Football team appeal after arson attack on pavilion

South Wingfield Sports Ground Fire. L-r,  Paul Fox and  Rob Else (Football club members).
South Wingfield Sports Ground Fire. L-r, Paul Fox and Rob Else (Football club members).

TWO FOOTBALL teams whose pavilion was destroyed in an arson attack are appealing for help to replace equipment lost in the blaze.

The wooden pavilion on Holme Lane, in South Wingfield, was set on fire in the early hours of Sunday morning and the charred remains were discovered by members of AFC South Wingfield 93 and AFC Alfreton U14s.

Firefighters from Alfreton, Crich and Ripley were called to the scene at 2.25am, but were unable to save the wooden structure, which was set up by the father and son founders of the South Wingfield side, Jim and Robert Else.

Robert’s wife Michelle said: “It’s dreadful. It’s heart-rending. We went down on Sunday morning to mark the field out and the pavillion was just devastated. We couldn’t believe it. All that was left was a huge pile of ashes and the corrugated metal roof.”

Jim, 62, said: “To see all that work gone is devastating. We don’t get grants or sponsorship – it’s just fundraising that’s built it and it’s a struggle to maintain that. Kids go down there in the summer time and kick a ball about. It’s just a facility for the community that will be lost if we don’t resurrect it.”

The wooden structure, which measured 15 metres by four metres, included changing rooms, a storage area and toilet facilities. Robert and Jim moved the pavilion, which was originally built in the 1960s, from Rowsley, via Wessington, in sections in 1993. Last summer Robert, who acts as groundman and club secretary as well as manager, lost half a finger in a lawn-mower accident while mowing the pitch. The team is currently second in the Alfreton Sunday League after a successful season last year.

“It was only made of wood but it was fantastic really,” said Michelle. “Everything was in there – nets, balls, kit, medical equipment, even the mower. We want to appeal for help. If anyone’s got anything to donate – we need everything really. We had the game on Sunday – my husband spent two hours on the phone borrowing things. Everyone rallied around. But it’s gutting.”

Paul Fox, manager of AFC Alfreton U14s, said: “We haven’t even got a match ball for next Sunday. We have two games to go for the season and now we have to find an alternative pitch. It is open down there and subject to vandalism. I can’t get my head around why anyone would set fire to it.”

If you would like to donate please contact Michelle on 07860562851 orPaul on 07949859719. Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 0345 123 3333.