AFL VICTORIA has classed one of Bendigo’s premier sporting facilities “unfit for TAC Cup football”.
The Bendigo Pioneers’ Round 9 match at the weekend against Dandenong Southern Stingrays was moved to the Queen Elizabeth Oval, because the surface at Epsom-Huntly Recreation Reserve was not up to standard.
Leigh Byrne of the Bendigo Pioneers said there are significant areas of very little to no grass coverage on the Epsom-Huntly oval.
Mr Byrne said 60-70 per cent of the ground is fine, but that are a real concern both for the Pioneers and visiting teams.
“It’s mainly the city teams who are understandably a bit pedantic about ground conditions due to the number of players they have in draft contention, whereas we don’t have such a problem with it,” he said.
Not only is it an issue of player safety, but the relocation is a major inconvenience for the Pioneers’ travelling players.
“We train on the ground out there three times a week, and to be playing on it every weekend would be a huge advantage,” Byrne said.
“We have players coming from Mildura and our region extends up to Broken Hill, and the QEO isn’t always available so to have to relocate games to Craigieburn or Oakleigh would certainly not be ideal.
“It is a relatively new ground being only 12 months old, so we do expect for the ground’s grass coverage to improve with time.”
Byrne said that the region manager of the Pioneers’ next opponents, the Geelong Falcons, has expressed concerns about the ground already, ahead of their July 2 matchup.
Comment is being sought from council.