Sunderland junior football club secures £40,000 to build perimeter fence after playing fields plagued by motorbike vandals

After months of having their pitches destroyed by motorbike vandals carving up their turf, a junior football club is celebrating after securing £40,000 of funding to build a perimeter fence and install security cameras to safeguard matches for children in Ryhope.

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 5:01 pm

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Over the last year, King George V Playing Fields have been plagued by illegal riders and quad bikers which has resulted in Sunderland RCA Youth Football Club being unable to use the pitches for their teams.

The club, which runs 12 junior teams for over 200 children, only signed a lease in September with Sunderland City Council to start using the pitches but just as their season was about to start the pitches were left unplayable due to the large divits and a carved up playing surface caused by the vandals.

After the playing fields were repaired, club officials were left “dismayed” when just two weeks later the pitches were once again destroyed.

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Speaking at the time, Under 18s manager Ged Carolan, 54, said: "All we want is for our kids to be able to play football.”

After securing the money to build a metal fence around all three pitches, club officials may finally be able to ensure this happens.

Club Chairman Dave Ramshaw, 62, said: “With 12 teams we really need these pitches, but due to damage caused by joyriders we have had to cancel games and they have only really been used for training.

"Securing the funding to build a perimeter fence is a massive milestone for the club and will be able to provide us with a secure facility for the children to use.”

Dave Ramshaw, chairman of Sunderland RCA Youth Football Club, alongside Cllr Antony Mullen and Cllr Usman Ali and the football fields which have been plagued by joyriders. The club has received £40,000 of funding to erect a perimeter fence.

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While the installation of the fence and security camera may come too late for this season, Dave has been given assurances that it should be in place before the new season kicks off in August.

He added: “The fence will give us the peace of mind in not having to worry week to week that the games can’t take place. It’s really important to have these sorts of facilities for young people to use.

"A lot of people have worked very hard alongside us to make this happen and we sincerely thank them for doing so.”

Extensive damage which has previously been caused to the football pitches at the King George V Playing Fields in Ryhope. Picture by FRANK REID

One of those to have campaigned on behalf of the club is Ryhope Ward councillor, Usman Ali.

Cllr Ali said: “One of my pledges before becoming ward councillor was to help the local community and securing £40,000 of Council funding is a brilliant result. Not only will it benefit the football club but it should also help reduce the problem of antisocial behaviour for people living in the area.”

Fellow city councillor Antony Mullen added: “People who live in the area have been very upset by antisocial behaviour taking place on the playing fields and this perimeter fence will benefit both the club and local residents.

"This type of facility is vital for young people and it’s important that money from Council budgets is spent on the things that matter to local people.”

Once the pitches are secured with a perimeter fence, the club hopes to explore the possibility of developing further facilities including a clubhouse and community cafe.

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