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Okon slams ’embarrassing’ Allianz pitch

By Emma Kemp, Emma Kemp is a Roar Guru

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85 Have your say

    Sydney FC have again complained to the SCG Trust about the poor state of Allianz Stadium’s pitch, lambasted as “embarrassing” by Central Coast coach Paul Okon.

    A stunned Okon declared Friday night’s 1-0 Sky Blues win should have been postponed or shifted elsewhere, and hoped the continually patchy multi-purpose surface did not rob the A-League leaders of their home advantage at the season’s most important time.

    Last month the Sydney Sevens rugby tournament was to blame, and Sydney’s fee for the surface duly waived.

    This time it was rugby league, specifically the Roosters-Bulldogs NRL clash and corresponding under-20s fixture just 24 hours prior.

    “A few weeks ago everyone was throwing their arms up and crying about the results from the Roar and the Wanderers in the ACL,” Okon said.

    “If you’re going to deliver a pitch like that we’ve got bigger problems. That was embarrassing.

    “I don’t think the game should have been held to be honest.

    “It just shows where we are as a football nation.

    “I hope for them (Sydney) it doesn’t become an issue. It would be really disappointing because they’ve been marvellous all season.

    “They deserve to be on a better pitch.”

    Sydney coach Graham Arnold was comparatively restrained but admitted the sub-standard surface had burdened his uncharacteristically tame table-toppers and suggested the under-20s league games at least be relocated.

    Defender Alex Wilkinson described it as “pretty average”.

    “The bounce, it’s difficult to play into midfield,” Wilkinson said.

    “When the pitch is like that it can turn into a scrap.”

    The situation is precisely what the Sky Blues don’t want in their final two regular-season home games, semi-final and potential grand final at the venue.

    The Roosters play Manly at Allianz the day before Sydney’s return against Melbourne City on April 1.

    And, more crucially, the NSW Waratahs host Super Rugby rivals the Blues the day before the May 7 grand final.

    That’s before factoring in the Socceroos’ crunch World Cup qualifier against the UAE on March 28, before which groundskeepers have a 10-day period to clean up the pitch after a Waratahs-Brumbies match.

    Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata confirmed the club had taken the issue up with the SCG Trust and was confident it would be in “perfect condition” come finals time.

    “I have articulated to Jamie (Barkley), the CEO, that we’re not happy with the quality of the pitch and something needs to be done about it,” Pignata told AAP.

    “We understand it is a multi-purpose (venue), but it still hasn’t recovered from the rugby sevens and we’re coming into the important part of the season for us and you’ve got the Socceroos game on March 28.

    “They need to move as many games as they can off the pitch and play what needs to be played.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (85)

    • March 11th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Michaelj said | March 11th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      The FFA should have their own ground in Sydney, even if it’s a bit less crowd capacity. It’s a wet weather sport anyway, so pitches will cut up.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 8:18am
        Matt Jones said | March 11th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        i have a spare 250 million dollar cheque, can you deliver it to the FFA?

        • March 11th 2017 @ 8:36am
          Michaelj said | March 11th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Maybe they could reduce the money they pay their imported players and find that 250 million.

          • March 11th 2017 @ 8:43am
            Michaelj said | March 11th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

            Alternatively, they may be able to pick up some land the AFL doesn’t use any more at a bargain basement price. The AFL did buy up half the vacant land in Sydney at one point.

            • March 11th 2017 @ 10:44am
              Chris said | March 11th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

              They built it but nobody came?

              • March 11th 2017 @ 11:32am
                Michaelj said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                Very good

            • March 11th 2017 @ 11:46am
              Mickyo said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

              What land did they buy ?

              • March 11th 2017 @ 3:36pm
                Michaelj said | March 11th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

                I wasn’t being literal. It was tongue in cheek. You could write to the AFL if you’re that keen to know, however.

              • March 11th 2017 @ 5:43pm
                Mickyo said | March 11th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                The AFL have never owned land in Sydney AFAIK, however the Sydney Football association owned land at Alexandria from 1911 till some time in the 1930’s which was the home of the game in Sydney, it was the Sydney equivalent of football park in both Adelaide and Canberra, Cazaly and Southport stadiums in QLD and VFL park in Melbourne.

                It was bought and payed for by Australian football

                The Australian game has a long history of building its own grounds, sometimes due to issues with cricket and sometimes wanting to be masters of their destiny.

              • March 11th 2017 @ 5:23pm
                punter said | March 11th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                The AFL just paid the government. Why else would they get such grants in NSW & QLD.

