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Anger After Mower Theft

Anger After Mower Theft: Steve Kenny, chairman of Whalley Junior Football Club, is angry after thieves broke the lock of a container and stole a Craftsman mower worth £2k on September 18.

The club have two large pitches, and three smaller-sided pitches to cater for matches for their age-groups from

Anger After Mower Theft

Mr Kenny said: “It is gutting and frustrating as we put a lot of effort into fundraising events a few years ago.

“We have to mow our fields as part of the agreement with the parish council to use the facility.

“Our groundsman Dave Leeming rang me to tell me about it and you could tell how gutted he was in his voice when he told us.

“We have a lot of volunteers and we are doing it for the community and then you get people doing this.

“It is a huge area to cut and we have paid to get a new yellow deck on the side of it to cut the grass which makes it distinctive.

“We have been asking people locally if they have any CCTV of vehicles in the area to see if we can identify who stole it.

“It is a real shame because it is for the community as other organisations and families use the pitches too. If we don’t maintain it, then it will be overgrown.”

Steve has been amazed by the response of the community since the news broke.

He said: “One of our neighbours has contacted us to say that we can borrow their sit-on mower if we needed it.

“We have also set up a Crowdfunding page to try to raise money for a new one.

“So far we have managed to get £920 and we have been taken aback by the support in such a short space of time.

“We are hoping to get our target of £2k to get another mower.”

Groundsman Dave Leeming said: “I turned up and the container was open.

“I rang up to see if anyone had left it like that and then I saw the mower was missing.

“It was heartbreaking when I saw the lock has been forced open.

“I have been going down two or three times a week and put a lot of time into getting the pitches looking good and you just cannot do your job.”

Sgt Stuart Banks, from the Neighbourhood team in Ribble Valley, said: “This crime is going to have a massive effect on a football club and they are suffering a significant loss to mow their pitches.

“We are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area to report it to us.

“Another vehicle would have been needed to take it away from there so we need the public to help by calling 101 and using the crime reference number of 20180918-0781.”

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Club’s Anger Over Pitch Damage

Club’s Anger Over Pitch Damage: A council “must be held responsible” after race cars drove over a brand new football pitch costing thousands of pounds, an Irish League club has said.

Ballymena United said it was “saddened” at the incident during a stock car race at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday.

Club's Anger Over Pitch Damage

The venue is owned by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which recently laid a new pitch after a major investment.

It said it was “deeply disappointed” by the incident.

The council spokesman said that “measures put in place to protect the new surface were inadequate” and that remedial work was being carried out on the pitch on Saturday.

The incident happened during a Ballymena Raceway stock car event on Friday night. The council leases the stadium to both the football club and Ballymena Raceway.

Ballymena United’s vice-chairman Don Stirling told BBC News NI that “stock cars have every right to be there” but the two sports are “just not compatible”.

“I honestly don’t know what the solution is, but the council have to be held responsible,” he said.

“They can’t keep cars off the pitch because if they veer off the track they have nowhere to go.

“They put down truck tyres (on Friday night) but they would have need massive tractor tyres to stop cars coming on the pitch.”

Mr Stirling said the new pitch had cost £250,000 and that the club had agreed to postpone any home games until 6 October so the new pitch could bed in.

“They’ve spent over £250,000 of ratepayers’ money on it, there’s a new sprinkler system as well. They can’t have cars driving over it.

“Ballymena United have one of the best facilities in Northern Ireland outside of Windsor Park – we just don’t have the bit in the middle you play on.

“In the past, referees have come close to calling off matches because there are tracks all over the pitch. Even oil spills.”

Tension between the stock car races and football club previously emerged in January, when Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey accused race organisers of a lack of respect after the pitch was damaged during a New Year’s Day event.

However, Aubrey Arbuthnot, who runs Ballymena Raceway, told BBC News NI he was “fed up” with criticism directed at the race events and that he had done as much as he could to keep cars off the pitch.

“All I want is fair play. I’m a ratepayer, not like some of the people sounding off in the press,” he said.

“We had 12 races last night. These cars race door handle to door handle. There’s up to 60 cars racing. Only two cars went off the track in separate incidents.”

Mr Arbuthnot said the council had organised and placed about 70 tyres around the track and around sprinkler heads and that he had insisted no personnel go on the pitch.

“Usually I have a clerk of the course and two photographers on the pitch. I didn’t even have a fire extinguisher on the pitch.

“I laid down the law to the drivers about what would happen if they went on the pitch. The driver who went off, he was spun off by someone else – he’s completely innocent.

“If I had found out who put him off, I would have put him out the gate. That’s how seriously I’ve been taking it.

“But it’s our first night back in and they’re hammering us.”

He added that he was unable to organise race meetings for three months during the racing season because of work going on at the Showgrounds.

“That’s a number of meetings I couldn’t hold. That’s a loss of revenue.

“Our season runs from about Easter to the first weekend of October. There’s only about five meetings that clash with the football season. That’s all. They just don’t want a stockcar around the place.”

‘Matter of urgency’

He added: “I’ve seen comments that I had been offered an alternative venue. That’s nonsense. You think I would have turned that down? If the council offered me another venue, I’d be out tomorrow.”

