Shrublands FC clubhouse burnt down in 'devastating' fire

Aerial platform above fire Image copyright Shrublands FC
Image caption Firefighters were called to tackle the blaze late on Suffolk Road on Tuesday night

A football club said a blaze which has destroyed its clubhouse has been "devastating".

Firefighters were called to Shrublands FC's ground in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, at about 23:10 BST on Tuesday.

Police said they were treating the blaze as suspected arson. The club said it thought someone had set fire to a nearby bench before it took hold.

Club co-chairman Kirk Towers was moved to tears by the damage and said: "To come down and see this is unreal."

Image caption Kirk Towers said the fire which ravaged Shrublands FC's clubhouse was "devastating"

The fire engulfed the roof of the Claydon Pavilion, with the changing rooms and other facilities also damaged.

"It's devastating - we're only a small club," said Mr Towers.

"There are kits in there, club shop, kitchenware, all the stock for the kitchen and so on, so it's completely gone."

Mr Towers said plans for its weekend youth tournament were in doubt.

However, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has stepped in and said it was preparing the nearby Magdalen playing fields, so the event could still go ahead.

Image caption Police said they believed the fire was started deliberately

The blaze is the latest in a string of vandalism incidents.

"We simply can't afford to keep replacing things all the time," said Mr Towers.

"We did have provisions where we were going to put in CCTV, but it's too late."

Image caption Mr Towers said the club had repeatedly been vandalised

The Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League recently gave Shrublands a Top 100 Club award.

League chairman Shaun Platten said: "I am absolutely gutted.

"This is more than a loss just for football - this is a community thing."

Shrublands FC, a youth development club, had added an adult section in the last year.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy on social media, with Great Yarmouth Town announcing it would hold a collection on Wednesday.

Norfolk Police said it was called to the scene by the fire service and was investigating.

No-one was hurt in the fire, a spokeswoman added.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which owns the site, said it had now fenced off the area.

"The next step is to assess the condition of the building following the fire, in liaison with our insurer," he said.

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