A story of light relief - but not if you are footballers accused of having a pee on the village allotments!

Joseph Bulmer

After all the recent stories about regeneration and government investment I thought you may welcome a little light relief this week. Mind you, if you are members of Abbotskerswell Football Club there is nothing funny about this - and relief is the last  thing they would want to talk about.

After between 30 and 40 years playing in the village they have been booted off the local playing field by Abbotskerswell Parish Council who have cited a number of reasons for their shock decision, including players peeing in the adjacent allotments.

It is an accusation the footballers strongly deny by the way but it looks as if there is no going back and they are now playing their South Devon League games and sharing a ground with Watcombe Wanderers at Milber.

The decision to axe the club was announced on the council's website and confirmed: "After many complaints from parishioners over bad behaviour and parking issues in our congested village, Abbotskerswell PC has given immediate notice to Abbotskerswell Football Club and has locked the gate to the playing field.

"Support for sport and play has always been foremost in the council’s mind and facilities in the playpark, multi use games area and skatepark have been upgraded at a cost of over £80,000 in the last few years. The council have been delighted with the uptake of these facilities, extensively used by children and families.

"After discussions with the football club a year ago, the parish council set out some written ground rules to which the club agreed. These included monthly payment of fees, behaviour and parking issues. No fees have been paid since this agreement was signed. The club were given keys to the pavilion toilets but players were still relieving themselves in the allotments, much to the consternation of the allotment holders.

"Parking on the grassed play area where children play basketball and football still continued and residents had to witness foul language and blocking of pavements and drives. It transpires that there are few, if any locals that played for the football club."

The council adds: "The playing field and the pavilion will be repurposed for community benefit and the toilets have already been opened at the pavilion for public use. This latter decision has been greeted with great glee from the locals."

Options are now being looked at regarding the future of the pitch and pavilion.

The chairman of the council has not been available although the clerk pointed me in her direction.

Evidently, the late chairman of the football club used to sit on the council and relations were healthier.

The club had a feeling something was afoot but the speed of the decision to boot them out shocked them.

Fixture secretary Andrew Despard said the council met on the Monday  and the club received a letter on the Wednesday.

He added: ""I knew they had it in for us but we did not expect that. I always thought they were going to do the dirty on us. There had been history in the past."

He said the club started as a Sunday side in the late 80s, but claimed: "The parish is totally different now. They are all NIMBYs."

He also claimed: ""With the allotments issue it was the away team. We got the blame for that. It is a public park. We cannot stop spectators. We could not stop the away team bringing people there."

Secretary Mike Rendell said: "I do not think they want a football team. They have accused us of a number of things like bad language. It is not as bas as they make out. One of the biggest arguments is that 99 per cent of the players do not live in Abbotskerswell."

He pointed to the demographics and more mature make up of the village and added: "It does not stop them getting involved and bringing their grandchildren."

He was saddened: "For me a village is a pub, a church, a school and a cricket and football team. That's defines an idyllic village."

Not in Abbotskerswell any more!