A spokesperson for the council: “We are deeply disappointed by last night’s incident and fully appreciate and understand the frustration around this.

“Ballymena Showgrounds is a multi-use facility, enjoyed by a wide range of local sporting organisations.

“The measures put in place to protect the new surface at the venue were inadequate for last night’s event.

“Remedial works are being carried out on the pitch today.

“As the owners of the venue, we are fully committed to doing all that we can to safeguard the new pitch, and we are considering a range of measures to minimise the risk of damage to the surface as a matter of urgency.”

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Brechin Pitch Vandalism Anger

Brechin Pitch Vandalism Anger: Vandals have targeted an all-weather football pitch in Brechin, ruining the good work of local volunteers.

The fence around the the synthetic pitch and enclosure at the town’s Inch Park was cut open and a set of goalposts were torn down.

Brechin Pitch Vandalism Anger

The attack comes after the Inch Maintenance and Preservation Society (Imps) took over caring for the site in September and raised £5,000 to bring it back up to standard.

The vandalism that happened in Brechin.Members of the community and local businesses got involved in the campaign and helped get the football ground back in shape with the help of Angus Council.

It is one of a series of environmental projects across the town which the group has taken on.

Imps chairman George Garden said members were disheartened and frustrated by the weekend attack.

“There was a lot of community backing and we are disappointed that the park has been the subject of vandalism,” he said.

“It’s extremely disheartening because there was a lot of hard work undertaken and it really knocks you back – it’s incredibly frustrating.”

The pitch is rented out to local clubs most week nights and opens for community use at the weekends.

Mr Garden said the public had access from Saturday morning until Monday morning so there was no need for anyone to cut the fence to get inside.

The charity has also recently taken over ownership of the public toilets at Inch Park and has been working on bringing them up to scratch so they can be re-opened.

However, Mr Garden said the vandalism at the synthetic pitch had left him questioning whether it was worth going ahead with the plan in case the toilets are targeted too.

The Imps group was created following a successful effort to bring Brechin’s paddling pool back into use after it was set to close due to high maintenance costs.

North Angus and Mearns SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon said the damage at the astro pitch was extremely disappointing.

“Imps are a hugely active community group who have done a tremendous amount of work in the past few years to fundraise and carry out improvements to facilities in and around the Inch Park area in Brechin,” she said.

“They also took on the toilets and paddling pool and I know they have ambitions to do even more for Brechin so I desperately hope they don’t become disheartened by this appalling incident.

“Vandalism is a mindless and selfish act and it’s appalling to see an act like this happen when so much work has been done by the community to keep these facilities going.”

Police are appealing for information on the incident. Anyone with information is urged to call 101 or speak to any officer.

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Club’s Anger At Pitch Vandalism

Club’s Anger At Pitch Vandalism: The manager of an award-winning junior football team due to be visited by Real Madrid’s Youth Academy has spoken of his club’s frustration at constant vandalism to its pitches.

He spoke out following an announcement by police that one of the drivers who allegedly damaged the pitch has been reported for their act of vandalism.

Club's Anger At Pitch Vandalism

The pitches, at the junction of Woodhead Road and Summerville Road in Lidget Green, have been plagued by vandals riding quad bikes, motorbikes and now 4×4 vehicles for at least the past five years, said Alpha United Juniors manager Mohammed Waheed.

Mr Waheed welcomed the work by the police being done to tackle anti-social behaviour on the fields, but said more action was necessary.

He said: “It’s been a huge problem for the club when you have this behaviour from people on quads, bikes and now cars.

“They create deep grooves and must be doing various manoeuvres when they are on the pitches.

“It is making us cancel matches and training and had to report it to the league to explain why we were cancelling so many games.

“Ultimately it affects the children who just want to play and takes it away from them, and makes us question if we can run a club in the area.

“It is not a great advert for the area and as a double national award-winning club it does not help when this is happening.

“The risk of getting injured is so much higher and opposition clubs do not want to risk playing on the pitch.

“We have Real Madrid’s Youth Academy Clinic coming next week too, to do sessions for the children.”

Mr Waheed said the club had been pushing for obstacles to be put in to stop vandals getting on the pitches.

“We have been asking for barriers to be put up around the pitch and to cut off the exit points to try and stop people getting on,” he continued.

“We have been reporting these problems for at least five years, and local residents have told us it has been going on for longer.

“Something needs to be done about it, we have had backing from the West Riding FA for barriers, they recognise the work we do in the community and want to help.”

Mr Waheed thanked police for catching one of the suspects who had damaged the pitches.

Officers in Bradford West identified the driver of a Mitsubishi Shogun, who had been seen driving across the pitch, thanks to help from members of the public.

The driver has been reported for inconsiderate driving in a public place.

A Facebook post from Bradford West NPT said: “Anti-social use of this particular field is being closely monitored by the ASB bike team who are in direct communication with residents.

“Vehicles are for roads, not football pitches!”

Mr Waheed added: “It’s good to see action being taken and more patrols from the Anti-Social Behaviour team being carried out, but more still needs to be done to catch the people responsible for this.”

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