FOOTBALL teams have kicked off after a Helensburgh football pitch was declared unplayable only three weeks into the season.

Ardencaple’s 2006 team were supposed to play Pollok United at East King Street Park – but were told on Friday night by Argyll and Bute Council that the venue was closed.

That was despite the town having enjoyed a decent week of weather, and with dry conditions expected on the Saturday morning when the game was due to take place.

Wear and tear on the grass surface is being blamed, with teams training on it almost every night.

The situation was worsened because the all-weather training surface at Hermitage Academy was not available after being relaid during the summer break.

Euan Birss, who coaches the Caple 2006 team, said: “There are not many football pitches in the area and we could not book another one in the time we had.

“The Hermitage Academy pitch was relaid over the summer and they have not been able to lay the sand, as it needs three dry days to be usable.

“So that pitch has been out of commission, and a lot of teams have been using East King Street to train in the meantime.

“The council have been worried about overuse of the grass pitches as they have been getting used every night. If they say it’s unplayable, it’s unplayable.

“Our amateur team shares the navy pitch with Clyde Thistle, but our 2006 team can’t play there. Those are the terms of the agreement.

“There is a general lack of facilities in Helensburgh and the long-term problem at East King Street is the drainage. That’s more of a problem than one game being called off on one Saturday.”

Pollok United were equally frustrated by the late turn of events, posting on social media: “Week of preparation for tomorrow’s league game v Ardencaple in Helensburgh only to be told pitches closed by the council because they are unplayable.

“In this weather, why are my boys not playing tomorrow? This gig is hard enough without call-offs this early in the season.”

It is not unknown for football matches to be called off due to worn-out dry pitches – and it has recently happened at senior level.

Elgin City’s SPFL League Two fixture with Cowdenbeath was postponed on Saturday, August 25 due to exposed gravel from recent heat.

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “There is no problem with the drainage at the East King Street pitches. We closed the pitches following bad weather last week to allow them to recover.”