Magpies start new season without their nest

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Denmark-Walpole co-coaches Simon Barker and Ryan Gaerth with the temporary lighting used at training.
Camera IconDenmark-Walpole co-coaches Simon Barker and Ryan Gaerth with the temporary lighting used at training. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

New Denmark-Walpole co-coach Ryan Gaerth says his side has had a less than ideal pre-season in the lead-up to the 2019 Great Southern Football League season after upgrades to McLean Park have been delayed.

The Magpies have appointed senior pair Gaerth and Simon Barker as joint league coaches to replace Matt Candy this season but they have faced some adversity in their first few months in charge.

McLean Park is undergoing redevelopment and work was initially hoped to be finished in the early weeks of the GSFL season.

The program was set back a few weeks after the discovery of rock, but the Shire of Denmark is confident the venue will be ready for use in the second half of the year.

The Magpies’ weekly training is being run at the Denmark High School oval, which doesn’t have lights, leaving the club to source temporary lighting to train at night.

The delay will leave the Magpies unable to play their home games in the early part of the season, meaning they will either swap with rival clubs to play away games at the start, or the possibility of matches in Walpole is being discussed.

“Look, it is not ideal, but the boys have been pretty good with it all,” Gaerth said.

“It’s not the end of the world.

“We had a guy coming down doing fitness work for the first eight weeks with a 40-minute session and when we got back to the oval it would basically be dark, so that was pretty tough.

“We have one portable light tower and the Shire is helping us with another one which we should have next week and that will help us do a bit more ball work.

“We’ve been starting early at 5pm to try and catch a bit of daylight.”

Redevelopment of McLean Park in Denmark.
Camera IconRedevelopment of McLean Park in Denmark. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The Magpies are allocated this year’s GSFL grand final on September 15 and Gaerth said that was the main priority.

“We are going to miss out on the first half of the year, gate takings and people coming back to the club,” he said.

“We are going to miss out on a lot, so we need that grand final to happen — that’s the main thing.”

Shire of Denmark acting chief executive Cary Green confirmed workers had hit rock but the aim was to have competitive sport back there on June 30.

“We hit rock and that put the program back by about three weeks,” he said. “We’re taking a very conservative approach to when we hand that over to sports and we’ll be getting the turf specialists in to give us an exact timeframe as to when they believe we’ll be able to play sport on that and at what level.

“By the 30th of June we believe that the site will be available to play competition on. It really does depend on that final examination from the turf specialists.

“We have full confidence that this oval will be available for the grand final.

“The Shire is 100 per cent committed to hosting the grand final and we’re also 100 per cent committed to providing the oval fit-for-purpose for potentially the second half of the season.”

Green said they would be hiring a tower for the club to use at training and the issue affected other codes like soccer, but confirmed they would keep all parties communicated with the progress.

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