a COACH of a league-winning Galashiels football team has called for the annual shows to be relocated elsewhere in the town after their pitch was turned into a muddy bog, writes Kenny Paterson.
Fred Blackie of Border Amateur side Gala Hotspur has been left gutted by the state of the Public Park.
The ongoing wet weather meant the soft surface was churned up by the caravans and huge lorries – which carry the numerous stalls and rides – as they left the council-owned site on Sunday night.
The park had already been turned almost completely to mud by the previous afternoon, with families saying wellington boots were a necessity to make your way round the funfair.
A council tractor was spotted trying to flatten the Public Park following the shows’ departure, but the pitch has been similarly ruined in the past and Mr Blackie fears his Division C-winning side could be left homeless for the foreseeable future.
He also believes the shows should be moved to Scott Park, which sits alongside Galashiels Academy.
Mr Blackie told TheSouthern: “It is absolutely ridiculous – it happens every year and must cost the council a fortune to repair so it is in a fit state for playing football.
“You saw what happened at Innerleithen. The shows ruined Leithen Rovers’ pitch and they could not play on it for a year.
“It was probably worse than this a couple of years ago, but this year is still really bad. The pitch was looking great at the end of the season as we had a number of away games. I can’t see it being ready for the start of the new season.
“We have never heard anything from the council regarding the cost, but it must be in the thousands.
“What I cannot understand is why the shows do not go to Scott Park.
“It is not used by any sports teams so there is not such a need to repair it and is the centre of town, so it would be perfect location.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said it was open to suggestions from groups in the town as to where the shows could be relocated to.
He added: “We are currently assessing the park and will decide as soon as possible what action is needed to repair the pitch.
“Every effort will be made to make the park playable in time for the start of the Border Amateur Football League season.
“A fee is paid for rental of the park and as part of the agreement with the funfair operator, if there is damage to the park they will cover the cost of the repairs.”
Galashiels Community Council chairman Ian Purvis said the damage to the Public Park would be discussed at tonight’s (Thursday) Gala In Bloom meeting.
Previous pitch problems have included Hay Lodge Park in Peebles, after the surface was damaged following the town’s agricultural show last year.