Monday, 10 October 2011

Why football in our street is a balls up

Why football in our street is a balls up and Christmas on Bonfire Night

It's pouring down but my son is out playing football with his friends. He loves it, he sometimes even forgets to come for lunch and, eventually, turns up shivering and exhausted.

This weekend the kids organised themselves into a tournament with goalposts set up in the street between the Ford and the Skoda.

The few cars that passed had to pause while the kids shifted their game to the pavement.

So far so commonplace, but on the other side of the pavement is a glorious patch of flat public grass where no one plays.

It's not because there is a fence our wall keeping children of the grass, nor does it belong to someone else. No. it's because there's a sign at the far end saying "NO BALL GAMES".

I'm really not sure what authority the notice is backed by, it doesn't say. The ones about dog poo helpfully tell you which bylaw dictates the collecting of faeces.

But I do know that any infringement of this is vigorously greeted by the grumpy chap who lives at the corner. I do understand that he might not want hoards of ballchasing children hurtling through his immaculate garden, but I'm sure that could be avoided.

Much as it cheers my heart to see the local children playing together, I am bewildered by the non sense of the vacant grass unplayed upon.

Now before you suggest that I find someone in the council to ask about it, let me tell you about their latest slice of genius.

Renfrewshire Council are switching the Christmas lights on in early November - November 5 to be exact. They have decided to combine the festive with the bonfire night municipal jollities as a cost-cutting endeavour.

So I'm imagining Santa on the bonfire as fireworks crash in time to jingle bells and tinsel on the toffee apples.

Is it me...


  1. Why not get together with all the neighbours, put some money together for a fence all the way around that fab patch of grass. Then the ball will not escape and no-one in the houses next to the grass can really complain? Or ask the council to help: Surely they have a budget for improving the health of youngsters.. and this is one cheap way to tick a box or two. It's such a shame as I can remember playing football on any available piece of grassland as a kid with very little objection.. except when i kicked a ball for goal and it missed and smashed a house window. Ooops!

  2. We have several bits of grass around the housing estates which have no ball games. It's ridiculous, where do they want them to play? x

  3. When I see a sign that says 'No Ball Games' I just want to grab a football and kick it. Just as well children show more restraint!

  4. Fiona, that's quite a good idea. Although imagine the council red-tape that would involve, planning permission etc.

    Susan, It's daft. Maybe we should mount a campaign to allow kids to play on available green spaces again.

    Rosie, They only show restraint because they'll get shouted at by the grumpy chap.

  5. "No ball game" signs make me so angry! Kids would cause much more damage using cars as goal posts than they would damaging precious grass!

    These grumpy old men need to pull their heads from their backsides and remember that they were kids once.

  6. Try being on the receiving end! My life is hell with balls being kicked against my house! I am left desperately depressed!

  7. Anon, I'm sure it can be miserable. Have you tried talking to the kids?

  8. As an ex-neighbour may i make a couple of points:

    1 - The ground is NOT public or council owned. It is private land jointly owned by the 6 houses that face on to it. This is in the title deeds.

    2- The no ball games sign was put up by the developers when the estate was built for whatever reason, and is listed as a restrictive covenant in the title deeds (along with some other random things).

    3 - Kids did play football on it for years and there was no problem until a few years ago until some older kids started playing games on it and several neighbours had their fences and windows damaged, along with the shouting, swearing, and fighting that carried on past midnight some weekends. After this many of the neighbours decided that it had to stop.

    4- Renfrewshire Council spent in the region of £25,000 renovating Ranfurly Park (aka the glen) a few years ago. This is under 200 yards away and has huge open spaces designed as an amenity for all the kids in the area. Even closer to home there is approximately 50 acres of undeveloped fields within 50 yards of the houses. Bridge of Weir is a safe and quiet village (especially where you stay); there is no reason why the kids cant use any of these spaces.

    5- Footballs in the neighbours gardens arn`t much of a problem, its the damage caused by running through the gardens and bushes and the verbal abuse that cause the problems. From my experience your kids were the polite and did apologise and ask to get the ball back however many others didn`t and unfortunately all the kids get tarred with the same brush. Given that 4 of the residents (that i know about) have called the police recently about damaged property should tell you that it is a bit of a problem and not just one neighbour (even if he is a grumpy old git).

    From a personal perspective i wasn`t really bothered what the kids got up to however I recently bought a new car and within 25 minutes of it being parked outside there was a football bounced off it putting a dent in the back passenger door. This is the third car in a row that i had had damaged by footballs including the blue bmw convertible that was wrecked by a kid (not one of yours) climbing on to the canvas roof to retrieve a ball and breaking the roof supports.

    Nobody wishes to go back to the days where kids were seen and not heard (and god knows our national team needs some new talent), people just want to get on with their lives without waking up every day to find something else damaged or broken in their property.


  9. Hi Jerry,
    Thanks for your comment, you make some interesting points.

    I didn't know the land belongs to the houses that bound it. I presumed that because the council cuts the grass that it belongs to them.
    Perhaps not an unreasonable assumption given that the council seem very unwilling to take any responsibility for anything not belonging to them - I'm thinking about the pavements here. Although this is an issue for another day.

    The no ball games sign was erected by the council some seven or so years ago. I know, because I watched them do it. I've lived in my house for nearly a decade and there wasn't a sign there for the first couple of years. I don't deny the developers may have put a sign up in the first place, but there certainly wasn't one there when I moved in with my kids.

    I'm sorry that kids playing on the grass abused the privilege. It is very sad that a few spoil it for the rest. Perhaps there's a way back...

    I know the Glen is refurbished. It's a fantastic facility and we use it several times a week. However, for me it's too far away and the other side of a road where people drive too quickly for me to let my kids go there on their own. I do walk with them quite often, but not enough to satisfy their desire to play endless football. Equally, none of the ground there is flat,

    I'm not sure which undeveloped fields you mean. Do you mean the farmland? I know there is no law of tresspass in Scotland, I certainly wouldn't encourage my kids to play football in farmland. As far as I can see most of it is used for livestock. Having been brought up on a farm, I know playing sports on farmers' fields is not acceptable. If it's somewhere else you have in mind, please tell me where so I can send the kids there.

    I didn't know about police being called over damage. I'm not disputing it, but as my kids are out playing football quite often, i would like to know. Particularly if they might be responsible. Obviously if my children caused damage I would expect to put it right.

    Equally, if my children were abusive, offensive in any way, I'd want to know about it in order that I can ensure it doesn't happen again. In the past, I've had to go out with them while they went to someone's door to ask for a ball back because they were too scared to go on their own.

    That is unfortunate about your car. I do see that playing in the street can cause damage to cars, although most of the houses in our road have garages and off-road parking spaces.

    I would like to see some kind of compromise that takes into account the benefit to kids of playing football with their mates (surely better than sitting on a sofa for hours), keeping them safe from traffic, teaching them respect for other people and property and not unduly annoying other people or causing damage. Surely it's not too much to ask.


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