A youth football club has been left counting the cost after a suspected arson attack destroyed vital equipment.
Bosses at Clayton Park Rangers FC said they are ‘devastated and hugely disappointed’ after the garage used to store hundreds of pounds worth of equipment was burnt to the ground.
The incident on Chequers in Clayton-le-Moors happened at around 7.40pm on Sunday, October 22, and is being treated as ‘suspicious’ by police.
The club, which has been running for 13 years, has now launched an online fundraising appeal.
Michael Forshaw, club chairman, said the garage had been in his family for decades and contained footballs, bibs, cones and 7v7 nets for the club.
The 42-year-old, from Clayton-le-Moors, told the Observer: “When I got there it had all gone up in smoke in about 10 minutes. I was devastated. It was a lot of money that went up.
“I’m mad about what happened because of what they have taken away from our kids. We will just have to crack on with it and start again.
“The response we’ve had has been absolutely incredible. I didn’t think that many people knew what we were about in Clayton but the response is amazing.”
Gareth Cross, who is secretary of the club and the Accrington & District Junior Football League, said they wanted to raise £800 to replace the lost training equipment and to buy a new storage shed.
Nearly £900 has already been pledged, including a £500 donation from the Lancashire FA.
Gareth said: “The majority of the club’s training equipment which we have built up over the past 13 years has been lost due to this mindless act.
“As you can imagine everyone to do with the club is devastated and hugely disappointed that someone could do something like this.
"As we are a small community volunteer-run grassroots football club, we simply don’t have the funds available to replace all that we have lost.”
Roger De Nobrega, chief executive of the Lancashire FA, posted on a JustGiving site: "We hope this money donated by Lancashire Football Association will help the children, adults and volunteers at Clayton Park Rangers FC get back to playing as soon as possible."
Two fire crews from Hyndburn were called to the incident and firefighters spent around an hour tackling the blaze. No injuries were reported and an investigation has been launched.
Lancashire Police said they are treating the incident as ‘suspicious’ and no arrests have been made.
To donate to the appeal visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/clayton-park-rangers-fc .
Anyone interested in joining the club email firstname.lastname@example.org.