Burglars forced their way in to a community sports centre and stole funds from a junior rugby team.
The thieves smashed through a fire door at the back of Lock Lane Rugby League Club and Sports Centre and took cash from the building’s office and reception area.
The money had been raised by parents and sponsors of the junior rugby teams and was to be invested back into providing and maintaining sports facilities for the youngsters, aged seven to 17, and the local community.
Mick Wildey, rugby club chairman, said: “It is going to be hard work to replace our losses, funds that should have gone towards upkeep of a local club and providing facilities for local kids and the community alike.
“At a not-for-profit club like ours most of the work is done by unpaid volunteers, then someone comes along and does this.
“I just don’t understand how heartless some people can be.”
Manager Derry Barnes said the club and sports centre would now need to pay for repairs to the damaged building.
And he said the theft had put plans to renovate the changing areas on hold.
“Some of the money had been earmarked to revamp our changing and shower facilities,” he said.
“That has gone out the window now. We don’t know how long it will take us to get back to the stage where we have enough money to that.”
The rugby club had recently made history by becoming the first amateur club to make it through to the final 24 of the Challenge Cup.
Mr Barnes said: “It is really upsetting, especially when on one hand we have just made rugby league history and on the other hand we are now having to deal with the implications of this break in. It has made me feel sick.
“There’s a lot of people that use these facilities and we have a lot of volunteers who do a lot of work for nothing.
“It is a big kick in the teeth for them after giving up their time to have this happen.”
Police said they were called to reports of a burglary at the club on Saturday, March 26 at 8.30pm.
Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information about the theft is asked to call police on 101.