Newbridge returns home
IF NEWBRIDGE had lost all three football and five netball games at Riverside Park on Saturday, it wouldn't have mattered.
For the first time since August 2010, the Maroons ran out on to their home ground and netball courts in their Loddon Valley league matches against Marong.
It has been 16 months since floods tore through the tiny Central Victorian town, reducing Newbridge's footy and netball facilities to little more than rubble.
Newbridge secretary Peter Lakey said while the club was happy to be home, the recovery was far from over.
Riverside Park remains a hodge-podge of portable buildings and earthworks, awaiting a new $1.4 million base for Newbridge's football, netball, tennis and cricket clubs.
"We're still hanging out for the announcement of the successful tenderer for the new facility," Lakey said.
"It's been a frustrating time dealing with bureaucracy, but you've got to just roll with the punches sometimes."
Lakey said it was a great delight for the Maroons to officially open their new netball courts at the weekend.
"It was the start of a new beginning for us, having the courts open, and I can't praise (football president) Ron Trimble and (netball president) Mandy Dixon enough for their hard work in getting them up and going."
Trimble, the public face of the Maroons' plight and last year's VCFL volunteer of the year, is on a hard-earned fishing break in Queensland.
Lakey said Trimble was one of many at Newbridge who breathed a sigh of relief at the end of last season, when the Maroons played all their home games 40km away at Golden Square.
"The supporters are a very hardy lot, so we had pretty good support last year. But the hardest part was transporting the club every week - all the catering, the medical gear, everything had to be moved," he said. "It's very exciting for everyone to be back at home."
Lakey said the Maroons' new facilities could be finished by Christmas.
"Once the building starts to go up and we can see some progress, it'll just give people that bit of a kick," he said.