Parents at Durham football club left devastated after equipment destroyed in arson attack

A football club in County Durham has spoken of their devastation after their ground was attacked by arsonists.

More than 300 children at Shincliffe Juniors FC have even been left without nets for their next match after the horsebox they were using as a storage unit was set alight on Monday 21 November.

Around 120 of these children - aged 10 to 14 - play at home pitches off Charles Road, in Tudhoe, at weekends.

The horsebox contained nets, corner posts and and match balls, worth £3,000, which have now all been destroyed.

Craig Hetherington, a coach at Shincliffe Juniors, said: "We've lost footballs, we've lost nets, we've lost corner flags, we've lost respect barriers.

"And most importantly, we've lost the access to the pitches for the weekend, which means numerous kids just cannot play football now. It is everything for them.

"The World Cup is on now - they want to mimic all the heroes as well. It's just absolutely devastating."

The grassroots club is now without the football equipment they need to use their home pitches, which the club has paid for across the current season.

Many parents whose children attend the club will have to tell their children that they will no longer be playing football at the weekend.

Laura Younger, whose son has autism and attends the club, said: "He thrives on routine. So if he can't now access football for whatever reason, that then affects him massively."

Phil Davison, whose son also attends the club, said: "He found out yesterday. I think it was quite devastating and he was asking if he was still playing football on Saturday."

He added: "The only thing he looks forward to through the week playing football for the team, so I don't know what to tell him."

This comes less than a month after the club's £1,000 defibrillator - that they bring pitch side for every weekend match - was stolen.

Sara Clasper, the club secretary, said: "That was a lot for the club to pay out for the storage in the first place and for the equipment in the first place.

"We just don't know where the money is going to come from to replace the equipment."

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