61FC footballers appeal for donations after Luton club house victim of ‘silly arson prank’

Damage. Credit 61FC.
Damage. Credit 61FC.

A Luton amateur football club is appealing for donations after its roof was set on fire in what is believed to have been an arson attack.

Members of 61 FC, which has been established in the town for over 50 years, were shocked to discover the roof of their away changing room on fire as they arrived at the club on Tuesday, October 17.

Damage. Credit: 61FC.

Damage. Credit: 61FC.

The blaze was caused because scrap wood had been lent against the wall of the building and set on fire, the flames soon leaping up to the roof of the Beverley Road building, leaving £3,000 worth of damage.

Richard Everitt, club secretary, claims: “I arrived at about half past six, just after the fire was lit, and saw flames coming from the roof.

“Someone had found some scrap wood and put it around the wall and lit it.

“ A group of youths were standing around the club and I asked them who had done it.

Damage. Credit: 61FC

Damage. Credit: 61FC

“The lads said: ‘The people that did it ran away and we have rung the fire brigade’.”

Fortunately, the fire brigade arrived within the next five or six minutes, able to get the “two to three feet high, vicious flames” under control.

However, Richard is suspicious about how the fire was started in the first place.

He claims: “The youths I saw were 13-15 years old and it is not uncommon for us to see young people hanging around the club after school.

“I think perhaps they realised that had done something wrong and called the fire brigade; perhaps it was a silly prank that went pear-shaped. It’s lucky the fire brigade arrived so soon, otherwise the whole place would have gone up!”

Thankfully, the club members pulled together and repaired the roof ready for a home match on Saturday.

However, Richard describes the repair as “not back to normal, but back to functional,” with a proper repair job needed on the roof, ceiling and the club’s internal electricity supply.

A JustGiving site has been set up with a target of £3,000, and the club, run on a voluntary basis, is appealing for the public’s help and kindness.

Richard said: “I would like to thank everybody who has helped put things right and donated. It has also shown how strong we are as a club.”

A Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue spokeswoman, said: “Crews from Luton and Stopsley were called to Beverley Road, just after 6pm on Tuesday (October 17) and found a small external fire measuring 10m x 15m, which had spread to the roof of the football changing room.

“Firefighters used a hose reel, short extension ladder, thermal imaging camera to extinguish the fire and Milwaukee equipment to cut away the fascia and timbers. The fire cause five per cent damage to the roof.”

Richard claimed: “I have not contacted the police; to be quite frank with you, I believe all we’d get is a crime number and no action.”

Bedfordshire Police were unable to provide a comment because the matter had not been reported to them and statements are only provided for incidents they are investigating. If the club wished to report the incident, a comment could be provided.

To help donate: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/61fc-luton