SOME of England’s most talented young snooker players have been left devastated after a huge blaze ripped through the centre where they train.
Hartlepool Snooker Centre, in Green Street, was wrecked by fire in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A joint investigation between fire and police teams is ongoing to determine the cause of the blaze, which also left businesses housed in the same building also counting the cost.
“I’ve spent five nights a week there for the last 10 years and now I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.
“I’m old enough to be able to cope with it but I really feel for the kids, they’re all totally gutted.”
John, who helped coach Hartlepool’s first-ever professional snooker player Ryan Clark, 21, at the centre, added: “The priority now is making sure that the kids keep playing and that they’ve got the facilities and the equipment that they need.
“Our members are aged six to 18, so this is a huge thing for them.”
Several members of the academy, which boasts 20 players on its books, were away at a competition in Oldham on Saturday when they heard news of the fire.
Of that squad, three represent England juniors and now have nowhere to train ahead of their next competition in August.
John said he had the job of breaking it to the team on Sunday morning in the hotel where they were staying.
“Everyone is still just in shock, we can’t believe it,” he said.
“We’ve got some of the best junior players in the country and basically they’ve now got nowhere to play.
“We’d left cues in the club behind the bar along with all of our other equipment. We’ve lost thousands of pounds worth of gear.
“It’s not just the junior teams, there’s teams in the men’s league that play there as well.
“It’s unbelieveable, and so sad.”
Fire crews from nearby Stranton were joined by appliances from the Headland, Billingham and Stockton as well as Cleveland Fire Brigade’s hydraulic platform. and an incident command unit after the blaze broke out at around 3.30am.
A section of the A689 which runs adjacent to the gutted building was closed to motorists as the remainder of the building was deemed to be unsafe.
On Sunday afternoon, after the remains of the building had been dampened down, demoltion teams moved in to flatten sections of the walls.
Neil Mosley, who has owned the Snooker Centre for the last 12 years, spoke of his heartache in yesterday’s mail after seeing his livelihood taken away from him.
He said: “I’m just devastated. Me and my wife Tracy worked damn hard, and in just one night it’s all been taken away from us.”