Thugs’ wrecking spree leaves junior club paying price

A JUNIOR football club has been targeted by vandals for the fourth time in a year.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 2nd September 2011, 3:49 pm

Officials from Dalkeith Thistle arrived at the ground on Sunday to find the pay booths smashed up and yellow paint splattered across the entrance to the ground.

That follows attempts earlier this year to burn down part of the enclosure at Kings Park, in the town’s Croft Street South, as well as breaking in to the team’s portable building where pre and post-match hospitality takes place.

The damage will cost the Jags hundreds of pounds, with the president admitting they faced a struggle to repair the pay booths in time for the visit of Whitburn tomorrow in a crunch league match.

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In the middle of last week, the club had issues with local youngsters breaking in to the ground and playing football on the pitch.

In a bid to deter that happening again, the goalposts were taken down and placed at the side of the pitch, but the following evening the teenagers re-erected them and continued to play.

And at the weekend, the poles used to support the nets were used to smash in to two pay booths.

President Tom Gilhooley said: “It’s just so disheartening, and I don’t know why it’s happening. It’s not like we’ve made any enemies, and it’s really costing the club.”

Dalkeith Thistle will have to find the spare cash from its own accounts, as they do not want to risk further pushing up the insurance premium.

“It’s not like we keep anything in these booths,” Mr Gilhooley added. “I don’t know if they assumed that’s where all the takings were kept.

“We’ve had a lot of problems this last year. We had a pot of paint used to paint yellow lines at the entrance, so they poured that everywhere.

“We’ve had people trying to set fire to the enclosure, even though it’s made of metal. They’ve broken into the portable cabins too, which means we’ve had to put metal shutters in, which doesn’t look great.”

The doors, windows and the locks at the two booths will have to be replaced, and that work is putting pressure on a small and ageing committee that is already stretched.

They suspect local youths from Dalkeith to be behind the crimes.

Vice-president Jimmy Butt said: “We are just a wee club on a limited budget, trying to do our best in a competitive league. It’s frustrating when this sort of thing happens. It’s not in our interest to make an insurance claim as our premium shoots up, so what can we do?”

A spokesman from Lothian and Borders police said: “We are investigating the incident, which took place overnight on Saturday.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 0131-311 3131.