Vandals cause up to £12,000 worth of damage at grassroots football club in Orpington
A grassroots football club in Orpington has had their £12,000 dug outs completely knocked down by vandals.
Orpington Rovers’ dug outs, built by a parent to provide shelter for the children, were smashed during the night on Wednesday, June 29.
The culprits are currently unknown, but the volunteer-led club say neighbours have reported youths jumping the fences, with some acting “hostile and aggressive.”
Ben Devonshire, a 45-year-old volunteer at the club, said: “We are really struggling with anti-social behaviour at the moment.
“It’s really disheartening that people are doing this because now we have to spend our hard-earned money fixing their damage.
“We’re all just volunteers and everyone’s feeling a bit flat.
“What is wrong with people?”
Over the past 12 months, the community football club has had their floodlights smashed with an air rifle, meaning they can no longer train at night as these lights are too expensive for them to fix.
They have also had their ‘respect banner’, outlining their message of inclusivity, broken and ripped down, as well as the goal frames damaged.
Orpington Rovers FC say they will struggle to continue their community work if something isn’t done to stop this “mindless vandalism.”
Ben added: “On top of all this damage, teenagers are coming onto our pitches and leaving broken glass and laughing gas cannisters everywhere, so we have to clean it up when the kids come to play on a Sunday.
“Orpington Rovers FC ground is a privately owned facility and while we don’t mind children playing football, over time the respect of our club has diminished.
“It seems every week more and more vandalism is happening.”
The club are based at Cockmannings Lane in Orpington and there is a footpath that leads into the grounds from the road which means that people are able to access the pitches at night.
Ben said: “The path is not patrolled regularly so these people seem to have a free run of the club.
“We have considered CCTV but it’s another expense and it won't necessarily deter people.
“A 24-hour security system is an additional expense, and will either increase fees or remove opportunities from the children - who are the focus of our time and effort.”
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that this recent incident of vandalism was reported to them.
Orpington Rovers FC is run by 40 volunteers, including former West Ham and Chelsea player Scott Minto who is the club president.
The club has 19 teams starting from under six-years-old and is currently investing heavily to get girls into football, having recently accredited Wildcat status from the FA.
Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.
Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.