A PRESTWICH father has branded a group of youths using motorbikes on a playing field in Salford as ‘ridiculous’ after one of them lost control of a bike and almost hit two of the players in his daughter’s under-12s football team during a game.
Alan Henson, 44, who is the manager of Swinton FC under-12 girls’ team, has expressed his anger following a string of incidents at Salford Sports Village on Littleton Road where the team play their home fixtures.
In addition to close shaves with the players and parents, the motorbikes have also caused damage to the turf.
And the problem is still ongoing despite it being reported numerous times to the Sports Village, which is under the Salford Community Leisure umbrella.
The girls have been forced to train and play home games in Salford as Swinton don’t have the facilities to host nine-a-side games.
Alan, who is an industrial painter and coaches in his spare time, said: “It’s just getting worse. A motorbike has been driving up and down the pitches when we’ve been training, now it’s three or four motorbikes. I’ve reported it to the Sports Village and they’ve basically said well what can we do? We’ll just report it on.
“It’s going to end up in some form of confrontation with me if I get a grip of one of them, or one of them if they get a grip of me.”
The fields are accessible to the public and the motorcyclist are believed to have been using flood barriers, installed by the Salford council in 2015, as ramps. There have also been instances of them bringing football games to a halt, Alan explained.
“This weekend we had a friendly against an under-13s girls team, Salford United, and the bikes were milling around and we were talking about it with the other manager who said this has been happening every week.
“Next thing, a lad has tried to do a wheelie across the pitch, just missed two of the kids by about five feet, has lost control of the bike after he’s gone of the pitch and the bike has flipped up. He’s gone right across the middle of the pitch twice.
“The Salford United manager said in his previous game, against a team from Hindley, said took an hour and 20 minutes – and we only play half an hour each way because they had to keep stopping because of the bikes coming across the pitch.
“I mean this is girls football, it’s hard to get the players as it is. You’re trying to build confidence in a friendly, nice environment.
“And when it’s raining and they’ve got these trials bikes that are going across the pitch, there are divots all over the show and the council haven’t got the money to put it right. It’s just a never-ending circle.
“I’m the manager – so once them kids come to me them parents are entrusting me in their care and welfare.
“But at the minute they just seem to say there’s not really much they can do. We’ve got to police it ourselves.
“If one of my dads gives one those kids a good hiding – they’re in trouble. If they chased one of those kids and one of those kids falls off the bike and breaks their leg – the dad gets blamed.
“The field must be half a mile long. There’s enough room for them to stay out of the way. But they’re starting to goad it now. That’s enough of that.”
Browse the image gallery to see the damage caused by motorbikes at Salford Sports Village.
The incidents have been reported on a number of occasions to Salford Sports Village, and Geoff Hodges of Salford Community Leisure has a response to the matter.
“We are sorry to hear about this and that the situation hasn’t been resolved. The last thing we want is for children and families to feel frightened or threatened whilst playing on our pitches.
“A similar situation was brought to my attention earlier in the month by Salford United JFC. The incident has been reported to Greater Manchester Police, however, officers weren’t able to attend in time.
“Sports Village Duty Managers have also discussed the problems with the local PCSOs. We were looking for their shifts to be amended in order to allow them to be present around the times of the games.
“To hear that there has been a repeat is really disappointing. We need to ensure that between coaches, parents and staff at the Sports Village that GMP receive reports as soon as youths are spotted on bikes, giving GMP as much notice as possible to attend.”
Featured image credit: Alan Henson
By Tom Woods