'Is it worth it?': Despair after vandals smash dugouts at Beeston St Anthony's

Vandals broke into Beeston St Anthony's twice in three days - destroying both of the Leeds football club's dugouts.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 13:02 pm
First team manager Mark Halmshaw and chairman Mally Hill by the vandalised dugout (Photo and video: Steve Riding)

"We are fighting a constant battle," the 56-year-old said. "Times like this make you think 'is it all really worth it'?"

The club, which celebrates its centenary next year, regularly has its security fence cut open and pitch damaged.

First team manager Mark Halmshaw and chairman Mally Hill by the vandalised dugout (Photo and video: Steve Riding)

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Last year, glass shards were even stuck into the pitch before a game.

Mr Hill, who has been involved with the club for more than 30 years as a player and manager, said: "We work to provide the very best facilities. Amateur football is dying, it costs a lot to keep running. This is so demoralising.

"We'll have to go down before the first game of the season and walk around the fence. It makes you think 'is it all worth it.'

"But you realise it is when they all turn up to play."

Defender Ryan Bailey helps clear the damage (Photo and video: Steve Riding).

Three open age teams play on a Saturday, with an under-21s team competing throughout Yorkshire in the week.

St Anthony's is not connected to a youth team, so find it harder than many clubs to compete for funding.

Now based at Kings Field, St Anthony's used to play at Beggars Hill, overlooking Elland Road. Vandalism has been a persistent problem in both places.

Beeston St Anthony's players dismantle the vandalised dug outs (Photo and video: Steve Riding)

Two local schools also use the pitch.

"I don't know what's behind it," Mr Hill said. "Is it a vendetta? I don't know. There were a lot of objections when we set up here as it was used for dog walking.

"With the latest incident, I don't think it was kids. Some of the weight of that stuff is frightening."

Thugs broke into the ground on Wednesday July 24 and again two days later. Both dugouts were so badly damaged that the club have been forced to pull them down completely.

They are now appealing for help to raise money for a pair of removable dugouts, costing around £5,000. It is feared new permanent dugouts would only be another target.

"We don't mind kids climbing over the fence to play on the pitch, but this is just mindless vandalism and it's dangerous," Mr Hill said.

"It's a constant fight and some of the older committee men are starting to give up a little bit.

"It takes the enjoyment away. You just don't know what you are going to turn up to tomorrow."

There were fears that the pitch might not be ready for the first game of the season on Satuday against Sherburn White Rose at St Anthony's Road, but the area has been made safe for players and spectators, so can go ahead.