Thirroul Butchers chase Gibson Park upgrade
Defending premiers Thirroul have taken the first step in ensuring their long-term future at Gibson Park.
The Butchers have had plenty of success on the field in recent seasons but the ‘Father Time’ has not been kind to their spiritual home, which has had no major renovationsince 1968. They have won seven premierships in that time utilising the same ‘aged’ grandstand dressing sheds and canteen facilities. There are no toilets on site, and the club’s equipment is kept in two shipping containers.
Keira MP Ryan Park visited the ground on Monday to meet with club officials and agreed the ground was in need of immediate work.
‘‘It’s pretty clear that it’s in desperate need of [an] upgrade,’’ Mr Park said.
‘‘This has been a great club for the Illawarra, particularly in the Northern Suburbs. It’s been very successful on the park, but what we need to now do is work together to improve the amenities, not only for players and officials but just as importantly spectators that are coming to support the Butchers.
‘‘Upgrades to toilet facilities, new storage and improvements to the grandstand and surrounds are really important for a club at this level to survive and thrive going forward.’’
The club is in the early stages of planning upgrades that may take years to complete and will rely on successfully bidding for local and state government funds.
The NRL also provides grassroots funding for regional facilities upgrades, and the club - and the Illawarra Rugby League - will look to dip into that pool.
The Butchers boast one of the most loyal fan-bases in the Illawarra, but the facilities limit its ability to host large crowds.
Butchers committee member Ross Sharrock said the club had to move quickly to avoid a deterioration of facilities that would make theground unusable.
‘‘This facility hasn’t been touched since 1968,’’ Sharrock said.
‘‘We want to upgrade the facilities to make them of a 2015 vintage and beyond.
‘‘It makes it difficult to attract spectators here to the ground, so therefore we don’t get that revenue; we can’t hold rep games here, so we’re missing out on those revenue streams to keep the club viable into the future.
‘‘It’s a credit to the club that it has done so well over the years given the facilities and the like, but this is about moving forward to make sure the Butchers cannot only survive but thrive into the future.’’
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 3/3/2015