Firework party is snuffed out as pitch work goes on

LEP - BONFIRE NIGHT 2015
Families and friends gather for the annual bonfire and fireworks display at Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club, Preston.

LEP - BONFIRE NIGHT 2015 Families and friends gather for the annual bonfire and fireworks display at Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club, Preston.

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RUGBY club officials have described the cancellation of one of Lancashire’s largest bonfire and firework displays as “a big blow.”

The November 5 event, which attracts thousands to Preston Grasshoppers every year, has had to be called off next month due to ongoing construction work at the ground.

“It’s a big fundraiser for us,” confessed Richard Ellis, general manager of the club in Lightfoot Green. “It will be a big blow, but it’s just one of those things and something we are going to have to cope with.”

Work on laying a new £750,000 artificial surface began last month and is not expected to be completed until the end of November.

The site of the annual bonfire is in a corner adjacent to the first team pitch and spectators have traditionally stood around the perimeter to watch the firework spectacular.

But with workmen laying a new surround to the state-of-the-art 3G pitch, the club says the Bonfire Night event is a non-starter.

“The perimeter has all been dug up and hasn’t been put back yet,” said Mr Ellis. “It isn’t going to be ready in four weeks time.

“It’s just down to the safety aspects. We can’t really have thousands of people on site before all this work is completed.

“The bonfire and fireworks make up a big chunk of our surplus over the year and unfortunately we will not be able to make that money this time. It can’t be helped. The work isn’t scheduled to finish until the end of November.”

Hoppers say they are planning a number of new events once the artificial pitch is laid to help offset some of the money lost. A decision on future years will be taken once the work is finished and a review has taken place.