ANYONE who knows me will understand I have no issue in speaking my mind and that I champion the efforts of all volunteers involved at amateur/grassroots level so this week I’ve been thinking more about how important our cricket grounds can be to businesses in their marketing/branding efforts for 2019.

However, I was gobsmacked to read a tweet by Astley and Tyldesley CC about how their ground had been victim to teenage vandals on a couple of occasions over the last week.

This isn’t the first time one of our clubs has been victim to this sort of behaviour – earlier this year I had put an advertising board up on a Sunday morning and by evening it had been smashed to pieces by a gang of teenage boys and girls.

The question is always asked by clubs: “Do the parents know what they are up to?” 

The answer more often than not is probably no they don’t, and I’d hazard a guess to say they aren’t bothered.

So this week's column is more of a plea to parents whose children are out after dark and they have no idea what they get up to with their friends.

Take them to a local cricket club this weekend – while the game is on obviously – and explain to them there are gates to walk through rather than fences to jump over.

Show them facilities people have put countless unpaid hours into over the years, in some cases a hundred years, to build, maintain and improve on and teach them that these clubs are not well off like the football and cricket teams they see on Sky Sports and that people have given up valuable time and effort to produce something, not just for cricket lovers but for the community and are to be respected.

You never know you may actually enjoy it too, even if you aren’t the biggest sports follower in the town. 

My dad, uncles, aunties, cousins and my brother have spent more than 50 years involved at Elton CC and they’ve given up more than enough of their spare time to provide cricket facilities for hundreds of players and families, much like other volunteers have done elsewhere in the town, that they should not have to worry about petty acts of annoying vandalism happening at the clubs.

Our clubs do not just have £5,000 to replace covers that have been destroyed by teenagers thinking they are a bouncy castle, or the money to replace multiple advertising boards that are smashed. 

They work hard for themselves to raise funds for what is necessary and quite frankly they shouldn’t have to continue to fund the repair work of the mindless unnecessary acts of vandalism and destruction that teenagers these days seem to be bent on acting out regularly.