Wild boars wreck Forest of Dean football club pitch

By Karen FazackerleyBBC Sport
Soudley Football Club said they could not use the ground until the damage is fixed

Wild boars have caused havoc at the home ground of a non-league football club by tearing up the pitch twice in the space of one week.

Gloucester Northern Senior League side Soudley AFC is on the edge of the Forest of Dean and the club estimate the damage will cost more than £1,000.

It is now the third time the club have been hit with the troublesome boars.

"Our groundsman reckons it could be up until Christmas until the pitch is fit again," said club chairman Ian Marfell.

"We had a call from the local groundsman and he said the boars had been on and that it had been torn up pretty bad. So after work on Monday we went down and had a look and the pitch was in a terrible state. It was in a horrible mess.

"More have snuck back in since, after we'd done a lot of work to sort the damage the first time."

The boars managed to break through the fences surrounding the ground, leading into the Forest. Five years ago the club had to contend with the same problem but the damage was less severe.

"There was a boar expert down there the other day and he said they are creatures of habit. Because it's a cut field, they like it better so they get the worms and grubs and things like that," Marfell told BBC Sport. "They just like to get in there quickly and dig up what they are looking for."

Soudley are currently 13th in Division Twoexternal-link having won two of their nine matches, but the club have received offers of help from local teams, including league rivals Viney St Swithins.

Forest of Dean wild boar
Wild boar were deliberately reintroduced into Britain in the 1970s.

"We've had offers of help from other clubs if we need to and our first team can try and reverse fixtures. But our reserve team, who play in the North Gloucestershire League, have their fixtures released monthly, so the league can give us away games up until Christmas."

The club, whose players pay £5 to play per week, understand the nature of being surrounded by the Forest and Marfell concedes that "it could have happened to any club around here, but we're the unlucky ones this time.

"The players will go down and do as much as they can to fix it. It's been regarded as one of the best pitches in the Forest of Dean over the past 10 years so to see it churned up is a bit of a pain."

It is not the first time an animal has decided to interrupt sport.

In February 2012, a cat became the star attraction when it ran onto the Anfield pitch as Liverpool played out a goalless draw against Tottenham.

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