Mud bath playing surfaces have long been part of Sunday league football’s unique charm.
But, while bad weather and imperfect groundsmanship are usually to blame, one amateur Leeds club’s season has been thrown into turmoil – after their pitch was wrecked by badgers.
Aberford Albion, who play their home games at Bunkers Hill in the village, spent £2,000 creating an immaculate turf during the close season.
But, having played just one game of their new West Yorkshire League division one campaign, the side have been left with a major headache after a nocturnal invasion by the burrowing beasts. Manager Phil Sharpe said: “I’ve been in football for 40 years – including 28 years at professional and semi-pro level – and I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Suffice it to say badgers aren’t my favourite animals at the moment.”
The club raised a large amount of money to improve the pitch, which is surrounded by countryside, during pre-season.
But Sharpe received a call on the morning of their second home fixture – against Altofts – following an overnight onslaught.
He said: “You could see the pitch had been badly disturbed – there were indentations and sections dug up. It was unplayable.”
The badgers are thought to have been burrowing for chafer grubs, which live under the surface.
Aberford have been in talks with the league about rescheduling fixtures and Sharpe said: “It will be four to five weeks before it will be playable again.”
The club is appealing for materials to help repair the damage. Anyone who can help should email firstname.lastname@example.org.