              • March 11th 2017 @ 6:39pm
                AR said | March 11th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                So the AFL “paid the government”, and in return, the government gave them money?

                Makes sense.

                You gotta love news and facts in the Trump era.

              • March 11th 2017 @ 8:04pm
                Mickyo said | March 11th 2017 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

                I read punters reply and thought do these blokes actually read what they write.

              • March 13th 2017 @ 7:30am
                punter said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

                I’d say Trump would know a thing or about paying for favours.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 9:06pm
        saul said | March 11th 2017 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

        Agree, why they ever chose that stadium that never gets filled I will never understand, I know ten years ago they were paying 250,000 a game to play there when to hire leichardt oval would’ve cost them $800, at least in a small suburban ground it would get full every game and the atmosphere would be good. Sydney FC have done nothing to connect with their supporters who don’t live in east Sydney and I think the membership in the eastern suburbs is only 9% maybe higher but even so more of there supporters live in North, South and West Sydney. Last year the SMH published membership figures of Sydney fc and where they come from.

    • March 11th 2017 @ 9:59am
      Nemesis said | March 11th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

      It’s time for ALeague clubs to get serious about operating their own stadiums.

      Especially in NSW & Qld there are dozens of RL parks, owned by councils, which the ALeague clubs can take over on a 50-99 year lease.

      Keep the stadium construction simple – single tier only.
      Rail seating behind each goal.
      Top half of one tier on the wing for corporate boxes, media & premium seating.

      NPL clubs in Victoria have their own stadiums.
      No reason ALeague clubs can’t do the same – albeit with seating & preferably covered stands all around the park.

      Cost: approximately $3,000 per seat so $100m for 30k stadium; most clubs won’t need 30k capacity.

      Funding would be a mix of
      * Fans $10k investment (installments of $1k per year for 10 years) which would also make them Life Members with reserved seat at the stadium
      * Local businesses (plumbers, builders, shop owners): $50k investment
      * Big corporates $1m
      * Governmnet $10m

      • March 11th 2017 @ 10:50am
        Waz said | March 11th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

        You’re on the money Nemesis – as wanderers are about to find out the government funded stadiums are very expensive, football is treated like a second-class citizen, and the pitch is an after thought.

        Building something in the $100-$150m range and possibly even half of that should be commercially possible if the the infrastructure is treated as more than a stadium and other revenue streams are added in such as office blocks, accomodation, hotels, conferencing etc

      • March 11th 2017 @ 12:07pm
        Pauly said | March 11th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        It’d be even better to do it without government funding, that way we could focus on our game and not have to “share” because some vested interest group lobbied the local member. Politicians have a history of ruining projects in this country.

        • March 11th 2017 @ 12:47pm
          Waz said | March 11th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          Correct – two examples would be the extra 20m of grass behind the goals the Rugby codes seem to like and the debate over safe standing which football wants but rugby doesn’t.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 11:00pm
        steve said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:00pm | ! Report

        You aren’t building a 30K seat stadium in Australia for 100 million. The most recent stadium of that size built in Australia was AAMI Park, at a cost of $265 million. The simple, single tier CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast cost $160 million and that was 11 years ago.

        Orlando City’s new purpose built for football stadium in the MLS cost them $155 million and that was for 24, 000 seats. Once you ad in the currency conversion to Australian dollars, that becomes over $205 million. And that’s before the militant, thuggish, extortionist CFMEU get their hands on it and add their 20 – 30% on top of that.

        • March 11th 2017 @ 11:12pm
          Nemesis said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

          “The most recent stadium of that size built in Australia was AAMI Park, at a cost of $265 million.”

          Well, I specifically mentioned I don’t want to build another AAMI Park – which aimed to win designer awards for innovation – but you’re too obsessed with contradicting me, you blindly jab at the keyboard hoping to score points.

          NPL clubs have built single tier grandstands at suburban venues. That’s the model I’m looking for. $100m for 30k stadium should be no problem at all. Event watchers may not like the facilities but we want to fill the terraces with football fans. Event watchers can stay home & watch BBL, or AFLW, or MasterChef.

          • March 11th 2017 @ 11:18pm
            steve said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:18pm | ! Report

            Yet interestingly you glossed over the part of my comment that mentions the simple, single tier stadium on the Gold Coast that cost 160 million 11 years ago. Not surprising though.

            • March 11th 2017 @ 11:26pm
              Nemesis said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

              I’ve just had a look at that stadium – far too fancy for what I want.

              I’d be asking MelbKnights, Hume City, Bentleigh Greens for the phone numbers to their architects, engineers & construction workers. Construction industry are very strong supporters of NPL Vic football. Probably get “mates rates”.

