Community raises more than £1,000 for football club hit by pitch vandals

A community has rallied around a football club in Sunderland to raise more than £1,000 after vandals completely destroyed their pitches.

The pitches at Washington AFC, were covered in tyre tracks from cars driving over the grounds in a mindless attack on October 5, making it unusable for the club’s 50 teams of adults and children.

Gary Sykes, who is Head of Football at the club said they had to put a stop to games just two weeks after they started up again.

But the community has so far raised more than £1,000 to help pay for fencing which will hopefully prevent similar incidents happening again.

The pitch on Stephenson Road, Washington, is repaired and maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers who Gary said were left “heartbroken” by the damage.

They not only work as groundsmen but they also help coach the club’s footballers.

Gary said: “It’s just heartbreaking for our volunteers because they’ve poured their heart and soul into this and have spent so much time and effort getting the pitch ready.

Washington AFC's ground at Stephenson Road, Washington which has been badly damaged by vehicles over the weekend
Washington AFC’s ground at Stephenson Road, Washington which has been badly damaged by vehicles over the weekend

“We’re just a community club which provides for the boys and girls in our local community.

“It gives our boys and girls the opportunity to come along, learn some skills, learn how to play football and it’s also very much a social thing for a lot of people too.

“Everyone loved being back and it really helps with their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Gary has since thanked the public for their “amazing” support following the incident.

He said: “The support has just been amazing from the community we can’t thank everyone enough.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “At 9.45am on Monday we received a report of criminal damage at The Northern Area Playing Fields, on Stephenson Road, Washington.

“It was reported that offenders had used vehicles to drive over the football pitch, causing significant damage to the turf. An investigation has been launched to identify those responsible.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting log 251 051020.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland