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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Vandals won’t derail Wallsend touch campaign

The Wallsend Touch Association is determined not to let thoughtless vandals derail its upcoming season in 2021.

The organisation’s diligent volunteers were dismayed to find graffiti adorned to their prized clubhouse last week, only days after the City of Newcastle provided the facility with a new coat of paint, as well as other items such as seats.

Wolves’ admin officer Kellie Johnston could only shake her head in disbelief at the senseless act.

“Why do people do this?” she said.

“We’re just providing a sporting service to the local community.

“So, it’s very upsetting for the group [of volunteers], especially when they work tirelessly to make the clubhouse look great.

“Unfortunately, this [incident] took place over three consecutive days.

“And, while we reported it through the appropriate channels, we ended up cleaning it ourselves.

“The association has kids training here during the week, so we didn’t want them to see some of the disgusting language, which was on display.

“Luckily, when these kinds of things usually happen, the support we receive from City of Newcastle and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery is fantastic.”

Sadly, vandalism is a regular occurrence at the local sportsground, according to president Nat Little.

“One of the biggest issues is people hooning on motorbikes or cars on the actual fields,” she said.

“They can do some real damage, especially after it rains.

“It’s disappointing, as the grounds are for everyone.

“We’re now looking at installing CCTV cameras but, in the meantime, we’d like residents to be vigilant and report anything they witness.”

“My dad, Harold ‘Paddy’ Miller, started this club almost 40 years ago,” Mrs Johnston added.

“So, when people deface the clubhouse or damage the playing surface, we all take it personal, not just me.

“It’s like our second home.”

The Wolves, however, will now turn their attention to some big events in the immediate future – the Peter Wilson Memorial Championships at Nelson Bay (6 and 7 February), NSW Touch Junior State Cup at Port Macquarie (19 to 21 February) and their own 2021 autumn competition, which kicks off on 1 March.

“Wallsend boasts about 100 junior and a further 100 senior teams, equating to more than 3000 players,” Mrs Johnston said.

“So, touch is as popular as ever.

“While the juniors are preparing for their upcoming tournaments next month, the seniors will contest the autumn comp every Monday and Wednesday evening.

“Anyone aged 12 years and older can play in that format.

“Then the juniors return to club action from August to December.

“We also ran a shortened 10-week comp after COVID-19.

“I think everyone was just happy to get out of the house again.”