              • March 12th 2017 @ 1:09pm
                AR said | March 12th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

                “Construction industry are very strong supporters of NPL Vic football. Probably get “mates rates”.”


                Problem solved.

                Cheap stadiums for all!

              • March 12th 2017 @ 8:09pm
                punter said | March 12th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                You gotta love news and facts in the Trump era.

              • March 13th 2017 @ 12:01am
                AR said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:01am | ! Report

                Trump probably knows a thing or two about construction ‘mates rates’!

    • March 11th 2017 @ 10:11am
      Chris said | March 11th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      Love it when you hear the execs having a “stern word” to the SCG trust. THEY DONT CARE.
      Stop wasting your breath and start to get serious with these people. If they cant provide a pitch that is conducive to playing a decent level of football then they should pay Sydney FC compensation.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 11th 2017 @ 11:36am
        c said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        only solution is funding our own stadiums as has been mentioned multiple times (see fuss funding model above)

      • March 11th 2017 @ 12:05pm
        Pauly said | March 11th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        Another option is to move games to another stadium. Leichhardt, Brookvale, Redfern – plenty of alternatives. Create some competition and break the SCG Trust’s monopoly and arrogance.

    • March 11th 2017 @ 11:52am
      Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

      I too like your approach Nemesis.
      There are grounds around Brisbane but they would need to be granted to a club and current tenants accommodated. That’s a hurdle but passable. Location is another hurdle, with public transport access and that would require careful planning and maybe a bit of luck. But again, it should be passable hurdle.
      The fan involvement is a winner in my view. A conservative estimate of 5,000 fans buying life membership (membership in perpetuity would be better) raises $50 mil on a pay plan, half way there.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 12:49pm
        Waz said | March 11th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

        Roar at least seem to be opening up the debate and have started discussions with council as well as with fans via the recent members survey.

        • March 11th 2017 @ 1:08pm
          Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

          yes, that survey question did catch my eye

          • March 11th 2017 @ 2:47pm
            Waz said | March 11th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            They met with the new state sports minister, local polly’s and now starting with fans. I think everyone is coming to realise we can’t carry on the way we are but no one knows what the solution is.

            • March 11th 2017 @ 3:12pm
              Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

              well Waz, us fans just need to make sure our local pollies are quite aware of the situation.
              I’m a fan of the Exhibition ground – mainly from childhood memories when I attended a few sports events there, but also it’s undergoing renovation/renewal at present and it has good public access. Otherwise, maybe in the Victoria Park complex or somewhere in the Ballymore stretch of parks from Wilston and the hospital area to Newmarket (but they are flood prone, so too is Lang Park) (along with the Brisbane City NPL club that has good relations with Roar).

              • March 12th 2017 @ 12:31am
                j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 12:31am | ! Report

                Lionheart -I have commented on this subject before but I suspect it would have fallen on deaf ears.Perry Park was originally deemed the “home of soccer” and as such was greatly improved by government money. in the late 1960’s.
                What many people have forgotten is that the foundations laid at the time of these renovations were of sufficient strength to support a grandstand over the top of what is today taken as the club house.From memory that stand was to hold around 3000 people. The section in front of the present “clubhouse” was supposed to seat another 1,400.
                Many years ago when Glasgow Rangers were visiting, a temporary stand was erected across from the “clubhouse”,nothing fancy ,simply an erection on scaffolding, and from memory the crowd that day was a tad over 8,000.
                Today things have changed and the ground that extended towards the river appears to be vacant ,so that if the pitch was turned round ,and raised considerably ( to prevent flooding) I fail to see why it would cost $250million to bring it up to a standard,where it could be used by Roar in summer and Strikers in winter. Food for thought?. Cheers jb.

    • March 11th 2017 @ 1:55pm
      Lee said | March 11th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

      The truth is that asso football across this sunburnt land is a sport of working battler types. These folk don’t have money and unlike their rugby union counterparts have no history of inter-generational wealth or influence in politics.
      The only reason the mariners have their own stadium, albeit an incomplete one with only 3 sides, is that it was built for rugby league. The consequences of said poverty and lack of influence is that the a league will play on the pitches they are given as they are powerless and as such ignored.
      The a league Would no doubt seek to emulate the MLS where many teams have soccer specific boutique stadia of 30,000. However this not realistic as the a league doesn’t have the fan numbers to support this.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 2:27pm
        Nemesis said | March 11th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

        NPL clubs who pull in less than 1k fans their home matches each season have their own stadiums.

        So, common sense tells us every ALeague club can own & operate its own stadium.
        But, common sense must also be used when building the stadium.

