Mindless vandals have caused £30,000 of damage at West Lothian community football club in just two years

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Mindless vandalism has cost a West Lothian community football team a whopping £30,000 in just two years.

Damage at Bankton Mains Football park has cost Muriston United Community Football Club between £20,000 and £30,000 over the last 24 months, according to a source at the club.

The brunt of the vandalism takes place on the 3g park, with holes cut in the fence, artificial turf dug up and cut, litter left on the park, portaloo pushed on their sides, and the goals left in tatters.

Muriston United has been a part of the Livingston community for nearly 40 years, supporting kids as young as five years old as well as putting on walking football for the elderly, and 5-a-side for those struggling with mental health.

The destruction of property at the club’s grounds began over lockdown in 2020, with youths turning up in droves to congregate while social distancing was still meant to be in place.

The most recent spate of vandalism took place early last week, with a 4×4 tearing up turf on the nearby grass parks and children’s play area.

The most recent spate of vandalism took place early last week, with a 4×4 tearing up turf on the nearby grass parks and children’s play area

Youth coaches and maintenance staff began to notice as the park would be filled with left-over litter from the weekend, finding old used barbecues, empty beer bottles, and even used condoms.

Thomas Grant (42) is a locksmith who manages maintenance for Muriston’s grounds, as well as the Amateurs team, he said:

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“These groups of about 60 to 80 kids thinking they can do what they want have been taking the grounds for granted, it’s a total lack of respect for a space that’s served the community for generations.

“I’m of two minds really, we want the grounds to be open to the community, for families to be able to play football with their kids, but how do we protect it?

“Everything would be fine if the kids just tidied up behind themselves and respected the park – but that’s not the case, I can litter pick for hours on a Saturday and the park will be in a state again on Sunday morning.”

Measures to counter both the vandalism and the spread of Covid-19 fell flat, as vandals cut holes in the fence to climb through or over – even cutting the padlock and the bolt on the front gate.

Even vandal paint on the fences didn’t stop the slick vandals as they used bin bags to get enough traction to vault the fence while remaining clean and dry.

As well as a major financial drain for the club it poses a health risk to the would-be vandals -on at least four occasions youths have cut up their hands from attempting to scale the fence.

Mr Grant continued: “It’s been a massive financial drain on the club for the last two years, apart from that it’s affecting training as well – youth coaches are having to spend 25 minutes ahead of kids sessions just to clear up broken glass and litter.

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“The goal nets need to be replaced every second month, the fence is in pieces from kids cutting it to get in, we only got the new goals two years ago and already they’re needing replaced from vandals swinging on them and knocking them about .

“It’s frustrating as we’re right next to the grass parks which are open to the public, the grass can be fixed to an extent but the astroturf is much more expensive.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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