IT HAS been an on-field fairytale recently for Askern Villa after they reached the Northern Counties East League, the highest level in their history, and recently entered the FA Cup.
But, off the pitch, the last 12 months have been a nightmare as their Askern ground has been broken into four times - causing around £40,000 damage.
And after the latest round of vandalism, which saw a Portakabin containing kits, a PA system and other kitchen equipment burned down, the club face an uncertain future.
“In 2011 we suffered two break-ins within three days,” said David Hall, Villa’s secretary.
“The changing rooms were broken into, and the thieves ripped out all the copper piping and a four-foot copper water tank. We had to throw away all the carpeting in the dressing rooms, and we still haven’t replaced it in the home one.
“Later that year they stole scrap metal and some steps which we were going to fit to the main stand, which we can’t afford to replace.
“And this time, they burnt down our Portakabin so we’ve lost almost everything.”
David estimates the damage total to be between £35,000 and £40,000 - but admits that the sentimental costs amounts to much, much more.
“How do you put a price on the cost of the volunteers who have given up their free time to get the ground to where it is today, one of the best non-league grounds in Doncaster?” he added.
“I came very close to throwing in the towel and calling it a day, and I know Brian Johnston (Askern’s manager) felt the same way.
“But thankfully, some people in the local community are showing their concern, and we’ve had messages from within football.”
Former England midfielder Graham Rix has also contacted the club and Labour leader Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, recently visited Askern to survey the damage.
David added: “We have met with the Football Foundation regarding funding, and are looking at a total refurbishment of the sports pavilion in association with Askern Welfare Cricket Club. The Foundation will only fund 50% of any project, however - meaning Askern will have to raise the rest of the money.
“The league have been very understanding so far and thankfully the cricket club have offered their hospitality room for now.”