‘Mindless louts’ target Long Melford youth football pitches

Long Melford Football Club
Long Melford Football Club

Long Melford Football Club has expressed shock and outrage after a trio of youths smashed dozens of glass bottles over its youth pitches last week.

The offenders, believed to be in their mid-teens, fled after they were seen trespassing on the grounds in Stoneylands on Friday, between 3pm and 4pm, by a club official, who later discovered hundreds of glass shards strewn over the pitches used by the Colts and Fillies youth teams.

The three perpetrators, two of whom were wearing black tops and the other wearing all grey, were reportedly seen later in the day sitting on benches outside The George and Dragon Inn in Hall Street.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said police had been informed and asked anyone with any information to come forward.

The police confirmed they are currently treating it as a littering incident, and not as criminal vandalism.

But Rob Bowden, chairman of the Long Melford Colts and Fillies, said the actions of the youths could have seriously injured any of the 150 boys and girls who used the pitch for training and matches.

“The mindless behaviour of three louts has left us facing a time-consuming and potentially expensive clean-up operation,” he said.

“The scumbags who did this didn’t just break the bottles – they smashed them into tiny bits in a deliberate attempt to cause us much disruption as possible.

“Clearly, they didn’t give a damn about the fact that their actions could cause serious injury to one of our players.

“Like a lot of football clubs, we are plagued by anti-social behaviour, particularly during the summer months when the ground is not in regular use and becomes a magnet for bored teenagers, but this is easily the worst incident we’ve had to deal with.

“The pitches we play on are privately owned, so anyone who sets foot on them without our permission is guilty of trespassing.”

The club is now set to bring forward its plans to install secure fencing and a CCTV system at the ground, in time for a major redevelopment scheme to be launched next year as part of the club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Bowden added that teams of helpers had been “on their hands and knees” over the weekend and the start of this week to try to clear every piece of glass from the field.

“Long Melford FC is one of the oldest football clubs in the country and we are determined to safeguard its future by building a secure, multi-purpose facility,” he said.

“Until then, we’ll be taking a zero tolerance approach to anyone who trespasses on our pitches. Enough is enough.

“We are a non-profit making community club that provides over 150 youngsters from eight to 18 with the opportunity to train and play in a friendly, family orientated environment.

“We have to raise thousands of pounds every year to keep the club going and improving security at the ground is going to be costly, but there’s no way we are going to allow a handful of idiots to ruin things for all our players and their parents.”

Anyone with information should call Suffolk Police on 101, quoting the code CAD 377 of June 23.