Carnarvon oval causes disarray

Tamra CarrMidwest Times
The Carnarvon Warriors won the Gascoyne Football Association grand final last season. This year, the season dates will be pushed back. INSET: Carnarvon cricket players from 2016. Cricketers are now able to play on Festival Ground, an oval traditionally played on by footballers.
Camera IconThe Carnarvon Warriors won the Gascoyne Football Association grand final last season. This year, the season dates will be pushed back. INSET: Carnarvon cricket players from 2016. Cricketers are now able to play on Festival Ground, an oval traditionally played on by footballers. Credit: Supplied, Natasha Gilmartin

Gascoyne Football Association have been forced to delay their season opener by a month, after Carnarvon Shire failed to make the footy oval safe in time for scheduled start date.

Festival Ground Oval, which the association leases from the Shire, was made a multi-use site for football and cricket last October, when the Shire installed a concrete cricket pitch in the middle of the oval.

Warriors Football Club president Ted Shultz said many people were angry at the move, largely because cricket, a sport of reportedly only 30 players, already had two other pitched fields.

Others were questioning whether the decision would deter the WAFL from returning to Carnarvon and playing a fixture at Festival Ground.

Shultz, who is affiliated with both football and cricket, also said the season push-back may also increase the likelihood that fixture dates could clash with other big sporting events.

GFA president Cameron Perry explained the pitch was put in to increase the likelihood of the Shire securing $2 million for lighting upgrades, as grant providers would prefer funding benefit more than one sport.

However, he said his main issue was a “lack of consultation with the association”, which reportedly led to the Shire spending six months testing a host of unsuitable methods to transform the playing surface into a ground safe for footy.

“At the moment, someone could catch a chest mark, skid along the ground, slam into the raised edge of the pitch and rip their kneecaps off,” Perry said.

“Now, they’ve finally ordered roll-out turf, but it will take about three weeks to prepare the grounds, to make sure the grass is properly knitted in with the rest of the field.

“I question why a drop-in pitch wasn’t used.

“They’re in ovals all over the country and it means you can just take the pitch out of the oval, instead of having to cover the concrete up.”

Both Shultz and Perry said Festival Ground had a cricket pitch installed roughly a decade ago, but it was uprooted because of the complications it provided to footy players. “Now they’ve done it again,” Perry said.

Carnarvon Shire has been contacted for comment.

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