Watch: 'Soul destroying' damage as Institute FC stadium flooded
"I'm gutted for the club and gutted for the volunteers" says chairman
Institute FC's chairman says flooding at the club's Riverside stadium almost submerged the goal-posts.
The Drumahoe club plays its football in the Championship, the second tier of Northern Irish football, but severe flooding overnight in the area took over the stadium. The water was seven feet high in all the ground floor rooms inside the club while the playing surface has been left with, in some areas, five feet of sediment lying on top.
The perimeter fence was ripped out and nearby trees were uprooted, some of which were washed onto the pitch along with the burger van, which was left in the goalmouth. The scale of the damage left chairman Bill Anderson almost lost for words.
He said: "It's really, really gutting. It's the first time I've experienced anything like this at the club. I couldn't believe it when I got a call last night to say the water was up near the top of the goal-posts.
"There will have to be a lot of work done now to get the pitch back to what it was. It will have a lot of silt on it from the river so it's going to be a bit of a muck-heap."
Institute have recently built a new grandstand at the ground and further work was carried out to improve the stadium over the summer.
"I'm gutted for the club and gutted for the volunteers who have all put in a lot of work over the summer in terms of the pitch and the refubishment of the changing rooms," continued Anderson.
"All we can do at the minute is wait until the water subsides and we can get a look at the damage but from what we can see, it's a disaster. I'm sure it will be another three or four days before we can see the extent of the damage and how we go forward. It's left us all in limbo."
Stute narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premiership last season and Anderson says the club have been pushing hard to progress.
"We've put in a lot of work on and off the pitch," he said. "Our Under 20 team won the Development League last season and our senior side were in the play-offs to get up to the Premiership. We're pushing very hard to develop and there has been a lot of hard work by volunteers. There isn't a lot of money in Championship football and we rely on them.
"Institute Football Club will be back but we need to be realistic in terms of taking our time to assess the impact.
Soul Destroying.— Institute F.C. (@Institute_FC) August 23, 2017
Further announcement to follow to see where we go from here :( pic.twitter.com/8oI8Ww9Elj
Institute were due to host Ballyclare Comrades on Friday evening, although that game has now been switched to Comrades' Dixon Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
- MORE ON FLOODING: Northern Ireland bridge collapses as firefighters rescue almost 100 people after flood
Belfast Telegraph Digital