A NON-LEAGUE football club has been “kicked in the teeth” after robbers broke into their ground to steal a key piece of maintenance equipment.

Ringwood Town Football Club had a pitch lawnmower stolen from their home in Long Lane earlier this month.

CCTV from shortly before 5am on January 3 showed the culprits completing the theft of the Toro 3100 triple cylinder machine, worth around £4,000, in just 15 minutes.

The equipment had been acquired by the club, whose first team play in Wessex League, through fundraising and a grant from the Football Foundation.

Phil King, Ringwood Town chairman, said the crime had affected every one of the 400 players who represent the club across various age groups.

“I was completely disheartened and disappointed when I found out what happened,” said Mr King. “We all volunteer and when you see what they did it is a huge kick in the teeth for everyone.

“They were in and out in 15 minutes. They knew what they were after. Clearly we must have had people on site scanning the joint before this happened - that is the upsetting bit about it as well.

“We are running teams for kids and these people clearly have no regard or consideration for what we do or what any club does for the community.

“The people who did this were completely brazen and uncaring.”

The club is hoping to replace the lawnmower through their insurers but are facing intermediary costs to keep the pitches playable for their 29 teams.

A fundraising page to help with these costs has been set up online, with a target of £750, while clubs from around the area offered messages of support.

“The response has been tremendous,” said Mr King. “It has been really heartwarming for us. We do what we do for the love of the game and this shows the spirit of football.”

Hampshire Police are investigating the theft of the lawnmower. Anyone with information should contact them on 101 quoting reference number 44200002922.