THE Albion Park-Oak Flats Junior Rugby League club has been left dismayed after recent vandalism left a number of fields at the Croome Regional Sporting Complex unusable.
Several cars were driven on the fields overnight on Thursday, April 3, causing deep ruts and large areas of turf to be torn up. The damage was made worse by recent wet weather.
"It's just really disappointing, I mean, what does somebody get out of this?" APOF Junior Rugby League club president Jason Stoker said.
"You really have to wonder why somebody would target somewhere that is used by kids.
"All they've done is make sure that the kids miss out on being able to train and play on the fields."
Similar damage has been done to other grounds in the area, including the Albion Park Showground, which has led to concerns that the perpetrators have a key to the ambulance gates at the grounds.
"I came down on the Friday morning to have a look at the ground and there were tracks that led to the gate used by the ambulances if they need to get on the field," Mr Stoker said.
"I checked that council hadn't left the gate open and I checked that nobody from the club had left it open after training on Thursday. So we're wondering if somebody's got their hands on one of the master keys, because that would explain how they got on to the Showground as well."
The club was especially disappointed by the vandalism after the work done by members of the committee to prepare the fields for the new season.
"It's devastating, we had the fields looking the best they had for five years or so," APOF Junior Rugby League club grounds manager Paul Till said.
"Personally I've put in countless hours fixing them up this year, so it really hurts."
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said that vandalism such as this was an issue for all residents.
"This is just a completely unnecessary act and it's not only the people who use these fields who are affected. Acts like this cost every ratepayer in Shellharbour."
Anybody with information can contact Lake Illawarra Police on 4232 5599.