CHIEFS at Washington AFC have been dealt another huge blow after vandals destroyed their pitches on Christmas Eve.
And after roping in Northumbria Police, the club has turned to crowdfunding to help repair the damage and protect their grounds with a brand new fence.
The news comes just a few months after vandals first took to wrecking AFC’s pitches on Stephenson Road, charging across the green in cars and destroying hours of volunteer-led work.
Thanks to effort from helping hands, the club was back up and running within a matter of weeks. But now, it seems they could be back to square one.
On this past Thursday, Christmas Eve, AFC received reports of a vehicle driving on the wet pitches, creating large ruts in the mud.
Keen to get to work repairing the damage in time for training and matches in the New Year, officials headed down to the site on Stephenson Industrial Estate yesterday to check out the fresh vandalism.
And Washington AFC boss Gary Sykes said it came as a huge shock — for the second time in just over 12 weeks…
“There’s a lot of people who put in so much effort to get these pitches in good nick for the boys and girls, so for it to be ruined for two minutes of fun is just unbelievable,” he told Washington Way.
“For a junior club when we’ve had to do a shutdown, you try to build it back up and then you’ve got this again. We don’t know how much damage it’ll do yet, but it certainly hurts the groundsmen, the players and the community.
“The groundsmen are volunteers. They spent a lot of time over the summer working on the pitches and they put a lot of time in to get things done.
“The damage [from Christmas Eve] is worse than we thought, but the police are handling the investigation and now have video evidence.
“The club will do its best to fix the fields in time for teams to return in the New Year.”
Keen to help, Washington Deaf FC — part of the AFC umbrella — stepped in on Sunday and launched a crowdfunding campaign to help offset the costs of a new fence, which they hope will be a step closer to preventing future antics.
A statement from Deaf FC reads:
Someone who had no respect yet for our community drove a car on to the pitches and caused damage. It is absolutely shocking. We have 500+ players that use these pitches and now they are going to be out of action for a long time.
We need 300m worth of fencing to fence the many football pitches to stop this from happening again.
We at Washington Deaf FC, under Washington AFC – who helped us to get established – are asking you to donate to this fundraiser of £8000 for the fencing to ensure that that children, families and adults can enjoy football on safe secure pitches.
The clubs are also hoping to secure a grant from the Football Foundation once planning permission is approved for the fence work, with overall costs totalling approximately £33,000.
Last night, the fundraiser had reached £1770 of its £8000 goal.