SAFETY fears for campers and their equipment have scuppered plans for an elite under 18 football match to be played at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval on Easter Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

The south-west’s TAC Cup sides North Ballarat Rebels and Geelong Falcons were scheduled to meet at Port Fairy but organisers have been forced to relocate the game to Warrnambool’s Reid Oval.

Rebels regional manager Phil Partington said they had no choice but to abandon the Gardens Oval fixture after issues were raised by Moyne Shire.

“There were a few safety concerns with campers around the ground, especially behind the goals,” Partington told The Standard.

“We had quite a few meetings with the Port Fairy Football Club and the council felt it was too much of a risk to have it on Easter Saturday with so many campers and caravans there if one was damaged or if a person got hit with a football.”

Partington said the Rebels, who annually hold a game in the south-west, would continue to look at Port Fairy as a possible host.

“We are keen to hold a game at Port Fairy. It might not happen to be Easter Saturday,” he said.

“Just on the promotion of the TAC Cup’s 21st birthday, we thought the crowd and population in the town of Port Fairy, a TAC Cup game would have been great.”

Moyne Shire recreation officer Gerard Auld said he was as disappointed as anyone the game could not go ahead.

“Around three quarters of the oval, campers are going to be camping up against the rail,” Auld said.

“It would be great for Port Fairy and great for the AFL to bring it here, but it would be the same if you were at home with your family on Easter Saturday or Easter Sunday having a meal and a football went straight through the shade sail and landed on the table, sending everything everywhere.

“I doubt you would give the football back to your neighbour.

“We’ve got people who have been booked in for years and we have no idea whether they even like football.”

Auld said liability would have fallen on the Port Fairy club but under its insurance it was only covered for one claim.

“It may not happen, but if it does, people will be looking to council for money,” he said.

“Our risk assessment people have said the risk is too great.”

Auld said the shire had looked at installing temporary netting behind the goals but it would cost $20,000 to do it properly.

“And that was only going to be temporary,” he said.

He said the shire was keen for such a match to be held at the venue in the future and it would look into installing permanent nets behind the goals.

Partington said the Rebels had been fortunate to be able to switch the game to Reid Oval, which initially hadn’t been available. But after East Warrnambool and Deakin University moved their opening game to this Sunday, it opened up Reid Oval for use on Easter Saturday.

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