A CRISIS-HIT football club is facing a bleak future after a series of vandal attacks caused around £1,500 worth of damage.

Police and club members are appealing to residents living near Annfield Plain football club to report anything or anyone suspicious at the Derwent Park ground.

In recent weeks youths have torn two gaping holes in the newly-laid clubhouse roof, causing rain to ruin flooring and club photographs, some dating back to the Twenties. Thugs also dropped broken bottles on to the pitch.

In 1991 a similar attack reduced the club's north stand, which was built with volunteer help and had stood for 50 years, to a pile of ash and timber after it was set alight.

And two years ago a nearly-built stand almost suffered the same fate when youngsters set fire to the woodwork.

A club spokesman said: "This is not the first time we have been victims of a vandalism attack. Throughout last season we were subject to numerous break-ins, leaving us with no option but to remove all equipment and valuables out of the clubhouse.

"We have had meetings with Derwentside police but still the attacks come and are becoming a weekly occurrence. We don't have the finances to cope with these mindless attacks."

Det Con Shaun Bailey said he suspected a gang of teenagers who regularly congregate nearby were responsible. He said: "A large group of teenage boys and girls do gather and drink cider and generally cause a nuisance.

"We believe some of the group also climb into the ground, which is fenced off, and cause damage.

"We are stepping up patrols in the area but we need help from the public."

Anyone who sees anything suspicious should call Stanley police on (01207) 232144.