Washington football club's heartbreak after vandals destroy their pitches

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Vandals drove across the pitches at Washington AFC causing extensive damage just two weeks after games had started again.

Gary Sykes (pictured above), who is Head of Football at Washington AFC, arrived at the ground on Stephenson Road, Washington, at around 9.30am on Monday, to find the pitches in a terrible state.

The pitches were covered in tyre tracks from cars driving over the grounds, making it unusable for the club's 50 teams of adults and children.

Gary explained: "I came down for 9.30am and that's when I saw the state of the pitches. It was quite clear cars had been on it. They had managed to find a small gap where a car could fit.

"I immediately thought that the football is going to be stopped when we'd only just started back up again from lockdown. Everyone loved being back and it really helps with their physical and mental wellbeing."

The pitch is repaired and maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers who Gary said have been left "heartbroken" by the recent damage.

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

Gary said: "We're coming into autumn and winter now so it's going to be wet and we have to work around our volunteers, they all have jobs and families. One is a fireman, one works away with his job."

"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. 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."

Gary has since thanked the public for their "amazing" support after many expressed their outrage at the damage.

Football at the ground is cancelled this weekend and is likely to be cancelled next weekend until the pitches can be repaired.

View the original article and video interview with Gary Sykes here

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