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We'll battle back, vows fire-hit club.

Byline: By Paul Bladon and Emma Cullwick

STUNNED members of a Birmingham rugby club which burned to the ground today vowed it would rise from the ashes.

The clubhouse belonging to Five Ways Old Edwardians was gutted in a mystery blaze at around 1am yesterday.

Firefighters from Northfield, Kings Norton, Bromsgrove and Redditch tackled the flames, but could not save the premises in Hopwood, near Alvechurch, and much priceless memorabilia.

The Ash Lane centre was home to scores of sports clubs, including Five Ways Old Edwardians Cricket Club.

Cricket secretary Ian Wingfield said: "I can't believe it's happened and we're still trying to get our head around it."

Peter Grace, the rugby club's chairman, said: "It's a huge blow to both the rugby and cricket clubs.

"I am sure that the rugby community will rally round to help us and we have already had generous offers from clubs, including Kings Norton, to use their changing facilities.

"The problem is revenue. Like all sports clubs we depend on a bar for revenue and we will not have that until we can replace the clubhouse.

"We have lost a lot of memorabilia including photographs dating back almost 100 years. They cannot be replaced."

"But we are a strong club and we will come back stronger. I am confident that we will be able to rise from the ashes."

Mr Grace added: "We don't yet know how the fire started, but a brick building like that doesn't burn easily.

"We had all the electrics and alarms serviced recently so there will be a lengthy investigation."

The rugby club was formed in 1892 and moved to their current ground the mid-1970s. The club produced former England international winger Keith Fielding who won ten caps as a Moseley player between 1969 and 1970.

Shirts donated by Fielding were among the memorabilia lost in the fire.

A spokesman for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said an investigation had been launched into the cause of the fire, which was not believed to have been suspicious.

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WRECKED... Five Ways Old Edwardians' clubhouse.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 27, 2006
Words:348
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