        So, no need to spend $250m to build a 30k stadium like AAMI Park that will win awards for design & uses the most expensive materials & most expensive location.

        Build a simple stadium with 1 tier of basic seats, a basic Video Scoreboard, etc.

        If you want the stadium to be like your lounge-room may advice is: stay at home, you’re not needed on the terraces. Leave the terraces to people who want to watch the game.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm
        Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        haven’t the rugby union people walked away from their grounds? Concord oval in Sydney was once proudly Waratah’s home, as was Ballymore in Brisbane to the once proud Maoons, but neither of these grounds are used for Super Rugby or International matches and haven’t been used for anything of a decent standard for some time.
        Rugby now uses the SCG, Allianz, Suncorp and ANZ – along with everybody else. So I think you have neither done your research nor have any interest in “the truth” about “asso football”.

        • March 11th 2017 @ 3:28pm
          marcel said | March 11th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

          • March 11th 2017 @ 6:50pm
            Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

            This one’s better, cost $220 mil quite achievable under model above

            • March 11th 2017 @ 7:10pm
              AZ_RBB said | March 11th 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

              Cost of labour is significant higher in Aus. You can easily add another 10-20% on top of that.

              Parra Stadium is $300M (in AUD also mind you) which includes demolition of the old stadium for approx $10-20M (demo is expensive!) and when you factor in Parra Stadium having a further 5k more than Red Bull in Jersey. It’s kinda the same.

              • March 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm
                Ken Spacey said | March 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

                Saw a drone flyover pic of work at Parramatta with old seats crumpled and crushed. . Could they not reuse any of the seats at other venues? Been to a few AU Reds trials and FFA cup games at Marden where Adel City rolled Wanderers and there are quite a few of the old light grey seats from Hindmarsh before it was Cooperised and seats from old tent like Chappell stands at Adel Oval were open to community sport applications for re-use.

            • March 11th 2017 @ 11:12pm
              steve said | March 11th 2017 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

              220Million in todays dollars, that’s before your currency conversion which makes it $265 million Australian. That’s before the CFMEU add their 20 – 30 % extra they extort from construction companies in Australia.

          • March 12th 2017 @ 12:42am
            j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 12:42am | ! Report

            Marcel – Google Vancouver BC Place and read the Wiki and you may get an idea as to what has to be done to ensure a government owned and run stadium can meet the demands placed upon it,by it’s regular tenants, being used by 3 football codes,exhibitions, concerts etc etc etc with never a word of complaint about the facilities or the services therein. Cheers jb.

            • March 12th 2017 @ 11:28am
              marcel said | March 12th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

              Cheers JB…some interesting reading there…though the first two articles I read were Drogba refusing to play on it and the Canadian women going to court over it …so it appears that it’s not entirely complaint free.

              Do you think we are ready for artificial pitches at the elite level here in Oz?

              I watched a local game on plastic yesterday and it always seems to be missing something…the play serms slightly hesitant for want of a better description.

              • March 12th 2017 @ 11:53am
                j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                Marcel.- Strange though it may seem ,after I wrote that comment last night I turned on the TV this morning, and the sports channel was showing an international sevens rugby union tournament being played at BC Place.
                The curtains blocking off one of the grandstands were on show and the ‘Turf” showed not a single scrape even after some good heavy rugby tackles.
                The turf itself was only installed in 2015 at a cost of $1.3 million dollars and was done so at the request of FIFA so that the women’s 2015 World Cup could be held there.
                The product has FIFA Recommendation 2 star certification, so what Drogba (who no doubt played on some corkers of “pitches” in his homeland) was complaining about I don’t know but it obviously did not affect FIFA, or the players in that World Cup. Cheers jb

              • March 12th 2017 @ 12:53pm
                marcel said | March 12th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

                JB…the women actually commenced legal proceedings to stop the WC being played on artificial surfaces….but my understanding at the time it was less about the surface and more about “gender equality”…..and yes given his youth experiences Drogba does sound more than a little pampered!…I think he was concerned about an old knee injury.

                This is a good article on the technical make up the pitch ..why it is the next generation of pitch development.


                Maybe artificial turf is the way forward…certainly easier to address than Sydney land cost.

                The ” curtains” at BC Place look great…could work well at some of our larger stadia.

                I always thought that our own WC bid should have been based around providing legacy 25/30k stadia for the use of A league clubs.

