"The fellow looked me in the eye and said 'Val, you know, this floor will last you 30 years'."
The story of the netball courts at The Val Bertrand Stadium on Warrnambool's Caramut Road is the stuff of legend.
Thirty years ago Val Bertrand and a committed team were researching for the construction of a new stadium.
They visited a Melbourne school with a springy gransprung floor and one of the staff members assured Bertrand it was good for the long haul.
So the team ordered the gransprung flooring from England and eagerly awaited its arrival.
But the tiles didn't make it in time for the grand opening of the netball stadium in November 1989.
"Two days away from it being open we didn't have that (the floor) on there," Bertrand said.
"We didn't have them for another week, those tiles.
"They were sitting in the bay, there was a strike at the wharf (in Melbourne) and the tiles were in boxes on that ship."
The Warrnambool City Netball Association (WCNA) didn't let the issue hold up the stadium's opening ceremony.
"The floor was just ply," Bertrand said.
"We had a demonstration match and we had it (the ply) marked with yellow lines.
"If you were to take the tiles off, you'd see a netball court marked on that court."
The gransprung flooring made its way to the stadium in the following weeks.
On Saturday all those who have been involved in The Val Bertrand Stadium will have the chance to reminisce about tales like how the flooring arrived at the stadium.
The WCNA is celebrating 30 years of its stadium by inviting everyone to come to an afternoon tea that will be from 2pm to 5pm.
"We'll start off with some demonstrations of our NetSetGo program," Bertrand said.
"We'll have our all abilities participating.
"Our pickleball will be on show, our indoor bias bowls will be on show and people can have a go at those sports.
"We're going to have walking netball to finish the day where everyone can have a go."
There will also be a big birthday cake and memorabilia and historic record books on display.
The WCNA has plenty of history to look back on.
"It was hard going," Bertrand said.
"Back in the '80s, with the 'netball girls' as the councillors used to call us.
"We used go in and thump the table and say that we needed a new venue."
Betrand said she was proud of everyone involved in the search to find the WCNA a suitable home.
She added she was grateful to the Warrnambool City Council for its involvement in the making of the complex.
Bertrand said the WCNA was based at Temperance Hall (1960s) and then on cement floors at the showgrounds (1970s-80s) before the move to Caramut Road.
She said the project, about 10 years in the making, cost one million dollars.
"We came under budget by $12," she said.
The floors, carpet, grandstand and chairs remain from 1989.
"It has stood the test of time," Bertrand said.
The stadium, which works in cooperation with The Arc basketball stadium next door, has hosted major events over the years including the Trans-Tasman Netball Series, state netball championships, South West Games opening ceremonies and Australian Indoor Bowls Championships.
Approximate history of netball in Warrnambool
- 1940s Played at the skating rink/Jetty Flat
- 1960s Moved to Temperance Hall
- 1970s-80s Moved to the showgrounds and saleyards
- 1980s Investigation into possible sites for a netball complex
- 1988 Funding level reached, Caramut Road site selected, building commences
- 1989 Grand opening, netball starts, all abilities netball starts
- 1991 Indoor Bowls moves to the stadium
- 2017 Wheelchair Basketball Corporate Cup, Balloon football
- 2018 pickleball commences
- 2019 30-year celebrations
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