by David Lems
"FOSSICKERS and graffiti artists leave us alone''.
That's the plea from Ipswich Vigoro Asociation officials who have reminded the general public their sports ground at East Ipswich is private property.
While the association doesn't mind people using the grounds for "respectful recreation'', they are upset at the way certain visitors have treated their playing fields and clubhouse.
"We have had a lot of issues at the grounds during the off season,'' highly-regarded Ipswich administrator Janet Savage said.
"Not only are we dealing with the usual graffiti and wilful damage to our clubhouse but a more serious issue has recently started occurring.
"It seems that our fields have become a hotspot for people fossicking and using their metal detectors on the fields.''
That may not sound serious but it is for a small association concerned about the welfare of players and the cost of fixing the damage.
"They are leaving significant holes which we are now going to have to fill in as player safety is an issue and could cause a serious injury,'' the Ipswich Vigoro Association vice-president said.
"These holes are not obvious at first glance but some are deep enough that a player could easily roll their ankle.
"We have to go and fill them all in now. It's really frustrating.''
Six weeks out from a new season, Mrs Savage said Ipswich Vigoro had owned the Joyce Street grounds for 87 years.
"A lot of the public are under the perception that the grounds are council owned,'' she said.
"We don't mind people walking through there or sometimes families kick a ball around . . . but it's when they disrespect our property, that's when we get pretty angry and the fact these girls can hurt themselves when they are playing.''
The Ipswich official said the association can't afford to fence in the facility to stop the illegal fossickers.
"Only three years ago, we had to level the main two fields and we also spent grant money last year on top dressing it . . . so it is very disheartening to have ignorant individuals damaging our grounds,'' she said.
She hoped people living in the East Ipswich area could alert officials or the police to people fossicking or damaging the property.
"We are self funded and run 99% by female volunteers and this issue is creating extra work for our little association,'' she said.
The new Ipswich vigoro season starts in October.