Football club's precious memories lost in blaze

A football club has seen its poignant glory days go up in smoke after a suspected arson attack on its clubhouse.Village team Gimingham won the Norfolk Primary Cup in 1995 in an emotion-filled final just days after one of their players died after a tragic skiing accident.

A football club has seen its poignant glory days go up in smoke after a suspected arson attack on its clubhouse.

Village team Gimingham won the Norfolk Primary Cup in 1995 in an emotion-filled final just days after one of their players died after a tragic skiing accident.

But memories of that sporting highlight were destroyed when the sports pavilion was gutted by a weekend fire.

Two teenagers aged 14 and 16 from the North Walsham area have been arrested, a police spokesman confirmed.


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But club chairman Robert Grand said “all of our history has gone”.

It included paperwork and photographs of underdogs Gimingham's triumph over west Norfolk favourites Terrington St Clement, the previous year's runners-up.

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They showed Keith Gentle holding the trophy aloft and shouting “This is for you Paul” - as the team dedicated their success to the memory of his 20-year-old twin, who died from injuries suffered in an Austrian ski holiday accident.

The cross country and mid distance runner who was also a lifeguard at the Sheringham Splash pool, had two operations after colliding with a log cabin but failed to recover.

His funeral was just four days before the big match - records of which were lost in the weekend blaze, which turned the football clubhouse into a charred shell on Sunday morning.

“Everyone is very upset about the loss of the clubhouse,” said Mr Grand. “Most of the village gathered on Sunday morning to watch what was happening.

“But on top of losing the clubhouse, all of our history is gone, minutes of meetings, photographs, the lot.

“The main thing people will be upset about though is the picture of the winning Primary Cup side in the same season that Paul Gentle died.

“At the end of the cup final Paul's twin brother Keith dedicated the win to his brother, it was a very special moment for everyone.”

Mr Grand said he had been in contact with insurers and the FA since the fire.

The insurance situation was not yet fully clear, he said, and there were concerns the building was underinsured.

The immediate circumstances have seen the next home game against nearby Mundesley changed to an away fixture. And in the medium term it was hoped to bring in some portable buildings for changing and storage, plus footballs and other vital kit.

Gimingham had beaten Erpingham 11-2 just hours before the fire. Gimingham has two teams, one playing in the first division of the North East Norfolk Football League and another in the third division.

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