Football club boss hits out at sports ground vandals
THE chairman of Lymington Town Football Club has hit out at vandals plaguing its grounds after a ticket booth was dumped onto a road in the latest incident.
George Shaw, who has headed up the club for about seven years, told the A&T criminal damage and littering “never stops” at its Lymington Sports Ground base off Avenue Road.
On Saturday, the club discovered the fibreglass gateman’s hut had been lifted from its place before being laid on its side in Avenue Road, alongside the pavement.
“It must have taken about six of them,” a frustrated Mr Shaw said.
“It’s very heavy. It would have had to be pushed or carried by a group. They must have had a lot of time on their hands to do this.
“It’s just pathetic really. Sad, sad people.
“The hut had only been there since the start of the season. We had a timber-built one before, but that was completely trashed so we had to replace it with this fibreglass one.”
Although it was badly scratched and will need to be repainted, club staff were able to move it back into its rightful place.
Repeated problems with anti-social behaviour at the sports ground over the years have left the club at a loss as to how they can be dealt with.
Thanking Lymington & Pennington Town Council, which owns the site, for its continued support, Mr Shaw explained it had recently provided new CCTV cameras.
But he commented: “We don’t seem to be much closer to solving the problem.
“They [the offenders] don’t seem that bothered. They just wear hoodies and keep their heads down.
“It never seems to end, unfortunately.”
The most frequent problem affecting the club has been groups of youths congregating and drinking on the stands during the night and smashing bottles there and on the pitch. Mr Shaw said club personnel often had to pick up broken glass before matches in order to protect their players.
One particularly serious incident last year prompted the then town mayor Cllr Barry Dunning to call for police to combat offending at the sports ground.
As reported in the A&T, shocking footage of a teenager being viciously assaulted was posted on Facebook.
Quickly removed, the video filmed from the stands showed a young male approaching another by the touchline before raining punches on him and kicking him in the head as the victim lies still on the ground.
A massive brawl was also said to have broken out on the sports ground in summer 2017 before spilling out onto Avenue Road.
There have also been numerous reports of vehicles being damaged in surrounding streets including Southampton Road, Avenue Road and New Street.
Further discussions between the club and the town council are taking place over possible measures to deter vandals, but the chairman declined to disclose what these were.
“The town council has been very helpful,” he continued. “They do what they can, but it’s the age-old story.
“One of these days it would be nice to get a conviction for some of those responsible for the damage.”
However, he added: “The police are not going to investigate as it’s a waste of time without clear CCTV footage of the suspects.
“It’s been year in, year out ever since I’ve been the chairman. It never stops. Once one crowd grows up and goes off, another one moves in. It’s mindless vandalism, that’s all it is.”
The latest incident was reported to social media users in a sarcastic post on the Lymington Town FC Facebook page on Saturday evening.
“Congratulations to the intelligent people who moved our Avenue Road pay box out into the road today,” the club wrote.
“It must have taken some effort. We hope you feel proud of yourselves!”