ARSONISTS caused thousands of pounds of damage at a Valleys cricket club when they torched the pitch.

Brynmawr Town cricket club had its artificial pitch destroyed by vandals when a fire was started in the early hours.

Chairman at the club, Andrew Smith, 48, said more than £8,000 of damage was caused after a strip around 8ft by 18ft was set ablaze on the artificial turf, as well as another fire covering approximately 10ft by 3ft on the grass wicket.

It is believed petrol or white spirit was used to start the fire at the recreational ground on Blaenavon Road.

He described the fire as "soul destroying" and said everyone at the club was devastated by the arson attack.

The artificial pitch was only laid at the beginning of May and was being used by the under-15s for their games, but the club will now see if they can play their games on grass instead.

The pitch is owned by the council and covered by insurance, but it is not yet known how long it will take to replace, and the fire will have a knock-on effect on Brynmawr Foundation School, who also use it for lessons.

Mr Smith said the team can still play its weekend fixtures by marking out a new wicket on the pitch, but with a maximum of five games playable on each wicket, they may struggle to fulfil their remaining fixtures.

He added: "It's totally demoralising, I've been here 28 years and seen a few things, but never anything so vindictive, it really is sickening."

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service got a report of the fire at 1.07am on Monday and a crew from Brynmawr was called to the ground to tackle the blaze.

Gwent Police confirmed the fire is being treated as arson and urged anyone with information about the blaze to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.