run club reaches such a position, who if anyone is immune from the problem.

It’s a dilemma club committees are increasingly having to face up to.

This might not have been Penrith’s main problem this time but sadly sport these days isn’t as cool as going on a week’s bender in Ibiza with your mates.

* Whitehaven are going to finish 14th and bottom of rugby league’s Championship in the coming season.

That’s according to Chris Jones, writing his ‘Club by Club’ preview in the Rugby League Express, the leading trade paper.

Haven have started pre-season with a very disappointing defeat Newcastle Thunder and a not very convincing win over Workington Town in the Ike Southward Memorial Trophy game.

Coach Gary Charlton knows it’s going to be a massive challenge stepping up from League One, to join clubs such as Bradford and York, and finishing third-bottom will represent a successful season. But Charlo and Haven have been here before. Fifth in the betting last season to win the League One title, nobody expected them to go on and top the division.

Now, having surprised many pundits last year, Haven have to do it all over again - and stay in the Championship.

It’s a free hit in some ways. Chris Jones and Co., don’t expect them to survive. So using the same mantra as last season - “we’ll show them” - Haven will again be out to prove the pundits wrong.

It might be a bit of siege mentality, but if Charlton and his coaching team of Jonty Gorley and Scott McAvoy can conjure up the same team spirit of togetherness and commitment that served them so well in 2019, they can survive.

* Lee Westwood might have been described as yesterday’s man by numerous golfing pundits. But a heart-warming win in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship over the weekend has reminded everyone that he hasn’t forgotten how to win.

That win, worth £900,000, pushed Westwood back into the world’s top-30 after he had fallen as low as 256th.

Back in October 2010, he took over from Tiger Woods as No1 in the world. It also puts him in line for an 11th Ryder Cup appearance which would equal Nick Faldo’s record in the tournament.

He will now contest all the majors and with confidence restored whose to say 2020 isn’t going to be a golden year for him.

Westwood is 46 now but said after this revival win in Abu Dhabi that the older you get, the more it means.

His first title was the Scandinavian Masters in 1996 and this latest success means he has won titles in four decades - and not many will be able to say that!