A community football club has appealed for donations after losing thousands of pounds worth of kit and equipment to a mystery shed blaze on Monday.
Firefighters rushed to Berkhamsted Sports Ground after a 999 call-out just after 9.35am – but could not save the Berkhamsted Raiders’ storage shed from total devastation.
Chairman Keith Pollard said: “It’s a blow and a further drain on club funds.”
The club fields more than 56 teams for all age groups, and more than 700 children play for them. The blaze comes little more than a month before the club’s biggest event of the year.
The Football Fun Day and six-a-side competition is expected to draw in 130 competing teams and 1,500 spectators on Sunday, June 9.
But Mr Pollard said: “All of the kit and equipment required for the tournament was in the storage shed.”
He said the club aims to get replacement gear in time for the event, which he called ‘one of the biggest in the area’.
He said the blaze destroyed 12 of the club’s goal posts and nets – used at its seven Kitcheners Field pitches in Berkhamsted Sports Ground and at schools in the town.
New goals bought by the club for Berkhamsted’s Westfield First School were also casualties of the fire.
Mr Pollard said: “It destroyed all of our kit and equipment for mini-soccer and for girl’s soccer. I was shocked.”
The club will have to pay a £500 insurance excess on anything that needs replacing. Mr Pollard has appealed for donations – if you can help, phone him on 07710 229102.
He said: “We will beg, steal and borrow what we need for the next few weeks.”
The fire also spread to a second shed, used by Berkhamsted Cricket Club to store its specialist cricket pitch rollers and lawn mowers.
Firefighters put out the blaze before any equipment was damaged, but the cricket club, like the Raiders, will now have to find a new storage shed.
Cricket club chairman Julian Dent said: “I was gutted really, because there’s no reason why there would be a fire there.
“You have got a lot of expensive equipment that you need right now at the start of the cricket season and it would be disastrous to have that sort of loss.”
Firefighters were still investigating the cause of the fire as the Gazette went to press.