There are many things to celebrate in Mardy Football Club this season. Most notable is that the first team remain unbeaten in the league and that junior teams are being set up in age groups including an under 9s, under 10s and under 14s.
While this is a wholly positive venture, this has put a strain on the club’s finances as they strive to improve and update the facilities to make it as safe and comfortable for the people taking part.
An example of this is their efforts to hire floodlit training facilities during the winter. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, money has been spent on the erection of lighting at Mardy Park, adjacent to the community, which allows the junior section to train outdoors when the weather permits.
However, this has been met by another obstacle. Prior to their first training session, it was discovered that it would be too dangerous for the area to be used due to a huge amount of uncollected dog mess – presenting a serious health hazard to young children in particular, if they were to come into contact with it.
The situation has also proven to be problem for the adjoining Ysgol Gymraeg y Fenni, which uses the grounds for sports days.
Upon the growing issues, local Community Councillor and Mardy football supporter Clive Harry said “It’s very disappointing that the vast majority of responsible dog owners can become associated with those who simply can’t be bothered to pick up after exercising their animals. It’s a problem that seems to have got worse since lockdown and despite the football pitch being surrounded by a fence with gates at either end, it still has to be inspected before games to remove any deposits left behind.”
He commented on how they have worked to solve this, “Signs have been put on the gates in the past asking dog owners not to use the playing surface for exercising dogs but these were vandalised and eventually torn down. The bolts on the gates have also been damaged to make entry easier”.
Difficulties have also been experienced by people watching games outside the fenced area such as by a football fan who recently travelled from the Pontypool area with his son to watch a game. Sadly, both left early because the youngster went for a run around and came back with his shoes and lower leg contaminated by dog waste.
This has been a problem that expands far beyond the park, effecting Abergavenny as a whole.
County Councillor, Su McConnel has been working alongside Llantilio Pertholey Community Council to tackle this issue. She said, “the County Council campaign ‘Dog Poo, Anything Will Do’ encourages people to dump their waste in a bin, no matter if it is not specifically for dog waste. As a dog owner myself, I do not understand how people do not carry bags with them. The County Council is now considering a proposal to restrict dog walkers from letting their dog off the lead in certain areas, such as sports grounds.”