A major fundraising event for young footballers which was threatened by travellers will still go on thanks to the local community.
On Tuesday evening travellers broke into the Central Ajax Football Club site, which is on Hampton Road, Warwick.
Club members were becoming increasingly concerned that their annual summer tournament, which is due to take place this weekend, would have to be cancelled because of the traveller encampments.
The annual tournament sees around 1,000 children from across the Midlands taking part and also brings in thousands of pounds of revenue for the club.
During the time the travellers were on the site, they drove erratically on the football pitches, broke into storage containers, damaged equipment and used the club’s spotlights.
On Wednesday afternoon police officers served a Section 61 notice, which meant that the travellers had to be off the site by 10am on Thursday.
Sam Canty, who is vice chairman Central Ajax Football Club, said: “They left the site at 8.30pm and we secured the site. Moving forward it is all hands on deck to get the tournament up and running and it will go ahead.”
“We have a team of volunteers turning up tonight. The community has really come together. We have had support from members, people from the local community who have nothing to do with the club’s running, people involved with the club in the past and present, parents and players.
“The travellers have stolen a few things but it is all stuff that can be replaced. We lost a set of nine-a-side goals but we have had a couple of offers from local clubs.
“Luckily the pitch damage is minimal because of the time of year. They haven’t churned up the grass and you can still play football on it. We are lucky because they didn’t get into the club house. There is human waste around the clubhouse as well as dirty loo roll and wet wipes and because of the wind this has affected lanes outside the clubhouse, around the children’s play village next door and neighbours and businesses but we will be clearing that up today.
“I would like to thank everyone from our club, members, our committee, managers, parents, players, the local community, other local football clubs, the council and the traveller liaison team and the police for their swift action.”
Neil Adams, facilities manager and team manager for the U10’s, said: “I’d also like to thank Racing Club Warwick and Warwick Juniors for their support.”