A FOOTBALL club is getting back on track after an arson attack left its future in doubt.
Cottesmore Football Club chairman Allan Westray feared the club would be forced to close after the fire destroyed its pavilion, kits, equipment and electrical connections in July.
But donations from local groups and well-wishers have enabled the club to keep running and it has already bought a new metal pavilion.
The committee is hoping the floodlights will be restored in time for next season.
Mr Westray said: “After the fire I was quoted as saying I couldn’t see a future for the club but we are still fighting. Some of the visiting teams have said they can’t believe we have kept going.
“By next July I hope that we will be back in the same position we were in when the fire happened off the pitch.
“Then next season we can concentrate on getting the team back up to standard.”
The club is currently at the bottom of the Everards Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division but Mr Westray says they have been through worse and always bounce back.
They are only fielding a first team this season because the damage to the floodlights meant the under-18s team could not play and this left too few players for a reserve team.
Since the fire the club has spent about £15,000 and has managed to get its total repair costs down from £80,000 to about £30,000.
Mr Westray said: “We were initially thinking of building a brick shed to replace the wooden one. That would have cost us about £50,000. Instead we took advice and bought a metal one which cost £2,500.
“In 2012 the aim will be to get the floodlights back up and running, to get a new mower and to start using both our pitches again. For that we need two sets of goal posts.
“We are looking at spending £11,000 before July.”
The club has applied for funding through the Youth Opportunities Fund at Rutland County Council and hope to secure funding to restore the floodlights.
It has also applied to Cottesmore Parish Council for money towards a new mower.
A bid for money from the NatWest Bank Community Force Project was unsuccessful.
Mr Westray said: “We have had such great support from the community. Only a couple of weeks ago we got a cheque from the Cottesmore WI for £39 as all the women had put in a pound each to help us.”
Mr Westray says he would also like to thank the committee, the managers, the players and Malcolm Kettle who gives up his spare time to look after the pitch.
He added: “I’ve been a part of this team for 50 years and there’s nothing that can happen to us that has not happened before.
“We’ve had bad seasons and will have them again, but we are still here and we are still fighting.”