DETERMINED cricket club members hit for six by two arson attacks at their ground have won a race against time to repair the damage.
Simonside’s preparations for the new season had been thrown into doubt after the fires at their base in Oakleigh Gardens, Cleadon, destroyed a scoreboard, practice nets and thousands of pounds worth of grounds equipment.
Members of the club, which plays in the North East Durham Cricket League, feared they might have to move matches to other venues just to fulfil their fixtures.
But, determined to show the arsonists would not defeat them, players and club members worked around the clock to ensure their ground was ready to host the match between Simonside’s second team and local rivals Whiteleas.
Second team skipper Mark Pattinson said: “It was touch and go whether the game was going to be able to go ahead. But the members of the club worked hard to clean up the grounds to allow the match to be played.
“Whiteleas had offered to have the game played at their home ground, but it would have needed to be held on Sunday, which we wouldn’t have been able to do – so the game would have had to be postponed.
“We have all been devastated by what has happened, but we are all determined to carry on.”
As reported in the Echo, arsonists first struck at Oakleigh Gardens on March 26, before a second attack on April 17.
In the true spirit of cricket, Whiteleas brought a replacement scoreboard along for the game.
Whiteleas chairman Gavin Peterson, said: “We have played against Simonside for 20 years and they have never had any bother up until now.
“We know how hard it is to raise funds to keep going, never mind having to find the money to cover the cost of something like this.”
As for the game, Whiteleas batted first and made a total of 115-7 before Simonside were bowled out for 70 in reply.