PILES of dog mess are making life miserable for young footballers in Abingdon.

Members of St Edmund’s Football Club, which is based at Boxhill Recreation Park, say they have to spend an hour before matches picking up dog muck before children can even kick a ball.

And staff from Abingdon Town Council say they may have to close the ground to dogs if owners do not clean up their act.

Club chairman Roger Bucknell said they usually filled two carrier bags of the mess each week.

He said: “Over the last year it has been getting worse and worse.

“We are spending about an hour before each game to try to it clear it up. And we are doing it with shovels now. We get opposition clubs turn up and the first thing they are doing is moaning because there is mess all over the pitch. It is getting worse and worse.”

He added: “I know there are not a lot of places you can walk your dog but it is the few that make a big problem for the masses.”

Club secretary and co-founder Geoff Young added: “It is making life very difficult for the managers who sometimes have to pick up 20 loads of dog poo before a game.

“A game had to be stopped last Sunday as they discovered there was still some on the pitch.”

The ground already has four dog bins. There are also three signs asking owners to keep dogs off the pitches.

About 150 children between six and 14 play on the large pitch and three mini pitches.

Steve Rich, technical manager at the town council, said more prominent signs would be put up.

He also said the town council would go to Vale of White Horse District Council to see if its dog wardens could prosecute offenders.

But he said it would be expensive to close off the area to dogs.

Alastair Fear, chairman of the town council’s amenities and recreation committee, said he was disgusted at the amount of dog mess being left.

He said: “Anyone can have an accident and not notice their dog has done something but some people just do not seem to care.”

He added: “This is a recurring issue and this time we are trying to make something of it.”