‘Bored youths’ blasted for vandalism at football club

Committee Member Ron Taylor ,Chairman Colin Ralls and Head Groundsman Ken Mortimore of Sidmouth Foot

Committee Member Ron Taylor ,Chairman Colin Ralls and Head Groundsman Ken Mortimore of Sidmouth Football Club in front of the stand that has now been plastered with graffiti. Ref shs 8352-47-14TI. - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Town Football Club has been left with a repair bill after ‘mindless’ vandals trashed its facilities – and bosses are blaming the closure of the nearby youth centre for the damage.

The dugout walls at the Manstone Lane ground have been kicked in and burnt with cigarettes, and the new £5,000 stand has been blighted by graffiti.

Chairman Colin Ralls said the club lets youngsters use the facilities, but some have taken advantage and regularly leave the site littered with bottles and cans.

“We’ve never had trouble like this before – they’ve run riot since the closure of the youth club,” he said. “They’ve got nowhere to go.

“We leave the dugouts there so they can get out of the rain, but they have ripped them apart.

“It’s just mindless vandalism. I don’t know what pleasure they get out of it.

“We shouldn’t have to pay for it, and it takes time to get it done.”

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Mr Ralls said it would cost ‘a couple of hundred’ pounds to fix the dugouts, but the club is opting to replace them instead.

The stand was installed last year and was in good condition until it was targeted with graffiti last week. Special chemicals must be utilised to clean the Perspex panels.

Mr Ralls said a group of commendable young people had cleaned up the adjacent skate park, but the club groundsman regularly has to take away carrier bags full of rubbish that the teens leave behind.

The youngsters are also wearing away the grass in front of the stand, leaving a muddy surface for supporters.

Police Sergeant Andy Squires said: “It’s a further example of the antisocial behaviour we are seeing as a result of bored youths.”

He added that there have been a number of reports of young people hanging around the youth centre and causing trouble.

Sgt Squires said that while officers had increased their patrols, they could not be present all the time.

Sidmouth Town Council has set up a working group to look at reopening the youth centre.

Councillor Stuart Hughes has been in talks with the YMCA and the Salvation Army about getting back up and running, potentially by January.