AMID mangled metal and charred ruins, a cricket club counts the cost of a mindless act of vandalism.
Bosses at Simonside Cricket Club, in Cleadon Village, say its future is under threat after a fire at their ground destroyed essential maintenance equipment as well as the scoreboard and practice nets.
The attack comes just months after the Oakleigh Gardens ground was targeted by thieves. The double blow has left officials fearing the £8,000 cost of recovering from both incidents.
Club captain and chairman Garry Haynes, 43, of Harden Park, Boldon, said: “I am absolutely disgusted at the people who have done this. We are only a small club run by volunteers and we do our best to make the most of what we have.
“All of the ground cutting equipment was purchased by ourselves. If we do not replace this, we may not play at the start of the season.”
The club has two senior teams in the North East Durham Cricket League, with matches set to start on April 30.
Arsonists started a blaze in the club’s changing rooms and that came after officials were already trying to cope with a raid in November, when thieves stole £6,000 worth of specialist lawnmowers and a roller from a storage unit at the ground.
Groundsman Dave Scrafton is currently using an old petrol mower and roller to try and get the ground ready for the new season.
Mr Haynes added: “The equipment that was stolen in November will still be out there. It’s precision cutting gear and can only be used for a cricket ground, or maybe a stately home. If anyone has seen or been offered this equipment, please contact the police.”
The club is now waiting to find out if any of the equipment is covered by insurance.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We received reports of a fire at Oakleigh Gardens, Cleadon, between 7.30pm and 8pm on Saturday March 26. The fire is being treated as suspicious and enquiries are ongoing.”
Police are also continuing their probe into the theft at the ground, when lawnmowers and cutting equipment was stolen, between midnight and 5.35am on November 13.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 03456 043 043 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.