12:00pm Tuesday 11th May 2004
Organised football matches on a seafront lawn are to be shown the red card.
Hundreds of people get together for kickabouts on Brunswick Lawns in Hove every summer and teams from as far away as Crawley regularly take part in organised matches.
But councillors and people living nearby have campaigned for years to get the games banned because they break local bylaws.
Now police and Brighton and Hove City Council's seafront officers plan to call full time on the matches.
Sergeant Richard Delacour, of Hove police, said: "There have been a number of incidents which have resulted in people being injured by footballs.
"A woman was knocked unconscious and a baby was hit by a football after it landed in its pram.
"There have also been a number of accidents caused when footballs are kicked into traffic on the main coast road.
"We do not want to be killjoys and stop dads kicking a ball about with their young children.
"However, the large games which take place there at the weekends have got to stop."
Mr Delacour said organised ball games, including cricket and hockey, were banned under the Public Health Act 1875.
Police community support officers and the council's seafront officers will speak to players taking part in organised games during the next few weekends.
After that, organisers could face fines or prosecution if they continue to play on the lawns.
Paul Elgood, Liberal Democrat councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide, said: "It is a relief that after dealing with so many complaints about this problem over the years action is finally being taken.
"The lawns have been left in a poor state as a result of the organised games and some of the neighbouring beach huts have also been damaged."
Max Reinhardt, manager of Hove Lawns FC, said: "The club started four years ago from a group of us going down there every Sunday.
"The same group of lads has been together all that time and they will be gutted if we can no longer go there for a kick-about."
A council spokesman said: "A small minority are spoiling things for the majority and damaging the lawns at the same time."
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