Mindless thieves have caused hundreds of pounds of damage and stolen vital equipment from Leyland Warriors after targeting containers at their new clubhouse.

Volunteers said they are ‘angry’ and ‘heartbroken’ after criminals forced their way into the temporary buildings – even sinking as low as to steal tyres from wheelchairs used by their disabled players.

The incident comes not even a year after the new modular was craned into the Malt Kiln Fold site as part of £330,000 of improvements there.

The project, led by South Ribble Borough Council’s Leyland My Neighbourhood Forum, also saw the creation of a bridleway at the former Moss Side Playing Fields as well as a multi-use track and two extra pitches for the rugby club to use.

Club chairman, Phil Roberts said: “Having worked so hard with the council to develop this site and provide top class facilities for our children, it is heartbreaking when something like this happens.

"The club is run purely by volunteers who rely on membership subscription and sponsorship to survive, so to even just repair the damage and replace what was stolen will be a massive drain on our resources.”

As well as the tyres, thieves stole cash, refreshments sold to generate revenue for the club and even medals and trophies used for schoolchildren.

Councillor Phil Smith, South Ribble Borough Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Regeneration and Leisure, said: “It is utterly deplorable and sickening that anyone could target the club in this way.

"The volunteers have worked tirelessly to encourage more than 400 children into the sport and have truly put their all into transforming the site with the impressive new clubhouse.

"We have invested heavily in the area and worked hard to make it somewhere that can be enjoyed by the whole community and I’m utterly disgusted by this moronic act.

“We are in close contact with the club to offer them any help that they may need.”

Supporters have now launched a fundraising drive to replace the stolen items and step-up security at the site.

Sharron Sumner, whose five boys play for the club has created a GoFundMe webpage, she said: “We are all angry and disgusted at what’s happened as the coaches work so hard and have given so much to the community.

"We all need to rally around now as we don’t want the children to suffer because of mindless thieves.”

To support the drive, visit: www.gofundme.com/3cwstjv8.