CHAMPIONSHIP-winning youth footballers have been left devastated after a callous burglar stole the professional kit they had enjoyed for just half a season.
Shirts for Kodak FC, who play and train at Kodak Sports Ground in Harrow View, disappeared along with alcohol in a shed break-in at coach Paul Whitehead's home in Talbot Road, Wealdstone, over the weekend.
Mr Whitehead (pictured left), site supervisor at Elmgrove Primary School and Nursery in Kenmore Avenue, Harrow, said: "I really can't believe somebody would take football kit. What would they do with them?
"We actuallt kept them here at home because we didn't want them lost by the players.
"I haven't even had the heart to tell the kids yet. They are going to be gutted.
"We only got the kit half way through the season and had only played 14 games in it - they were brand new and the players looked so good in them.
"The kids were chuffed because the under-14s B team, the under-13s A team, the under-11s and the under-10s all won their leagues."
The fence-scaling burglar forced his way into the outbuilding between Friday evening and Monday morning, when Mr Whitehead's wife Sue, the Harrow Youth League side's fixture secretary and welfare officer, discovered the theft.
Two sets of red and black Nike shirts, two sets of red and white shirts and two sets of yellow and black Nike shirts, in sizes ranging from adult to child and featuring the club's name on the chest and squad numbers on the back, were taken from holdalls that had been purposely zipped up afterwards.
It is believed the thief used the clothing to carry away 10 champagne bottles and three wine bottles being saved for a party in September to jointly celebrate the Whiteheads' 25th wedding anniversary and the diamond wedding anniversary of Mrs Whitehead's parents, who live next door.
The shirts, used by the 150 or so members of the under-8 to under-16 squads, were sponsored and bought by South Harrow firm Accident Claims Advice for £500 a set.
"We told the firm director's Carl Garner straight away. He was gutted," said Mr Whitehead.
"We're going on a football tour to Harrow's twin town of Douai in France this weekend and I've had to scrounge kit from Elmgrove School, and we've got a tournament next week and they're going to have to wear bibs.
"Every July we run a tournament with 180 teams to raise funds and all the profit from that will be wiped out if we need to replace the kit."
PC Derek Livingstone (pictured right), of Marlborough and Wealdstone Safer Neighbourhood Teams, said: "We hope the publicity might persuade the thieves to examine their conscience and return the kits.
"In recent weeks, we have seen several sheds, garages and outhouses broken into with power tools, alcohol, and food taken so please ensure you secure shed doors, close side gates, fit locks to garages and secure all garden tools and ladders."
n Anyone with information on the missing kit should call the police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.