CLARKSTON Ray can remember the days of Westerns forking out $500 a week just to train under lights — because they were as recent as last season.
The Kangaroos were regularly training at Nelson Park because their Alexandra Park home was living up to its reputation as a mudbath.
“It’s all right at the start of the year but June, July, August it starts getting boggy and becomes a mud heap,” Ray said.
“There’s no nicer words to say about it. It gets to the point where we can’t train on it. We’ve had to use what grounds were available, but there aren’t many football grounds available to us. So we’d use Nelson Park, which is a hockey ground.
“It’s drainage is excellent but it has no lights. We’ve had to hire lights or have a sponsorship agreement with a hire company.”
The days of shifting training sessions to keep its players fresh are soon to be behind the South West District league club.
The state government yesterday announced a $160,000 upgrade to improve the playing surface at Alexandra Park.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said $100,000 would come from the Country Football Netball Program.
Glenelg Shire Council is contributing $60,000 and Westerns Football Netball Club is contributing through in-kind work.
Ray said he was rapt the project, which will replace the 1970s terracotta pipes and redirect water away from the oval, was finally going ahead.
“The council had consultants look at the ground two years ago. The recommendation came back that these are the works you specifically need to do,” he said.
Napthine said he was confident the works would be completed by the start of the 2014 football season.
West Portland Junior Football Club and Gorae-Portland Cricket Club are co-tenants of the Alexandra Park oval.
The reserve is also home to the Portland BMX Club and Portland Greyhound Racing Club.