A FOOTBALL club for youngsters is counting the cost of a burglary after thieves stole its grass-cutting tractor.

Bosses at FC Redwing YFC, based at Barleylands Farm, Billericay, are now having to make contingency plans to borrow a tractor to ensure they can cut the grass and get matches played.

Derek Maslen, a club committee member, said: “We had a football tournament on Saturday and when we left the tractor was locked away in the shipping container at the ground.

“But, on Sunday morning when we came back, all four locks had been ground off and the tractor had gone.

“They even cut the roof off, probably to get it loaded on to a lorry.

“It wasn’t insured because we couldn’t afford the cost, but we helped other clubs by using it to cut their grass.

“It’s a nightmare because we just about cover our running costs and we don’t need this.”

FC Redwing runs a free football tournament for youngsters aged between four and seven, then league football for seven to 18-year-olds.

Police are probing the theft of the blue New Holland tractor, worth £3,500, which happened between 6.15pm on Saturday and 8am the next morning.

Witnesses can contact police at Basildon on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.