The high-flying Maitland Magpies have been grounded by their water-logged home pitch again.
Good Friday’s much anticipated local derby against the Weston Bears was postponed when Cooks Square Park was water-logged after a series of heavy downpours on Thursday.
Club president Ray Watkins said having to postpone games was frustrating but unavoidable as works last year to concrete the parking area at the eastern side of the ground had impeded drainage.
“We have been working very closely with Maitland City Council and the only real long-term solution is a $60,000 drainage upgrade,” Watkins said.
“Council has been terrific in their dealing with us and we are likely to schedule the needed works once the season is over.
“Council has spent a lot of money on the ground, but unfortunately the works on the carpark has impacted the drainage.
“It wasn’t an issue last year as it was a relatively normal season as far as rainfall.
“This year we have had a lot more heavy rain and unfortunately the timing hasn’t allowed the ground to dry properly.
“We just need a week of so of sunshine to dry the ground out and the return of normal winter rainfall patterns.”
Watkins said the last thing the club wanted to do was postpone games as it was costing them financially and causing a backlog of games which will impact on their FFA Cup presentations.
However, he said the playing surface would have been carved up by games on Friday and posed a potential threat of injury to players.
During an inspection on Sunday morning, two days after the game was scheduled, there were several large areas which were waterlogged with shoes sinking down and leaving imprints in the surface.
“We can understand the frustration of the fans and players, but if we play on the surface as it is we risk damage which could leave it unplayable for even longer than the current delays and cost us many thousands of dollars in repairs,” Watkins said.
Watkins said any suggestion that the Magpies were postponing games because of their heavy schedule was silly because it was unavailability of grounds because of the weather which caused the backlog in the first place.
The club is hopeful that with four-clear days the ground will be sufficiently recovered to host three catch-up games this week and Saturday’s all day fixture against Lambton Jaffas in the youth teams followed by senior games against Valentine.
“On Tuesday, we’ve got 18s and 20s games against Hamilton, Wednesday is the first grade catch-up against Hamilton and on Thursday we’ve got 14s and 16s games against Broadmeadow Magic,” he said. “We’re hoping for sushine.”