Youngsters appeal after arson attack

A FOOTBALL club for youngsters is appealing for help after arsonists burnt their changing rooms to the ground in Shipley.

Two wooden changing rooms and a metal equipment lock-up used by Heanor Lions Football Club were destroyed in the blaze at Pit Lane on Saturday May 19.

Police say the alarm was raised at around 5.20pm after two people were seen running away from the pitch near the former American Adventure theme park.

Chairman Neil Martin said the attack happened a day after the under 18 side celebrated rising from Division 2 to Division 1 of the Derby City Football League.

He said: “I am gutted. More so for the lads. If you don’t have any facilities you can’t register for the league and you can’t play competitively.

“The vandals need locking up. They have got nothing better to do.

“At the moment we’re wondering how we’re going to get it cleaned up.”

The blaze drew fire crews from Ilkeston and Heanor who used one hose reel jet and one mainline to extinguish the flames.

They spent 30 minutes damping down the ruins. Both wooden cabins were burnt to the ground and all the equipment in the metal lock up - including corner flags, nets and balls - was destroyed by the intense heat.

The club recently secured £2,000 from British Coal to upgrade facilities, but the cost of replacing what was lost in the blaze is estimated to be in the region of £4,500.

Mr Martin, of Codnor-Denby Lane in Codnor, said: “Over the last year people have been vandalising sporadically - kicking down signs and things like that. That’s why we got the funding to upgrade. We need vandal-proof stuff.”

He is now appealing for anyone who has information about the fire to contact police. He is also hoping to get help in the way of equipment to help the club get back on its feet.

The club was formed in 2004 and has around 40 players in two teams. The under 18 side meets on Monday night at 6.30pm until 8pm and the under 13 side meets at the same time on Tuesday. Mr Martin said the club was formed “to keep the kids off the street and give them a sense of purpose.”

Last Friday, the under 18s side attended a presentation event to mark them rising from Division 2 to Division 1of the Derby City Football League.

If you can help the club, please contact Mr Martin on 07966365078.