A groundsman at Were Di Tilburg was shocked to discover 13 ponies on the pitch as he turned up for his morning’s worked.

The highly unusual sight of the four-legged animals were discovered on the outfield on Friday morning with the gates locked – suggesting that it was a deliberate act – before the police were called.

According to hockey.nl, club chair Fabienne van Engelen received a message saying: “We have thirteen new four-legged members. I just think they can’t play hockey very well and they aren’t that fast either.

“We gave them buckets of water. And some food to lure them. The ponies looked good and were tame.”

It was only when the men in blue turned up was it realised that the ponies had been temporarily put on the pitch by the police themselves after they had been spotted roaming the streets the previous night.

The ponies had been lost for two days once the owner had been located.