JUST hours after local football coaches met with council officials at Blairmount Park to discuss improvements to facilities for youth football, the pitches and an adjacent playpark were churned up by suspected vandals.
The special meeting was arranged to discuss the need for more football pitches for up-and-coming players in the Newton Stewart area and took place at the park on Tuesday evening.
But by Thursday morning, the day before a pitch inspection by Scottish Football Association officials, the suspected vandals had struck and police were left calling for witnesses.
The pitch, also the home of Newton Stewart Football Club, was churned up by car tyres in the early hours of yesterday morning (Thursday) but police say they can’t be sure whether it was down to someone becoming stuck or boy racers vandalising the pitch.
The club’s chairman Andy McClymont told The Gazette: “It looks like vandals have been at it again on the grass, it’s all messed up and they’ve even had a go at the kids’ play area by the roundabout.
“There’s a suggestion that we should lock the gates but we really shouldn’t have to do that, it’s a park for everyone to enjoy. It shouldn’t need to come to that.”
A police spokesman said officers were keen to trace a number of cars seen in the area at the time, particularly a silver or grey Peugeot 206 which was seen driving off in the early hours.
Anyone with any information is being asked to contact police on 0845 600 5701 or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
At the meeting on Tuesday the volunteer coaches of boys and girls who play for local youth team Galloway Thistle were joined by representatives from Newton Stewart FC and the summer and winter league teams to tell the council that the pitches were not meeting the demands of clubs in the area.
Galloway Thistle Coach Alex Whiteside said: “There are just not enough football surfaces in Newton Stewart and the pitches we have are not up to standard. The Minnigaff pitch has gone to wrack and ruin.
“We have Newton Stewart FC, the summer league team and Galloway Thistle has three senior teams, under 17s, under 15s, under 13s, under 12s, under 10s and under eights. That can be seven or eight teams.
“The meeting was very positive and we hope now to utilise the high school pitch as a base for Thistle.”
After the meeting Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes told The Galloway Gazette that the council were also looking at making improvements to the top pitch at Blairmount as well as maximising the use of the pitch at Minnigaff.
A council spokesman said: “Council officials were invited by Galloway Thistle Football Club to discuss the current provision of football pitches in the Mid Galloway area.
“Short and long term goals were discussed and agreed to ensure the continuation of the football development programme in the area. These issues will be further progressed and developed through the Wigtownshire Sports Pitch Forum, which is due to meet next Wednesday at 6.30pm at the Ryan Centre in Stranraer.”