Portsmouth football club tells of '˜devastation' after clubhouse is targeted by youths in suspected arson attack

TEENAGE boys have been arrested on suspicion of arson after a popular football club's building was damaged in a suspected arson attack.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 4:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 5:29 pm
Firefighters at the scene of the fire. Picture: Kerrie Kilford

Members of Fleur de Lys FC have been left '˜devastated' after its clubhouse was damaged.

Firefighters were called to the club in Drayton at 3.55pm on Saturday after a fire took hold of the building's loft space.

The blaze left a gaping hole in its roof and led to water damage in the club kitchen.  

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Firefighters at the scene of the fire. Picture: Kerrie Kilford

Hampshire police, who also attended the scene, confirmed they received reports of youths smoking on top of the Drayton Park facilities, in Lower Drayton Lane, before the fire broke out.

Two 14-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of arson after smoke was seen billowing from the building's roof.

The club's 22 teams are now unable to use the clubhouse, which also has toilets and an equipment store.

Fleur de Lys club coordinator Kerrie Kilford rushed to the scene of the blaze as the drama unfolded.

Damage to the clubhouse's roof. Picture: Kerrie Kilford

'˜The chairman was at a charity event so he called me to ask if I could get on site. None of us understood the scale of the fire at this stage,' the 46-year-old said.

'˜When I got there I felt like crying '“ the feeling was one of devastation.

'˜We took on the clubhouse three years ago on a 25-year lease from Portsmouth City Council and have been doing it up ever since.

'˜Now no one can use it until it's safe again and we will have to find money for the insurance bill.' 

Left to right of Fleur de Lys Football Club volunteers: Vicki Brown, volunteer who runs the kitchen, Matthew Davies, committee member for Railway Triangle Cricket Club, Jerome Carroll, committee member for Soccer Tots, Nina Wheeler, mini fixtures secretary, Scott Andrews, team manager and assistant child welfare officer and Kerrie Kilford, club coordinator. Picture: Sarah Standing

While coaches rallied their own equipment together to ensure weekend games at Drayton Park went ahead, the fire has rocked the local community.

Oscar Rodgers, 11, was at the park and saw police make arrests. His mother Natalie said: '˜When he got home he was was really shocked. He couldn't believe two lads, not much older than himself, could do such a horrible thing to the community.'

Ms Kilford, who has two sons who play for Fleur de Lys, said a fundraising page may soon be set up to help pay for repairs to the clubhouse.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed crews from Cosham and Havant attended the fire and put it out using one hose reel and two breathing apparatus. They had finished by 4.53pm. 

Police have confirmed the two 14-year-olds have now been released from custody but remain under investigation.