Magpies abandon hope of McLean Park grand final this year

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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The new McLean Park surface following its significant upgrade.
Camera IconThe new McLean Park surface following its significant upgrade. Credit: Toby Hussey

McLean Park will no longer be the venue for this year’s Great Southern Football League grand final after a decision by the Denmark-Walpole Football Club this week to pull the plug on hosting this event.

The Magpies were hoping to play their first home fixture of the season on the new McLean Park surface this weekend but the Shire of Denmark has delayed that prospect for a further week.

Instead the Magpies have had to change their game this weekend to Sunday and will now travel to play Albany at their home ground in Centennial Stadium.

The DWFC committee met on Tuesday night and decided to hand over hosting rights of this year’s grand final, which will now be held at Centennial Stadium.

The prospect of a run of home games to finish the regular season was enticing for the Magpies but DWFC president Kim Barrow said that itself presented a few issues.

“The turf expert is coming down next week to have a look at the ground,” Barrow said.

“But even when we are right to play on the ground, we can only have league and reserves there and the colts and sixteens have to find another venue which stretches our volunteers and makes it tough with umpires and the like.

“So the club’s decided not to worry about playing any games on McLean Park this year, there are too many improbables from our point of view.”

The Magpies will forgo all remaining home games in 2019 and hand hosting rights of the GSFL decider to Royals before having the marquee event at McLean Park in 2020.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: McLean Park under redevelopment earlier this year.
Camera IconUNDER CONSTRUCTION: McLean Park under redevelopment earlier this year. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The Shire of Denmark has spent more than $1 million on the McLean Park redevelopment, involving a resurface of the main oval along with addition upgrades to lighting, drainage and new cricket nets.

Shire of Denmark director corporate and community services Cary Green said on Tuesday they were still being cautious but were confident of playing there in the next fortnight.

“There was a light training run on the ground in the middle week of Landmark but it didn’t pull up as well as we would have liked.

“The bottom roots are very good but the top or crown roots need a bit more time.

“We want to get on the ground as soon as possible but our goal and mindset is to have the ground good to go for the grand final, if we have to drop a home game to have the grand final we’ll do that.

“The end result with what we had before is pretty good, there have been a few little hiccups on the way but the product we have right now is amazing.”

AT IT’S WORST: 2018 Denmark-Walpole league coach Matt Candy in the mud.
Camera IconAT IT’S WORST: 2018 Denmark-Walpole league coach Matt Candy in the mud. Credit: Albany Advertiser

GSFL president Joe Burton said there was too much risk involved with the grand final being played at McLean Park this season.

“There is just too much uncertainty around it,” he said.

“The grand final will be played at Centennial Stadium hosted by Royals.

“That way Denmark can play a full season on the oval next year and then have the grand final.

“It will be a hit financially to the club this year but the risk is not worth it.”

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