Junior football club aims for victory over arsonists
Published on: 30 May 2017
LEADERS of Emersons Green Junior Football Club have vowed to make sure the club rises from the ashes following a devastating fire at their headquarters.
Arsonists are thought to have started the blaze at the clubhouse on the club’s ground in Blackhorse Lane, which destroyed the boiler room and damaged electrics, water supply and pipework in the building.
Club chairman Paul Thomas said it appeared the culprits had planned the attack, disabling the CCTV cameras outside the building and breaking a kitchen window.
Mr Thomas said: “The boiler room inside the Emersons Green JFC club house was broken into and set on fire. This building is attached to the side of the club house, but luckily the fire was put out by the fire brigade before it could spread further.
“In the last few months, there have been constant problems around the playing fields, with fires being set on the pitches and vandalism and graffiti around the grounds. Our large sign at the entrance of the ground welcoming people to the club was also smashed down.”
Police have told Mr Thomas they do not have enough evidence to press charges over the fire but have asked local people to report any suspicious or anti-social behaviour by calling 101.
Parents and coaches rallied round to clean up after the fire on April 30 and local businesses helped with repairing the lights and restoring the CCTV.
Major repairs are needed, which will mainly be funded by insurance, but the latest incident has encouraged the club to consider a more extensive refurbishment of the old clubhouse, which was inherited from Cadbury Heath FC.
Mr Thomas said: “The club is looking at raising money to firstly update and decorate the existing facilities, that haven't been changed for a long time, and possibly extend the clubhouse. This would create a hall space so we can do more for the community by creating a possible youth club, where we can help get children off the streets into a safe environment.”
James Cullen, a parent and coach, has already set up a crowdfunding page with the aim of raising £10,000.
He explained: “We are a growing grassroots club and do not get any outside funding. All the money we make comes from the kids’ subs, holding events and the bar revenue, but this isn’t enough to rebuild the clubhouse due to having to pay bills, maintain the grounds and pay for the groundsman.”
Meanwhile, the leaders are determined that the 200 or so children aged four to 15 who belong to the club will not suffer because of the fire. They are continuing with their weekly training sessions and activities.
Emersons Green JFC which is affiliated to the Gloucestershire FA, was founded in 2014, and has grown rapidly from three teams to 11 – six boys’ and five girls’ teams.There are plans for two more next season.
Mr Thomas said: “The club offers local children a safe, friendly and fun place to enjoy football.”