Brian Burke | Sportsground decision the right one

Maitland Council has officially ruled No.1 Sportsground out of action for the season. As a councillor and former champion footballer, no-one is better qualified to comment than Brian Burke. 

First, let me put my hand in the air and say that I was the councillor who moved that no football be played on our new rugby league ground for the remainder of the season.

Yes, me, and I take no pleasure in saying that.

Like everybody else – including, obviously, Pickers players and officials – I was excited at the thought of seeing our mighty black and whites run out on their new ground.

I could just see myself up there in the comfy new grandstand, watching the action while I sipped on a hot coffee – not as good as the ones I make, but that’s another story.

After the season the Pickers endured last year, it was just the boost the club needed. But it is not to be.

I should also point out that I have been up to Coronation Oval to watch the boys play this season, and it’s just not the same.

The ground is as hard as a rock, there’s no real atmosphere, the wind whips across it … it’s tough work even for the spectators, let alone the players.

But I still believe council had no alternative.

A few months back every councillor went for an inspection of the new indoor pool and the Sportsground on the same day. I said back then that I didn’t think the ground would be ready for play this season.  

I’m not a turf expert, but am happy to take the recommendation of those who know more about the subject than me.

The recommendation presented to council was that - and I quote – “the ground is not suitable for competition play at this time”.

From what I saw, I couldn’t agree more. I thought it would not only tear up, but that it would be dangerous. 

As a former Pickers player I know the players and the club are hurting right now. And this just seems to magnify the problem.

What is it? Six games lost by six points or less, $30,000 or so lost through gate takings, a second wooden spoon a possibility … I feel for them, I really do.

It must seem like there’s a million dollar Ferrari in the garage but you’re not allowed to drive it.

But by taking this action, when the boys run out next season the playing surface will be lush and safe.

And our Pickers will do us proud.