Sounness Park surface causes final rethink

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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The current state of the Sounness Park playing surface will force Mt Barker to play a likely home final at another venue, with the Great Southern Football League set to grant the Bulls’ request of a fixture change.

The Bulls sit third on the ladder ahead of their final round clash with Railways at Sounness Park this Saturday and will either finish in third spot or win their way into the top two, depending on the result of the North Albany and Royals clash.

Sounness Park prior to the pre-season AFL match.
Camera IconSounness Park prior to the pre-season AFL match.

Unless the Bulls finish second and win the second semifinal to qualify directly into the grand final, the Bulls will have the right to host a home final by finishing third, losing the second semifinal and hosting the preliminary final, or finishing on top.

The Bulls lost to the Kangas last Saturday at Sounness Park, with the standard of the game hampered by heavy mud and puddles of water across large parts of the worn oval surface.

Following the match Bulls coach Shane Thompson was critical of the surface, his thoughts echoed by Kangas coach Craig Dew.

The ground was host to an AFL pre-season match between Fremantle and Adelaide in February 2016.

Sounness Park prior to the pre-season AFL match.
Camera IconSounness Park prior to the pre-season AFL match.

The Shire of Plantagenet, which manages the facility, met with Bulls president Gordon Reid this week and a decision is likely to be made with the support of the GSFL following round 15 at the weekend.

Thompson confirmed the Bulls would be asking to play their final elsewhere should they earn the right to host one.

“The oval was in good condition last week and I don’t see it changing much,” he said. “It’s not fair on our players and not fair on the other clubs who have to play on it, especially a final. From the way it was to the state of it now, something has to be done.”

Mud and water on Sounness Park.
Camera IconMud and water on Sounness Park. Credit: Albany Advertiser

GSFL president Joe Burton visited the ground this week and said the Bulls’ home game against the Tigers was certain to be played at Sounness Park but a final there was highly unlikely.

“That’s what they’ve talked about, there is nothing official yet,” he said. “It’s pretty ordinary, the ground, so we will make a decision straight after this weekend.

“The likelihood is they will play all finals in Albany.”

Shire of Plantagenet chief executive Rob Stewart said spraying for winter grass, a black beetle infestation and heavy rain had been factors but the late drainage work and managing the turf and its usage were issues they needed to address.

Drainage work can still be seen at Sounness Park.
Camera IconDrainage work can still be seen at Sounness Park. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“I’m not happy with the condition of the ground,” he said.

“The oval has had a lot of use and evidently we haven’t done enough to manage the turf and how it’s been used and we should have taken a stronger position on these issues.

“Any fault here, it’s with us and that sub-soil drainage was put in at the wrong time.”

The Kangas host the Lions at Collingwood Park on Saturday and the winner is almost certain to claim the minor premiership and home second semifinal.

Lions midfielder Dave Parker looks to have escaped a serious knee injury, with a strained medial ligament ruling him out for between two and four weeks.

Albany host Denmark-Walpole in the other round 15 clash.

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