The future of a popular Doncaster cricket club was put in jeopardy after arsonists torched the pavilion, forcing a home match to be cancelled.
But today Adwick-le-Street Cricket Club is battling back with community support – and officials are refusing to be beaten.
Volunteers and members at Adwick-le-Street Cricket Club were left devastated by the blaze which destroyed the kitchen and changing facilities at the ground on Thursday night. The fire meant last weekend’s game against Fishlake had to be called off. The club expects to have to miss at least four or five games as a result of the blaze.
The club, in Adwick Park, was first established in 1921 and members are appealing for urgent help to ensure it can continue.
Club chairman John Muldowney said the club has become a regular target for vandals but this is the worst incident in the club’s history..
He added: “We are all absolutely distraught. It’s a real family club. Our facilities may be basic but the spirit here is fantastic.”
“We have been working to improve the facilities year on year and for something like this to happen is devastating.
“We are begging any local business or anyone in the community who can help us out in the short term to get in touch.”
The fire was already out when the discovery was made around 7am on Friday when a volunteer came to open up.
Mr Muldowney said: “Walking around and looking at the damage we were all speechless. It makes you think ‘How can we carry on?’ but we won’t give up.
“We had three teams ready to play but we had to cancel this weekend’s home match.
“We were making plans to have a new pavilion in the future but in the short term we need help to carry on.”
The attack is not the first time the club has been targeted by vandals.
“It happens all the time. About once every fortnight we have some problem with vandalism. We’ve had the roof broken and all sorts,” said Mr Muldowney.
He said mobile buildings could be used as a short term fix to enable matches to continue and urged anyone who may be able to provide them to get in touch.
Yesterday, the club had received support from cricket clubs across the region, as well as Doncaster Council.
Club treasurer Paul Bishop said they had seen organisers including Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the English Cricket Board offer support, with Yorkshire pledging money to the club.
He said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support. The cricketing community has been donating money, and we’ve had practical support from Doncaster Council.
“It renews your faith in humanity when you see the help people are offering.”
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said investigations were under way but it is believed the fire was started deliberately.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said “It was reported that substantial damage had been caused at the facility off Adwick Park, Windmill Balk Lane, sometime overnight between 9pm on Thursday and 6.30am on Friday.
“The fire is being treated as arson.”
* Anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious is asked to contact police on 101 quoting incident 88 of April 22 2016. Anyone who can help the club is urged to contact 07412 136985