Region's soccer stars defy vandals at Thistles grounds
LISMORE Thistles players and other FNC football stars united to defy hoons and give senseless vandalism the red card.
Despite boggy conditions, Thistles staged Football FNC matches at its Military Road playing fields on Saturday - a week after the pitch was left badly damaged by hoodlums driving cars on the track.
Players from across the region in junior and men's competitions played matches on the fields, which was usable after dedicated volunteers and club staff helped repair the badly gouged turf.
Amy Fairfull, coach of the club's mixed-14 Second Division side - one of the teams in action - said it was great matches went ahead.
"It is nice to see players out there," she said.
"It was a lot of hard work repairing the pitches. We had to spend all last Sunday piling sand and filling in cracks on the pitch.
"We were really angry and it is so frustrating that this can happen."
The Lismore club has been left with an estimated $10,000 repair bill after the vandalism, which is thought to have occurred last Saturday night.
Tyre marks were left across the playing field in the incident - at least the third time in 18 months that Thistles has been targeted in this manner.
Fairfull said she was especially delighted that the club's junior players had not been prevented from enjoying their weekly match.
"It was great to see the kids out there," she said. "For me, it is great to see them improve, grow as players and have fun as well.
"It is quite disappointing to think the people who caused this damage are in our community.
"What message do I have for them? Stay away from our club."