Mindless 4x4 drivers have wrecked a kids' rugby pitch at Drighlington ARLFC

A junior pitch at an amateur rugby league club in south Leeds has been severely damaged by vandals who drove 4x4 vehicles onto it.

By Grace Newton
Sunday, 3rd November 2019, 2:39 pm
Drighlington ARLFC club secretary Gillian Brearley surveys the damage
Drighlington ARLFC club secretary Gillian Brearley surveys the damage

Tyre tracks can clearly be seen on the turf at Drighlington ARLFC after the overnight wrecking spree, which has left the pitch unplayable ahead of a junior match that was due to take place on Sunday.

The club's under 12s side have been forced to find an alternative venue for their BARLA Cup game today.

Passengers furious after LNER sells them tickets to a ghost train from Leeds to London that didn't existVice-chairman Carl Richards and several other club members confronted the drivers of a Nissan 4x4 and a modified Land Rover after the vehicles had become stuck on a mound built at the pitch entrance to prevent caravans accessing the site.

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Two 4x4s got onto the pitch on Saturday night

The vandals were a group of men in their late teens and early 20s who appeared to be off-roading for fun.

"When we got there there were two 4x4s stuck on the pitch and a car with another group of lads in it. They've caused quite a lot of damage - they've driven across the whole pitch.

"One of them was stuck on a mound that we built after about 30 caravans got access to the pitch a few years ago. The other was trying to tow it out. There were maybe six lads in three vehicles, and they eventually dragged it out."

The club have reported the men to the police.

The club is on common land so cannot be completely fenced off

65-year-old man died after being hit by a car after Wetherby racesThe pitch, which is used by six junior teams for training and matches involving children aged 7-12, could be out of action until 2020.

"It probably won't be playable again until next spring as it's not grass growing season now. There are a lot of holes that need filling in from the tyres.

"Fortunately we're coming to the end of the junior season, and we have a school playing field and a senior pitch that they can use for the last few games.

"We'll have to pay for our maintenance contractors to repair the damage. We've had quad bikers come on and do donuts on the pitch before, it's about the third time we've been targeted."

The incident has shocked the rugby league community, and several former professional players have taken to Twitter to criticise the men responsible.

Ex-Bradford Bulls and England star Leon Pryce called them 'absolute low life' while Halifax stand-off Scott Murrell, who came through the Drighlington junior teams and went on to represent Leeds Rhinos, posted photos of the damage at his childhood club, adding: "Why would you do this? Idiots."

Former Rhinos assistant coach Stuart Wilkinson said: "You can only imagine the effect this will have on kids this morning when they turn up to play. Sad fools."

The club are hoping to install security barriers to prevent further trespass incidents, but as the ground is on common land, are unable to completely fence the pitch off.

"We are trying to get barriers and we've managed to fence the senior pitch off, but we do face a lot of local resistance. The mounds stop caravans coming in but 4x4s can just drive over them," added Carl.