By Karrie Gillett
THE devastated owner of a cricket club destroyed by fire has put up a £5,000 reward to catch the vandals who set it alight.
Gerry Gallacher, who runs Fauldhouse Cricket Club in West Lothian, is determined to catch the thugs who torched the buildings – costing 14 staff their jobs.
And, Mr Gallacher, who recently spent more than £120,000 on a refurbishment at the club, branded the hooligans ‘scum’.
The shell-shocked owner said: “The club is a total write-off but it’s also a complete loss to everyone in the village because it was used by everyone.
“We had children’s parties, bingo, dances classes and gala days for the whole community; the place stands for a lot more than cricket.
“The people who did this malicious and stupid act are just scumbags of this earth and it’s a devastating blow for all of us.”
The fire ripped through the club in the early hours of January 7, taking 35 fire-fighters four hours to bring under control.
Now, it looks likely the club will have to be demolished costing thousands of pounds as charred remains are all that is left.
Mr Gallacher took over the running of the cricket club two years ago, ploughing a lot of his own money into the venture.
However, the 43-year-old vowed that he would rebuild the thriving club for the community.
He said: “I most definitely will rebuild after this. I want to assure the people of Fauldhouse that we will be back, even bigger and better than before.
“I cannot comprehend why someone has targeted us in this way but my message is that I won’t take this lying down.
“There easily could have been fatalities in there because of their irresponsibility which has left a lot of people disheartened.”
The club had been targeted last month by thieves two nights in a row – with Mr Gallacher sitting in wait inside the building with his Alsatian dog on the third night but the robbers didn’t return.
He said: “A lot of people might ask why I bother but why should we have to suffer because of the mindless acts of a couple of people.
“When they broke in they caused hundreds of pounds of damage by breaking the windows and doors – all for a £30 robbery from the fruit machine.
“It’s a really sad, sad situation that this happens here, especially in a place which means so much to a lot of people.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “Investigations have confirmed that the fire was deliberately set, and the owner of the premises is now offering a cash reward for any information that can lead to the successful prosecution of the person or persons responsible.
“Anyone who has any other information that can assist our enquiries should also get in touch.”