Published: 10:30, 14 May 2022
| Updated: 10:34, 14 May 2022
Players are back using a cricket pitch which had been ruined by vandals.
Callous thugs poured diesel oil over three-quarters of the square at Newington Cricket Club in Coldharbour Lane, Bobbing, Sittingbourne in February.
But thanks to donations from the public and frantic behind-the-scenes work by groundsman and former wicket-keeper Jerry Overbury the club is once again able to host matches.
Social secretary Colin Creasy said: “We managed to get it all repaired in a few days but it will still be six weeks before we can play on it properly.
“Luckily, there are other strips we have been able to use. But we try to keep fielders off the new grass.”
He added: “Our contractors covered the affected area with something to absorb the oil at first and then dug down two inches to remove the damaged turf.
“They also donated five tonnes of loam which saved us a lot of money.”
He said the seeds had taken and the grass is being mowed although the ground still hasn’t been rolled.
He said: “We need a good pitch as we have representative cricket. We often host Kent over-60s teams here.
“We now have two different shades of grass. Hopefully, that will disappear later.”
The club set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of the repairs and raised about £2,000 within 27 hours.
Colin admitted: “We were shocked that a little club like us could raise so much money in such a short time.
“It was nice some of our rival clubs pledged to help. We also had donations from members of the public and former players we hadn’t seen for years.”
The damage was first spotted by the club groundsman while walking his dogs.
Colin said: “It was a lot of diesel. It looked like it could have been two jerry cans. They poured it where the ball lands. They obviously knew what they were doing.”
Originally, he predicted the ground would not be ready in time for the new season.
He said: “We spend a couple of thousand every year to keep the pitch in a good condition and had just finished paying for the previous repairs.
“It was devastating, especially after Covid. It was a massive financial blow to the club.”
Everything was insured - except the pitch.
The club, which has 45 members, fields a Kent Regional League team on Saturdays and a friendly team on Sundays.
It is also organising the newly-launched Medway and Swale Evening Cricket League.
Colin added that despite appeals for witnesses and CCTV footage, the police had failed to find the culprits.