              • March 12th 2017 @ 4:35pm
                j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

                Marcel – Thanks for the reply. Visited Arsenal stadium last year and on being shown round by Charlie George asked him about the pitch which looked magnificent.
                CharIIe didn’t know all the technical data but told me it was a mixture of normal and synthetic grass and was “guaranteed” to be playable all year round. He had tried it out and reckoned it was magnificent to play on.
                Technical data???? Google Arsenal stadium surface and you will get an idea of the work that goes into the preparation,building, & maintaining a football pitch. Cheers jb.

    • March 11th 2017 @ 5:42pm
      Mozart said | March 11th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

      Lionheart. An honest mistake im sure but ballymore was the gameday home to the QLD REDS RUGBY UNION club and the reds still own the facility and use it as a training venue.

      I believe the first and all state of origins held since have been at Lang Park (Suncorp Stadium) contested by the MAROONS RUGBY LEAGUE representative team.

      ONCE PROUD MAROONS knock it off. I can imagine said aloud that would get some friendly banter going on down at any brisbane pub.

      • March 11th 2017 @ 6:35pm
        Lionheart said | March 11th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

        oh Mozart, you must be so young.
        the Reds are new boys and yes, rugby still owns Ballymore but don’t play there.
        You obviously don’t remember, maybe before your time but the QLD rugby rep side, that used to play the NSW rugby rep side long before the commercial Super Rugby franchises were formed, was called the Marooons. The rugby league boys jumped on the bandwagon with State of Origin and the name Maroon drifted from union to league. Rugby emphasised the ‘ooon’ more than league do.
        So no, it’s not an honest mistake, not a mistake at all. Maybe I’m getting old but I remember those days too well, indeed I had several old friends back then who played rugby for the Maroons at Ballymore. They played Brisbane club rugby and were picked to represent their State (unlike the franchise Reds) (I played at Davies Park in those days for the old South Magpies, before they joined with Logan).
        State of Origin is a relatively new concept in this discussion son. Banter indeed!

        • March 12th 2017 @ 1:10am
          j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 1:10am | ! Report

          Lionheart – The State of Origin idea was not generated at Ballymore it actually had it’s origins in the clubhouse at Taringa Soccer club..Let me explain.
          I was coaching Taringa for a season, to help out an old friend ,Jack Speare snr, and attended a Sportsman’s night held in the clubhouse, with the guest speaker being one ,Senator Ron McAuliffe .
          As you are probably aware Mr McAuliffe was also the top man in Qld. Rugby League and during the after talk drinks I was approached by my team captain ,a Mr Nils Larsen and asked if I could answer a question the Senator had asked him. I agreed to try and was taken over to be introduced to the senator.
          His question to me was thus,” I watch the English soccer programme on SBS and I noted that the players George Best and Dennis Law both play in England and yet play for Northern Ireland and Scotland.Why is that.????”.
          Now to appreciate the question you will remember that State matches between NSW and Qld up to that time had been one horse races with the NSW teams using Old players who had gone to Sydney to play for the better money. The outcome Queenslanders were playing against Queenslanders.
          Back to Ron McAuliffe’s question and the all important answer. I simply told him that Best had been born in Northern Ireland and Law had been born in Scotland and therefore played international football for their country of “Origin”, despite playing most of their club football in England.
          I’ll never forget the look on the Senators face when he listened to this,suffice to say, he snapped his fingers,mumbling something like, “that’s the answer,” thanked me, and 2 years later the State of Origin as we know it today commenced.
          I always find it amusing when I listen to pundits in the game pontificate on how State of Origin started. Cheers jb.

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2017 @ 11:26am
            Ben of Phnom Penh said | March 12th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            I believe the Aussie Rules State of Origin started in the mid-late 70’s, primarily due to the decline in the quality of the interstate matches due to so many players congregating in the VFL. I have no idea if that had any influence on the League version which started a few years later, and by what you mention, jb, it may not have.

            • March 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm
              j binnie said | March 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              Ben – I should have mentioned Senator Ron McAulife was no fool, and recognised that the “inter-state series” could not last ,what with the hidings Queensland were getting ,no doubt resulting in the terrible crowds the games were attracting ., especially in Sydney.
              I have always given the man credit for sorting out a question in his mind and turning it around to create what has become a date on the social calendar, and the biggest money spinner in Rugby League.
              The man should have a bronze statue in front of Suncorp for it was his reform of the series that has made millions for RL. Cheers jb.

              • March 12th 2017 @ 9:26pm
                Lionheart said | March 12th 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

                thanks for that JB. Note that I wasn’t suggesting Ballymore had a role in the league state of origin though, but that the (rugby union) maroons played there well before the league boys used the name maroon. But I thoroughly enjoyed your story, and your part in that game;s evolution.

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