‘Disgrace’ as allotments are targeted by criminals

Disgraceful: Leo Gornall at the burned out shed and, below, with Sir Tom Finney at the allotments
Disgraceful: Leo Gornall at the burned out shed and, below, with Sir Tom Finney at the allotments
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It was once the meeting place of former Preston North End players, including the city’s most famous sporting son Sir Tom Finney.

But sheds in the allotments off Garstang Road in Deepdale, where crowds used to meet, have been targeted by criminals.

Leo Gornall with Sir Tom Finney who regularly made visits to Leo's allotments

Leo Gornall with Sir Tom Finney who regularly made visits to Leo's allotments

A cabin where former players would enjoy a brew was broken into just before Christmas, while a neighbouring shed, full of tools and gardening equipment, was burned down this week.

The owner of the two sheds, former player Leo Gornall, said he had been left “shell shocked” by what had happened.

Leo, 77, said: “Sir Tom used to come down and have a cup of tea with us on a Friday. There are pictures of him digging.”

Leo went to his allotment on Wednesday morning, and found his shed had been set alight.

He said: “It’s all charcoal. The cabin they have set fire to is a write off, but the one where we have a cup of tea is ok, but there’s rubbish all over.

“I thought why do it to me, what have I done? I haven’t any enemies.”

Burglars targeted one of the sheds on December 23, but despite the football memorabilia, took only a mobile phone and £3 cash.

The second shed was targeted at about 4am on Wednesday, leaving “no chance of saving it”.

Leo, who lives in Ashton, said: “I knew Sir Tom very well. I played with him back in the 50s.

“I was a full-time player at Preston but I only got one first team appearance because I was a winger like Sir Tom, so opportunities were a bit difficult.

“He used to love coming down here.

“The lads who used to come in here were Preston lads, they loved Preston and for this to happen is a disgrace.”

Fire crews were called to tackle the blaze at the allotment at the junction of Garstang Road and Blackpool Road, and launched an investigation into the cause.

Police were also investigating the fire, as well as the earlier burglary.

Anybody who saw anything suspicious in the area is asked to contact police on 101.

Nobody was injured in the fire.