Frustrated football coach fed up of 'never-ending battle' after vandals churn up community pitch

A youth football team coach has been left "disgusted and heartbroken" after callous motorcyclists ripped up a Burnley community pitch.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:28 pm
Queen Street recreation ground after motorcyclists churned up the turf

Michael Sparkes, who manages Briercliffe Community FC Under 8s, said it was difficult to see how they could financially carry on running clubs if this continued.

The incident is believed to have happened on Monday evening when a group of youths, some on motorbikes, were seen descending on Queen Street recreation ground.

The vandals have then gone on to ride their bikes up and down the turf, churning up two of the three pitches, leaving them unplayable.

It comes just two months after the club, who also run an Under 7s team and an academy for children aged between three and six, were awarded a £2,500 pitch preparation grant to help them get ready for their return to action three weeks ago.

"It's such a shame, " said Michael. "We used that funding to get the pitches ready and then this happens. We don't know what the cost is going to be, but how much money can you carry on throwing at something before it's no longer financially viable? We can't even use the clubhouse because that was targeted by arsonists a while back.

"Our chairwoman, Louise Haines, who is terminally ill, has been having to deal with this from her hospital bed. She has put so much time and effort into getting these teams up-and-running for all the children; a lot of people have. It's just soul-destroying.

"Louise has contacted the police and we have a crime number. Hopefully, they will do something but we will have to wait and see."

Michael said he had no issues with groups of youths getting together, but wanted to know if parents knew exactly what their children were up to.

"We know children are going to get together and congregate in certain areas. What I would say is that it can be quite intimidating for the younger children down there when they see and hear these big groups 'effing and jeffing' and things like that.

"Do the parents know exactly what their children are up to? These pitches are for local kids, for the local community use. These kids have been waiting months to get back out doing what they enjoy. It's not right."