Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 19th January 2021

Ashton turf damage resulted from sheer malice


By Charles Randall

16 May 2019

A class of vandalism rarely reported has been deliberate damage through grievance. This is far worse than bat throwing, door bashing or player tantrums during matches.

Recently Ashton Ladysmith CC, in Manchester, discovered that more than 150 holes had been dug on their square and outfield at Ashton-under-Lyne, outside Manchester, by one or more persons using a spade after scaling a six-foot metal fence. It seems unlikely bored youths could be blamed for that.

David Gaskin, the clubhouse manager, was convinced it was an act of malice, planned in advance. "It happened last year as well," he said. "It wasn't as bad, and we thought at the time it may have been kids, but not this time - this is deliberate. It's the same area that's been targeted as well, so it seems like someone has a grievance against the club."

Last year the Rose Hill Road square was attacked by a pick-axe, causing dozens of holes, at the start of the season.  The damage was repaired quickly, but  this time the ground will be unfit for perhaps a month. Gaskin spent three hours replacing the dug-up clods into the holes. Practice strips will have to be used for the club's North Manchester League matches for about a month.

Walmley CC suffered similar targeted vandalism just before the start of the season in April when an unidentified individual walked into their Sutton Coldfield ground on a midweek afternoon. He slashed gaping holes in the covers, damaged the cricket nets and immediately left.

Martin Hoffman, the Walmley chairman, reckoned the incident was "an act of hate or revenge". He said a man had been spotted on CCTV going directly to the covers and nets at the Eldon Drive ground.  "He was here for 10 minutes," he added. "In the 40 years I have been associated with the club we have never been suspect to random vandalism. This is clearly an act of hate and revenge. He’s attacked the stuff only a cricket person knows would cause us the most grief, hurt and expense. If it was random they would have damaged a fence."

The damage could cost the Birmingham & District League club about £2,500 to fix.

Hall Park CC, near Leeds, suspect they were targeted by an insider. The club suffered a break-in and theft of £4,000 from a safe  less than 48 hours after an Easter fund-raising event.

The thieves seemed to have an inside knowledge of the Horsforth clubhouse, cutting a hole in the roof and entering at exactly the right place to bypass the alarm. They smashed open the safe located in a closet and made off with the money and all the CCTV footage. In 2015 the club  had three lawn mowers stolen, worth more than £10,000.

Pre-season damage by individuals might not necessarily be the result of vandalism. Yorkley Star CC, near Lydney, had to close in 2015 when wild boars dug up huge swathes of outfield. The club formed again in 2017 with a £15,000 fence in place, but the boars returned through an open gate and again destroyed the outfield. The turf at another Forest club Cinderford St John's CC was similarly attacked by boars in 2017, forcing the club to take expensive action.

Rickmansworth CC, in Hertfordshire, had to repair considerable outfield damage near the square caused by badgers, delaying the start of the 2013 season. It cost the club several thousand pounds to repair.

Seagulls once pecked holes in the groundsheet covering the square at Taunton Vale CC, letting water on to the square and ruling out play for a day in a Somerset 2nd XI three-day match against Essex.