Young footballers at a Melton junior football club have been left reeling after vandals smashed up their goals and thieves stole their machinery for cutting the grass.
Melton Foxes are desperately short of money as a result of the crimes and are appealing for community help so they can continue to organise training and matches for more than 200 children and teenagers.
Four plastic goals, which cost £100 each, were snapped and the pieces thrown around the club’s pitches and in the adjacent river at the club’s Saxby Road HQ after a storage compound was broken into.
In a separate incident, thieves stole their grass strimmer and vandalised their tractor to leave them with a heavy bill every time they cut the grass.
And yet another raid on the club saw food from their tuck box stolen after a break-in which will cost £600 in repairs to the clubhouse.
Nick Keightley, one of the club’s volunteers, said: “We discovered the damage to the goals when we went down to the ground to tidy it up for the new season.
“The kids who were with us were so disappointed with what had happened.
“They were saying ‘how can we play football now without any goals?’.
“It was a bit of a shock for them, as well as us.”
The vandalised goals, for small-sided matches, were provided for the club around seven years ago by Mansfield Town professional footballer Paul Anderson, who grew up in Melton and went on to play for Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
In the short term, the players have been using small goals from their own back gardens and Melton electrical retailer, Stuart Westmoreland, has donated an aluminium goal to the club.
Mr Keightley said: “We are very grateful to Stuart Westmoreland for their help and we need another goal like this one which is metal and vandal-proof, but it costs £540.
“We are having to pay £60 a time to a private contractor to have the grass cut because it will cost us £500 to repair the damage to our tractor.
“The club’s costs seem to be going up and up at the minute and there just doesn’t seem to be any spare money.”
Melton Foxes run 15 teams for youngsters aged from five up to 18.
Some of the players then go on to play for Melton Town FC in adult football.
“We have really been hit hard this year and we would be so grateful for any donations we can get from local businesses or people who want to help,” added Mr Keightley.
Call Dominic on 07757 210151 if you would like to pledge some money to help the club.