Last weekend (9/10th March) a group of idiot vandals decided to cut through the outer perimeter of East Thurrock United’s ground in Corringham and smash up the team benches on the youth pitch: Vandals strike at football club – latest in a series of attacks on youth football. As we’ve written before, East Thurrock United (a.k.a. the Rocks) are a community focused non-league club who are about a heck of a lot more than the first team – they run a range of youth and women’s sides as well.

Pretty much everything the club does is done with the help of volunteers from the local community. So, the idiots who smashed up the team benches at East Thurrock United effectively launched an attack on their own community. In difficult times, it’s clubs like the Rocks and resident run parks such as Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope that help to provide the glue that binds the community together.

Anyway, with the volunteers and fans at the Rocks being who they are, as you can see from the above image, the damage was swiftly repaired: Volunteers turn negative into positive after club vandal attack. Whatever, the nihilistic minority mistakenly choose to do, their efforts at disrupting the life of the community will not succeed because there will always be people willing to step up to the plate to put things right.

When we bang on about the need to build neighbourhood solidarity and cohesion, it’s the actions of those who gave up their spare time and donated the money and materials to carry out the repairs who give a practical expression to this. It’s this community spirit and willingness to give time for a worthy cause that gives us a sense of optimism about getting through the difficult times to come.