Vandals have caused more than £1,000 of damage at a grass-roots football ground, by breaking newly-installed dugouts which had only been used three times.
Officials of Red Row Welfare have been left angry and devastated after yobs kicked in side panels of the substitutes’ benches on Tuesday evening.
The louts also targeted the nearby MUGA (multi-use games area), breaking some of the wooden boards.
The police have been informed about the incident and club representatives say they have an idea of who is responsible for the vandalism – a small group of teenage boys and girls.
The dugouts were only installed two months ago and had only been used a handful of times.
The project cost in the region of £5,500 – paid for through grant funding, including a donation from East Chevington Parish Council.
A dugout upgrade was needed as part of the club’s ambitious plans to be promoted to the Premier Division of the Northern Alliance league.
Red Row Welfare secretary, Stan Hurst, said: “I feel angry, devastated and gutted. We have tried so hard to get the ground up to standard as we try to progress as a football club – only for this to happen.
“The dugouts were ideal, but these vandals have kicked in the corrugated plastic side panels and caused around £1,200 of damage.
“They also went into the MUGA and pulled some of the wood off the side panels. They have had a bit of a blitz of vandalism.
“This sort of thing has never happened before. We have been very lucky and have improved the Welfare for the Northern Alliance; recently we received a £6,000 grant from East Chevington Parish Council for a fence around the pitch. People are very proud of the Welfare; so much so that when I wrote about the damage on Facebook, there were about 250 comments from people condemning the vandalism.”
Stan says that the club will be looking to replace the damaged side panels with heavy-duty unbreakable replacements – but this will come at a price.
The club’s annual running costs are in the region of £2,000, but Stan says that Red Row receives a lot of support from the community and sponsors.
The Northern Alliance First Division team often draws in crowds of 40 or 50 people, while a recent match against Stobswood was watched by more than 200 spectators.
Among the critical comments left on social media, Facebook users described the vandalism as shocking, disgusting and terrible, while the culprits were branded scum.
Red Row is in the ward of Coun Scott Dickinson, who is also a member of East Chevington Parish Council. He said: “Having worked in partnership with the football club, parish council and others, I’m extremely disappointed this has happened.
“I’m really disappointed to learn that it was young people not from our area; generally the young people here respect what we do for them. It’s the first major bit of vandalism we’ve had in a long time and we will be taking a tough approach.”