Football club tackles vandalism problem

By Dave GooderhamA FOOTBALL club has defended a decision to close their gates to the public – after their ground became a haven for under-age drinking and vandalism.

By Dave Gooderham

A FOOTBALL club has defended a decision to close their gates to the public - after their ground became a haven for under-age drinking and vandalism.

Bosses at Haverhill Rovers said they had no choice but to lock the entrance to their Hamlet Croft ground, stopping youngsters from playing football on their training pitch on days when the club was not training or playing.

The decision came after a spate of vandalism at the club, who play in the Ridgeons League First Division, as youths congregated there late at night.


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Committee member, Ray Esdale, said: "It is sad that we had to make this decision, but the club felt we had no choice.

"We were quite happy to let youngsters play on the training pitches and we saw it as a way of keeping kids off the streets.

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"But we had groups gathering and playing around and the troubles soon escalated. It is not so much the financial damage they have caused, but it is the inconvenience of all the problems.

"It is a nice place to play football, in smashing surroundings, but the club felt we had no choice but to lock up the gates."

Mr Esdale said the police had become involved after a series of problems last season, many happening just days after general improvements were made to the ground by a group of dedicated volunteers.

"Many of the improvements were necessary as a result of increasing vandalism and senseless damage, no doubt caused by 'visitors' to the ground when Rovers weren't using it," he added.

"It has caused the club to rethink its open policy of allowing free use of the training area for people who want a kick about. Last season saw two confirmed break-ins, one attempted break-in and the theft of a goal net.

"In a move reflecting that of the town's cricket club recently, the club has reluctantly decided that no unauthorised visitors will be allowed inside the Hamlet Croft premises. The Croft will also be visited by club officials and the police more frequently."

Last month Haverhill Cricket Club announced they would be closing off their Manor Road ground to the public following the theft of boundary rope.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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