Bellarine grounds win praise from AFL Victoria
THE region is still feeling the sting of Sunday’s announcement with AFL Barwon cancelling the remainder of its 2021 fixtures due to the Victorian Government’s Roadmap.
However, last week, several clubs based on the Bellarine were recognised by AFL Victoria for possessing some of the state’s most picturesque grounds, following hundreds of submissions to the sporting body’s social media accounts.
Queenscliff Recreation Reserve, Mortimer Oval and Howard Harmer Oval were special mentions in AFL Victoria’s announcement a week ago, boasting some of the region’s most unique homes for the sport.
AFL Barwon’s acting commercial partnerships manager Nathan Ervin says under their umbrella there are three leagues that provide for a great mix of city, coastal and rural communities and with these come some extraordinary grounds.
“The footy and netball clubs are the heartbeat of these communities,” Ervin said.
“The grounds the clubs compete on are a direct representation of them, each with their own quirks to make them special in their own right and ensure the players of the past have a meeting point to share the history made on these grounds.”
The Drysdale Hawks’ Mortimer Oval has been the proud stage for numerous Bellarine Football League Grand Finals in the past.
Located within Drysdale Recreation Reserve, it boasts a beautiful amphitheatre on the north side of the ground acting as a grandstand surrounding almost half the field providing for mass crowds during primetime events.
The southwestern side of the ground is also protected with a formidable tree line to limit the harsh winds coming in off the coast making play suitable on any day.
“It’s a beautiful spot to watch a game of footy in all conditions, and it allows the game to be played where it gives the players the best chance to shine,” Drysdale president David Walker said.
“Even in winter on an ordinary day, it’s a beautiful spot to watch the footy, it’s just fantastic.”
The Borough of Queenscliffe is known for being picturesque in general and Queenscliffe Recreational Reserve is a testament to that.
Located in the heart of Queenscliff, surrounded by the area’s caravan park and a short walk to Shortland Bluff, the home of the Coutas is as close to the water as it gets, aptly nicknamed “The Coutabowl”.
“What makes our ground unique is that it’s a genuine community oval and a true public space,” Queenscliff president Rowan Martin said.
“We share it with the cricket club, the netball club and other sports clubs, and it has only been enhanced over the past number of years thanks to the hard work done by previous committees and the community.”
Martin was first to admit it’s not a perfectly flat ground as it runs up a slight hill on the northern boundary and exhibits a more circular shape than most other grounds, which only adds to the oval’s character he added.
Last and certainly not least, the Barwon Heads Seagulls’ Howard Harmer Oval which is nestled beside the Barwon River, adds its own uniqueness to the fray from its famous “Hill” and “quirky” entrance to its notoriously smaller size.
“There’s something in ‘place’ at football clubs,” said Barwon Heads president Tim Goddard.
“It comes as a result of where you are, where you have been, where your first games were, where you train and where you have won and lost.
“There’s a real sense of ‘place’ at Barwon Heads and we feel that. There’s history there and that’s what we love about it.
“And the tree on the wing – it looks after us if you like,” Goddard said.