VANDALS damaged equipment worth thousands of pounds at a cricket club.
Members of Boldon CA have been left angered after finding covers used to protect the wicket cut to shreds.
It has now left the club, which is run by volunteers, with the mammoth task of raising £6,000 to pay for replacements in time for next season.
The team plays in the Durham Coast League and as part of regulations, must have covers to protect the wickets to ensure games can be played.
“It just makes you sick that someone can do this,” said club chairman Lee Jackson.
“We are run by volunteers who give their time to keep the club going and raise funds for equipment.
“We received a grant and worked hard to fund-raise so that we could buy the covers. It’s just devastating to see this happen.”
The damaged covers were discovered when members went to the ground on Wednesday morning to prepare the site ahead of a match.
But instead, they were left trying to piece together the remnants of the covers in a desperate bid to create one full cover to protect the main wicket in case of heavy rainfall.
It is the third time the club, which plays at Boldon Villa in Boldon Colliery, has been hit by yobs who have targeted the covers once before. Nearby football pitches have also fallen foul of vandals who have set fire to grass and stolen cable from floodlights.
The club provides a place for keen cricketers to play their sport from the juniors through to the seniors.
Mr Jackson added: “I don’t think these people realise the impact something like this has.
“We are now going to have to use money which should have been there for new equipment or to help fund the youngsters to take part in tournaments, towards replacing the covers.
“These were people who knew what they were doing as they have cut the covers in sections. It’s just sickening for the children who play here, the parents who support us and the senior players that someone has done this to them.”
It is thought the covers, which are waterproof, have been cut to be used as either ground mats for a tent or for the lining of a fish pond.
Jon Commmons, neighbourhood sergeant for Boldon, Cleadon and Whitburn, said: “The club relies heavily on donations and this is going to set them back at least £2,000 to put this right, which is a large amount of money to find for a charity organisation.
“This mindless act of vandalism could mean local children missing out on activities as money is having to be diverted to pay for replacement covers.
“We would appeal to anyone with information on this crime or who knows of anyone who has come by a large piece of tarpaulin recently to contact us.”
The club is now appealing for businesses or anyone who can help replace the covers or help raise funds to pay for replacements to contact them.
Police can be contacted on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.