ARSONISTS have burned down a wooden pavilion used by cricketers.
Fire bugs torched the building at the Dean's Field in Chester city centre where the Ship Victory pub cricket team play every Monday evening in summer.
Owned by the cathedral, the team is allowed to use the field free of charge and their regular match went ahead as usual this week.
However, the pavilion was used for storing equipment including the lawn mower which was wrecked. It is also handy for shelter in bad weather.
Ship Victory landlord Joe Gildea said: 'We are allowed to play there by kind permission of the cathedral. It's something that started perhaps 15 years ago.
'We play friendlies on the Dean's Field on Monday nights and we have used that pavilion since then to store our stuff.
'When the weather is inclement we used to run into the pavilion to get out of the rain. It's a real privilege to have those facilities. It's beautiful on a sunny evening. You look around and you've got the Roman walls, the cathedral and the town hall.'
Mr Gildea has no idea who is behind the attack. He said there had been problems with vagrants about four or five years ago but nothing recently.
He added that there had been 'a couple' of attempts to set fire to the pavilion at the end of last season. On one occasion someone lit the two stroke mixture used in the mower to ignite the wicketkeeper's pads.
On another occasion the fire service had saved the building.
There had been talk of holding a charity rounders match at the Dean's Field this summer to raise money for a biopsy gun at the Countess of Chester Hospital to help in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.
The Gildeas' daughter Angela died of the disease. Mr Gildea is no longer sure whether the match will be able to go-ahead.
Ten firefighters used two main jets and two hosereels to tackle the blaze, at about 9.40pm on Saturday after neighbours alerted the emergency services. A
A Cheshire Fire Service spokesman said: 'We can pretty much assume the cause was malicious.'