MEMBERS of a Co Tyrone cricket club aim to defy arsonists who burned down their bar – by stepping up efforts to build new premises with their own hands.
The thugs who torched Burndennett cricket club’s bar set out to cause maximum damage by lighting a fire under an oil tank, it emerged last night.
Members were devastated when an estimated 60,000 of damage was caused to their bar – the club’s main source of funds. Luckily, the new 150,000 changing rooms nearby escaped the blaze.
Members with skills gained in the building trades had already started building a new bar in their own time and will now put in extra hours to get the new premises ready as early as possible in the New Year.
Assistant secretary, Declan McGettigan, said last night that the members had been devastated at first but had been buoyed by the level of support from neighbouring communities and other cricket clubs.
The blaze came just weeks before a planned arrival of Santa Claus for the local children.
Mr McGettigan said the club, based in the Dennett View estate, had never experienced problems before and that no one believed that anyone living in the vicinity was responsible.
He said: “We would never have trouble here. You wouldn’t even see a name written on a wall.”
He added: “The damage could work out around 60,000 counting the contents.
“It is a big financial loss as that’s what kept the club in funding. But we are a strong club and we will rally round.
“We had already started work on the new place which was due to be ready by mid-February or March. We are going to have to work extra hours. We will now put in a push to get it ready for the end of January.
“Whoever did this meant to cause maximum damage. They lit the fire under the oil tank and there’s no trace of the tank left.”
Mr McGettigan said CCTV may now be installed in the new premises being built by members who decided to tackle the job themselves after the cheapest estimate they could get was 90,000. By doing their own work, they hope to come in at 40,000 under that.
Mr McGettigan said the response to the arson attack had been overwhelming and that neighbouring Fox Lodge Cricket Club had come to the rescue of a planned charity venture.
He said: “They offered us any help we need and we had a function organised for Chernobyl on November 22, and they have offered to hold that at their club. The response from everyone was overwhelming. I’d like to thank everyone from both sides of the community who has called. The place hasn’t cooled with people who want to see it.”
A PSNI spokesman confirmed that the blaze was being treated as arson.