‘Overwhelming’ support for the Warriors

Club chairman Gary Hill, centre, with Phil Roberts, former chairman and coaching co-ordinator, left, and open age player Peter Heatley.

Club chairman Gary Hill, centre, with Phil Roberts, former chairman and coaching co-ordinator, left, and open age player Peter Heatley.

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An arson-hit rugby club says it is staggered by the amazing support it has received following a devastating blaze which gutted its clubhouse.

Leyland Warriors ARLFC was left reeling from the early-hours attack on the building at its ground at Malt Kiln Fold, Moss Side Way, Leyland.

The fire damaged clubhouse at Leyland Warriors ARLFC after it was targeted by arsonists.

The fire damaged clubhouse at Leyland Warriors ARLFC after it was targeted by arsonists.

The club, which runs teams from four-year-olds to open age and veterans - and a successful wheelchair team - prides itself on its community links.

Special fundraising as a result of the fire, to get the clubhouse up and running again, began within hours of the incident at about 2am on Thursday.

A JustGiving page was set up and money began to flow in. A target of £3,500 currently stands at more than £2,900.

The club has been inundated with other offers of help – including support from Super League giants Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves.

Club chairman Gary Hill said: “We’re just overwhelmed.”

Leyland Warriors ARLFC officials were due to meet last night to put together a plan of action on how to take the club forward following the arson attack on its clubhouse.

The damage is expected to take months to repair.

Club bosses have vowed they will not be beaten by the mindless firebugs.

And they feel humbled by the generosity and support they have received.

Chairman Gary Hill said before the meeting: “We’re going to go through what people have been putting together and put a plan in action to best utilise what’s coming in.”

Offers and help have ranged from:

*Tesco’s fed Sunday’s eight teams that played at the ground; Morrison’s have offered to do the same this weekend.

*Locals businesses have offered prizes for the club’s raffle at the Leyland Festival.

*Wigan Warriors have offered a bucket collection at one of their home games.

*Warrington Wolves’ chairman has personally pledged £100 and the club has offered other help, such as a match day collection and sending players to help fundraise.

*Cheques through the post and parents sending in cheques.

*A £1,000 cheque from Epic Events.

*Shares on Facebook rugby pages and people offering donations.

*Support from derby rivals Chorley Panthers.

*Support from Leyland firm Berry’s who have offered to loan containers or security fencing.

*Parents taking collections at matches and donations form other teams.

Gary said: “It’s brilliant. In the space of seventy two hours it’s just taking off.

“Offers are coming in and people are obviously getting together and the club really does appreciate it.”

Meanwhile, Gary, 33, of Leyland, said the fire is believed to have been started as a result of two wheelie bins being set alight.

He appealed: “If anybody reports missing wheelie bins, blue and brown ones . . . the amount of people that have their own CCTV on their houses, we might be able to trace who did it.”

The damaged clubhouse was opened just two years ago.

The blaze was battled by 40 firefighters from around the county.

The club has been repeatedly targeted by vandals over the last year, and had begun work towards a vandal-proof fence when the arsonists struck.

Gary said: “It’s disgusting. The people who did this don’t understand the consequences and knock-on effects for everyone.

“It’s not just the initial fire, it’s after. We have to run the club off what we get. Everything we get goes back into the club.

“Things like this make it more hard work.”

He said he felt for the young players at the club.

“They’ll all be gutted, they love it,” he said. “We’re a family club. Clubs enjoy coming here because of how we run it – it’s not about winning things.”