VANDALS targeted a grass-roots cricket club, slashing a valuable piece of equipment, causing up to £3,000 of damage.
Alnwick Cricket Club groundsman Gavin Turnbull could not believe his eyes on Saturday morning when he discovered that the cover used to protect the square had been cut in two places.
He had only put the sheet on the day before to help prepare the wicket for the first team’s league game with Seaton Burn, but when he came back less than 24 hours later, it had been damaged.
It was the first time the cover had been used this season.
Gavin, who is part of the club’s volunteer ground team, said: “They are L-shape cuts and I would say the two tears are about 2ft long by 1ft across.
“It has either been a push bike and they have skidded on it when it has been wet and the pedals have dug into it or it has been a knife.
“If it is not renewable, it will cost three grand for a new one. If we can fix it, it will cost less than that. We are insured,” he added.
Gavin has hit out at whoever is responsible for the damage.
“I am very annoyed and water did get through where it had been slashed.
“They’re just little thugs, vagabonds. They have got no respect for the area.”
The dedicated ground team had helped Alnwick become joint winner of the annual Turfcare Northumberland Ground of the Year award for 2010, sharing it with Benwell Hill.
The sheet was only serviced at the end of last season and cost £600, including £160 to transport it to and from Southampton where the work was done.
The club is hoping to find a locally-based firm to repair the cover but there are fears that it might have be done further afield.
Until then, Gavin said the sheet can still be used, but said: “If we get bad weather we can put it on but we will have to put bricks where it is torn to keep the flaps down.”
Police have said that a sharp instrument was used to cause the damage and are appealing for information about the incident, which happened between 7.30pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday.
Anyone with any information should contact them on 03456 043043 ext 69191.