A CRICKET pavilion was torched hours after it was besieged by a teenage mob who chased players with weapons.
The blaze at Shaftesbury Playing Fields in Grimsdyke Road, Hatch End, is believed to be in retaliation to a mass mid-match confrontation that forced Saturday's Hatch End CC game against Old Camdenians CC to be abandoned.
One Hatch End player, who did not wish to be named, said: "There were lots of youngsters hanging around the park. They were really young - 14 or 15 - and they were drunk.
"They started to nick the boundary flags and we went over to them because of the disruption.
"It just escalated. It wasn't a brawl, just pushing and shoving. No one got hurt."
The match was abandoned part way through but while the cricketers trudged back to the pavilion, the youths gathered friends and, amazingly, parents for a tense showdown.
The player remembered: "Lots of people came down - 50 of them - and they came with lots of weapons: poles, sticks, logs and bricks.
"They came into the clubhouse causing aggrevation.
"They threw a couple of cricket balls but didn't hit anyone because they knew the police were coming."
Graham Wild, a Hatch End CC committee member, added: "There was a group of cricketers trying to defend the clubhouse - it was a siege mentality."
Initially two, and later four, police officers separated the two groups and calmed the situation down. They escorted the last sportsman off the site at 7pm but, according to club officials, chose not to move the teenagers on.
Not much longer than 30 minutes later the pavilion was burning down.
The Hatch End CC player added: "It's the same kids because they didn't leave the park.
"The firemen are saying the fire started from the inside so the youths must have broken in."