Arson-hit Leyland Warriors rugby club: We will not be beaten

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‘We will not be beaten.’ That’s the defiant message from a rugby club following an arson attack on its clubhouse.

Firebugs targeted Leyland Warriors’ ARLFC in the early hours of yesterday, causing severe damage to the building, which was opened just two years ago.

Club chairman Gary Hill, centre, with Phil Roberts, former chairman and coaching co-ordinator, left, and open age player Peter Heatley.

Club chairman Gary Hill, centre, with Phil Roberts, former chairman and coaching co-ordinator, left, and open age player Peter Heatley.

But the club has vowed to take the setback in its stride and come back even stronger.

Chairman Gary Hill, 33, said: “It’s hard to see all the hard work gone in a night. But we’re not going to roll over.

“We won’t let it beat us.”

The blaze, which broke out at around 2am yesterday, was battled by 40 firefighters from around the county.

It’s not just the initial fire, it’s after. We have to run the club off what we get. Everything we get goes back into the club.

It left the clubhouse gutted and the club, which runs teams ranging from four-year-olds, right through to open age and veterans as well as a successful wheelchair team, facing a £9,000 repair bill.

But devastated club officials say they will fight back, and a fund started yesterday to help the club raised £300 in its first four hours.

The club, based on Malt Kiln Fold, off Moss Side Way in Leyland, has been repeatedly targeted by vandals over the last year, and had begun work towards a vandal-proof fence when the arsonists struck.

Mr Hill, 33, of Leyland, said: “It’s disgusting. The people who did this don’t understand the consequences and knock-on effects for everyone.

“It’s not just the initial fire, it’s after. We have to run the club off what we get. Everything we get goes back into the club.

“Things like this make it more hard work.”

But he promised the club would go on.

“We’re not going to roll over. We won’t let it beat us,” he said. “It’s hard to see all the hard work gone in a night.”

A tournament scheduled for last night went ahead as planned and the club has also vowed that games scheduled for the weekend will be played as usual.

Mr Hill said: “This Sunday we’ve five games on, that’s ten teams. We won’t be able to feed them now.

“But the games will be played.”

He said he felt for the young players at the club.

“They’ll all be gutted, they love it,” he said. “We’re a family club. Clubs enjoy coming here because of how we run it – it’s not about winning things.”

More than 40 firefighters from across the county, including a specialist incident command centre, attended the blaze, which broke out at around 2am yesterday.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Six fire engines from Chorley, Bamber Bridge, Penwortham and Leyland together with a incident command unit from Fulwood attended the incident.

“Crews suspected quite early on that the fire was deliberate.

“They used a hose-reel jet to extinguish the fire, but damage to the clubhouse is considerable.”

Supporters have set up a JustGiving page to raise a target of £1,000 towards the repairs. It had already received more than £300 when the Post went to press.

The damage is expected to take months to repair.