An Eden football club is crying foul after a van-driving vandal caused damage and put their playing surface out of action.
Greystoke FC officials had been on a high after a welcome return of grassroots games was confirmed as part of the Government’s lockdown lifting.
Preparations were being made for the club’s first Westmorland League home game following the resumption, on 5th December at thir home village venue which has been transformed in recent months.
But officials took to Twitter to reveal a vehicle was driven on to the pitch in darkness last Tuesday night.
A host of ugly tyre marks were gouged into the turf, and the van was initially stranded before being mysteriously recovered and removed.
“Really disappointing to see that last night some idiots have damaged our pitch and abandoned their van,” the message read.
One eyewitness spoke of seeing youths in the area, and “one of the young men was getting very irate and threw a bottle into the road at the (adjacent) car park entrance”.
And as other clubs expressed anger and sent messages of support, Greystoke chairman Karl Rinder reflected on the damage.
This came after club manager Dave Simmons had secured grants of around £10,000 to carry out improvements and purchase maintenance machinery, and devoted countless hours to its upkeep. In addition, experts including respected Carlisle United head groundsman Dave Mitchell had offered valuable advice while Dave Simmons and Karl boosted their knowledge by taking an online pitch care course.
“It’s just a mixture of being furious and frustrated, really,” said Karl.
“The pitch has previously always been wet, a pretty poor playing surface. We just decided we were going to have a real go this year.
“The lads have been down helping with the pitch pre-season, trying to get it in as good a shape as we can.
“You take all these giant strides forward and then it’s just a kick in the teeth.”
Greystoke had been due to host Kendal side Ibis Reserves next Saturday, but that match could now be switched to Penrith’s Frenchfield — incurring extra expense.
“We won’t be able to play on it a week on Saturday,” said Karl, who added that repair work had already started. “I don’t think we’ll play on it before Christmas now.”
A Cumbria police spokesman said police were aware of the incident, but could not comment further.