History lost after Leagues Club went up in flames
THE sense of loss in the greater Kingscliff community is almost palpable.
As police and fire brigade officers inspect the severely damaged remains of the Cudgen Leagues Club this morning, locals were struggling with a sense of disbelief over what happened when fire devastated the building yesterday.
The clubhouse on Wommin Bay Rd was more than just the home to the Cudgen rugby league side, the cricket club, the bowls club and the Kingscliff RSL sub-branch, it was the heart and soul of the area.
While the structure can be rebuilt, it was inside the structure and history contained that has left the community devastated.
Club director Mick Kennedy, who has served on the board for 21 years, was at a loss when it came to describing the impact the blaze had on all those associated with the club.
"There were items that dated back to 1910, cricket caps, jerseys, photographs and so many memories and so much history - all gone," Mr Kennedy said.
He said the club had played an important role in the history of Kingscliff and the Tweed Coast - it was a true community club.
"When word got around, I had so many phone calls from people coming to terms with what had happened. I think many of them were upset about what the club had lost in the way of history," he said.
"So many people have a connection with Cudgen in some way, whether it is through family ties or through sports, this is club for everyone.
"It couldn't have come at a worse time - even as a board we have been told we can't come together to try and figure what we do now due to the coronavirus, so we will have to hold a Zoom meeting."
Mr Kennedy said it was far too early to try and estimate the extent of the damage, though he hoped there would be some sections of the club that may be able to be used.
"We had just had our dressing sheds painted but I understand they may have had some smoke and water damaged," he said.
"We had been eagerly awaiting what the NSW Rugby League was planning and were even looking about the possibility of returning to the training paddock in a few weeks time.
"While the ground is still in good condition, we really don't know what we will do now."
Mr Kennedy said while much of the irreplaceable items had been destroyed in the fire, the board took steps about three years ago to take copies of some of the historic photos in the club and store them on computer files.
"We had an incident a few years ago which prompted us to get copies of pics taken so hopefully we may be able to retrieve them," he said.
"One thing is for sure, this club has taken a few hits over the years but we have managed to get up and going again and I have no doubt Cudgen Leagues Club and the community who supports it will see us get up and going once more."
There may be a glimmer of hope for the Kingscliff RSL sub-branch which had a room at the clubhouse with information from fire fighters that their branch room may have not been as severely damaged as first thought.
Sub-branch spokesman Brian Vickery said he had been told officers who had entered the room said it had suffered heat and water damage but there was a possibility that some of the treasured items and memorabilia inside may have avoided destruction.
"We don't know just what is there because we have to wait until the building is cleared for us to go in an retrieve stuff but we have our fingers crossed," he said.
"We have a full set of armed services flags, a full honour board dating back to 1948, paintings and photographs, medal replicas and displays.
"For the sub-branch, this has been our home for many years so we are at a loss about what happens next.
"However I feel for the entire community because this club served so many different organisations - hosting meetings and functions, social gatherings and sporting events - it has been the heart and soul of Kingscliff and the Tweed Coast.
"Sadly while we might be fortunate to save some items of historical value for the sub-branch, I share the emotional loss of the other clubs here and what they have lost."