Sunday... mucky Sunday

The litter-strewn pitches and (below) the Sunday league meeting at Marton Institute.
The litter-strewn pitches and (below) the Sunday league meeting at Marton Institute.
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Call this a legacy? Football teams in Blackpool are leading a revolt over the state of pitches across the resort. And now they are demanding answers.

Angry footballers are leading a mutiny against badly maintained pitches amid fears players are in danger of suffering serious injuries.

Blackpool council's Paul Latham addresses the sunday league meeting at Marton Institute.

Blackpool council's Paul Latham addresses the sunday league meeting at Marton Institute.

Potholes on pitches and uncut grass are among the main gripes, but players are also angry about neglected changing rooms and cold showers.

Team bosses from the Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance League called on council chiefs to up their game during a heated meeting at the Marton Institute.

Blackpool Council blamed budget cuts for the shortfalls and said it was doing its best to meet players’ demands.

The meeting heard facilities were poor at pitches on Common Edge Road, Moor Park and Boundary Park in Blackpool.

Brian Carr, of Fylde Coast Gates team, which plays at Common Edge, said: “There are potholes all over the pitch.

“If you are running and you get in one of the potholes you can twist your ankle or even break your leg.

“The council says it checks the pitches on a Friday, but when we play on a Sunday they are not fresh holes.”

Martin Mullholland, also of Fylde Coast Gates, added: “The lads have got to work and if they get injured it’s their livelihoods at stake.

“It’s putting some people off playing football because they don’t want to take the risk.”

The league is made up of 64 teams, each with squads of around 16 players, and teams pay on average £440 per year each to play in the league.

David Hanson, of the Dutton Arms, said: “All we are asking for is pitches that are in a decent condition.

“Teams pay a lot of money to the council and so we deserve something better than this.”

Brian McGuinness, secretary of the Blackpool Catholic Club, said they had played four seasons on the Boundary Park pitches.

He said: “We understand the constraints the council is under but we are looking to work together with them to improve conditions for the benefit of the Sunday football.

“We have been running teams for years and we would like to make sure that continues in the best possible way.”

David Connor, vice-chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance League, said; “We would like to see the council supporting football a bit more.

“After all, they are wanting more people to take up sport.

“But the changing room facilities have been poor for the last 10 or 15 years.”

Paul Latham, of Blackpool Council’s parks department, who attended the meeting, said the council was trying to provide a good service despite recent cutbacks in budgets and manpower.

He said: “As a council we have to work with all parties. The league has worked well with us and we are here to carry on that partnership. The money we had and the staff we had isn’t there. However we are stlll here to provide a service.

“We are very restricted in how often we can cut the grass. We have two mowers that have to go all the way round. On Common Edge Road there is a mound of soil which is used to fill in any holes on the pitch.”

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