WHAT should have been a Winter Wonderland for local football players has become more of a Winter of Discontent – but there remains the promise of better times ahead.
The season started with high hopes that games would soon be played on the redeveloped fields at Proctor Park and by mid-June that’s exactly what was happening.
But not for long.
Within weeks of the redeveloped grounds being used for the first time serious problems emerged.
And by early July Bathurst Regional Council was forced to shut the fields to give the newly-laid turf “more time to develop”.
“As a result we regret to inform you that field one, two and three at Proctor Park have been closed indefinitely,” an email to local clubs said.
“It is hoped that with more time and good weather toward the end of the year, that limited use may be available late in the season.”
We’re still waiting to see, but players remain hopeful.
At the same time, the secondary football fields at Police Paddock have also suffered under the strain of increased use and, no doubt, the extraordinary run of dry weather that has gripped the region.
The official line from council is that the fields are coping with the extra wear and tear but many local players see it differently.
The Western Advocate has heard reports of an increase in minor injuries as a result of the dry conditions but it’s understandable that those reports have not made their way to council.
But there remains light at the end of the tunnel for football in Bathurst.
The closure of the main fields at Proctor Park so soon after they reopened was certainly disappointing, but must be seen in a broader context.
Council has committed to a $7.4 million redevelopment of the Proctor Park precinct that includes the redevelopment of the playing surfaces, upgraded lighting and a complete redevelopment of the car park.
There will be new amenities rooms and a $3 million development of the main grandstand, along with council’s purchase of adjoining land to create new fields.
Once completed, the Proctor Park complex will be the equal of any in regional NSW – even if it is taking longer than we’d hoped to get there.
Good things come to those who wait.