• Manchester Evening News 2005

EQUIPMENT and facilities at one of Middleton’s oldest sporting institutions have been severely damaged by vandals.

Club chairman Eamonn Ward said recent events have made it virtually impossible to play on the courts at the town’s tennis club, on Towncroft Avenue unless an official is there.

Mr Ward said the club’s timber pavilion, built in the 1930s, has always been a target for minor acts of vandalism over the years.

However, in the last month the attacks have escalated and have resulted in a large section of the frontage being ripped off and graffiti scrawled on it.

Trespassers have looted and smashed the small amount of equipment left in the clubhouse, and paint, which was stored there, has been splashed at the side of the club’s three courts, which last year were resurfaced at a cost of ¬£25,000.

Mr Ward said it had now got to the stage where members and youngsters could only play if himself or another committee member took along the nets – which he had to store in his car to make sure they were not taken from the pavilion.

He said: “Basically the people who are carrying out the vandalism are idiots, and they are not teenagers but people in their 20s. They have battered their way in and have done a damn good job of wrecking the place.

“It is a real shame because it is the young and the schools who suffer. Although we do have members the club is virtually open to anyone, but it doesn’t take many people with beer bottles to intimidate a couple of 10-year-olds.”

Middleton Tennis Club is putting a bid together to apply for funding from Sport England to build a new pavilio

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