Volunteers have been left devastated after a rugby club in Eccles was vandalised for the second time in a fortnight.
An arson attack on Salford City Roosters’ equipment store on Wednesday evening has caused thousands of pounds-worth of damage.
Fire crews were called to put out the blaze and club chairman Chris Irwin believes those responsible could be locally-based youngsters.
He said: “It’s heartbreaking in all honesty. For a club like us, which does so much to raise money and give kids the opportunity to play, then having kids from the local area coming in and vandalising it.”
— SalfordCityRoosters (@SalfordRoosters) June 30, 2021
Tackle bags, post guards, and tackle shields were all irreparably damaged in the fire and vandalism is becoming a regular issue for the club.
Last week, vandals broke into the clubhouse store cabin, smashing all the team’s corner flags and training poles with neighbours reporting other incidents to the club.
‘Come and play for us’
The community rugby club has teams for 5-year-olds all the way to 40-plus and Chris believes those attacking the side would be better off joining it.
He said: “These kids are clearly bored – they’re not doing it for any other reason than boredom aren’t they? We probably could do a little more to engage with these kids.
“Emotionally I don’t have too much sympathy for them but we do a lot of work to support kids like them and if they’re looking for an outlet come and play for us.
“Rugby league is a great outlet for a lot of people and they’ll get a lot [of] enjoyment and probably make a lot of use out of it. They’ll learn discipline and all the values from it that can change lives.
“But at the moment, it’s spoiling the enjoyment for hundreds of kids and club members from 5-year-olds to 40-year-olds.”
Protecting a rich history
The club, which is celebrating forty years since its formation, has seen thousands of youngsters pass through its doors and also started several professional careers.
Former internationals Adrian Morley and Nathan MacAvoy started at the Eccles side, as did ex-Salford Red Devils head coach, Ian Watson.
And the club is calling on Salford City Council to give it permission to protect its pitches and equipment.
Chris said: ” All we’re asking really is for the council to give us permission to fence the pitches off. We have the funds and a contractor in place to do the work.
“But we’ve been turned down each time because they say dog walkers have rights.”
It's so frustrating. Our club pays the lease for this land but have to accept dog mess left on the pitches. Kids smash our side of pitch barriers and now vandelise and burn our equipment. We have the money to fence the pitches just give us permission @SalfordCouncil. https://t.co/TEWpXjLjJ4
— Chris Irwin (@chris_irwin) July 1, 2021
Rugby League rallies round
This is the second time this year that the rugby league world has focussed their attention on the Roosters, after the passing of long-time stalwart and co-founder, Alfrida Kindon, in April.
Mrs Kindon started the club with her husband Rod and news of her death led to tributes from across the rugby community from players, clubs, and commentators.
— Sanny Rudravajhala (@SannyR1985) April 29, 2021
We paid our respects yesterday to the life of Alfrieda Kindon, the heartbeat of Salford City Roosters.
May she rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/6GoWfgfVBk
— Salford Red Devils 👹 (@SalfordDevils) April 24, 2021
Just as then, Chris says the club has been flooded with messages.
He said: “The support we’ve had from the rugby league community has been outstanding. We’ve had a call today from the RFL (Rugby Football League) – they’ve gone above and beyond.
“They’re actually dropping off some post protectors off for us today and without those, all of our games this weekend would have to be cancelled.”
Local community teams have also rallied and offered replacement equipment, as has Super League side, Salford Red Devils.
And Chris added: “I know it may sound cliché but it truly is a rugby league family.”
Today's donation to one of our community clubs, @SalfordRoosters, who were recent victims of vandalism.
🐶 Sorry Roosters, but @marlon_billy's dog, Mia, is not part of the donation!
— Salford Red Devils 👹 (@SalfordDevils) July 1, 2021