From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy ‘Ladies and Gentlemen!’

Nothing special to announce here. I just couldn’t think of a better title to be honest.

 I am currently travelling through northern Victoria and we will often stay at sporting and recreational grounds overnight. That way we can have the dog off the lead and light a small fire. A quick walk around these complexes and you soon see just how important sport is to these country folk. We were staying at a small town called Ensay in the northern Gippsland area of the Great Alpine way. In this one facility there are the remnants of three tennis courts, one artificial bowls, modern netball courts and of course the obligatory football field as well as the pony club.

The town itself is only the size of Harwood or Lawrence and yet in its heyday supported all these sports and the different gates and pavilions are named after prominent sportspeople of an era long gone. It’s sad really because the only active club at the moment is the Pony club.

If Melbourne regards itself as the sporting capital of Australia and its hard to dispute such a claim, then rural Victoria must lead the way when comparisons are made to regional Australia. As you drive through these areas you will always see manicured ovals with eight white posts just waiting for the weekend game. Not to worry if the number of locals are limited, as the local club will attract players from metropolitan areas who cannot get a game there.

What is apparent as you visit these towns is how the local footy team has joined forces with the ladies netball team to promote the one club, lets say the Magpies. On game day the town comes out to support both teams who always have their home games aligned. This is a big help when it comes to looking for volunteers for the canteen or indeed ground officials. It’s a big occasion for the town, the families and the teams. A quick glance at the paper on a Monday shows that most associations are operating in a similar manner.

On the local scene the Magpies Rugby League club have taken the decision not to play A Grade in the NRRRL competition. I applaud that decision because it will allow the club to consolidate its position and take a breath while changes are made. It has one of the healthiest juniors program and has been let down in recent years by coaches and players alike. It needs to mark time while changes are made. At the moment the club is laying the foundations of another sort while club facilities and change rooms finally get to the stage of accepting quotes. As soon as that happens then player movements can be considered.

The future may well indeed be in the hands of the ladies. Just like in Victoria the ladies team (league tag in our case) could be the saviour as families come to the ground to watch the locals.