Sport

Restore club to its heyday

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September 30, 2017

There was standing room only as two heavy-hitting A-League sides clashed at McEwen Reserve in Shepparton on Friday night.

The chance to see the next bright lights of the A-League shine meant the game was sold out in the lead-up to the season opener on October 6.

So does no-one care about the beautiful game in Benalla?

We’re just 45 minutes down the road from the newly-refurbished sporting complex. A complex that is part of a wider sporting precinct, worth $20million.

The City-Wanderers match marked the first of many events like it at the international-standard facility.

The charge on the gate was just $15, a steal to watch the next Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell or Mark Viduka play just metres away.

Now, I’m not saying that I was the only one from Benalla at the match, but the want and need for football in Benalla is a stark contrast to what was seen in Shepparton.

When I first arrived here, I attended a Benalla Rovers training session where I was told there was a time when the club was the envy of the region.

It was hard to believe what they were saying as I looked out to see a handful of children, mostly under 10, hoof a ball around under the tutelage of club stalwart Jo Cooper.

The Rovers’ junior set-up was once so strong that players would often be lured off to bigger and better things, which as an amateur club is all you can ask for.

But times have changed. The dreaded day came not long ago, a day that small clubs tend to face nowadays.

The drivers behind the club had enough of volunteering their time, drained of the responsibilities running a club has, and called it quits.

This year the Rovers did not even compete in a registered league such as Goulburn North East Football Association or Albury Wodonga Football Association as they once did so successfully.

Next month Rovers will hold a social seven-a-side tournament on Monday nights at Churchill Reserve.

How do I know? Because I’m putting a team forward. As it transpires, ours is one of just two teams to have registered interest.

If you care about the beautiful game, show it. Get involved with the Rovers and be a part of a revitalisation the club so desperately needs.

Who knows? One day an A-League pre-season match could be held at Churchill Reserve, and Benalla could once again be the envy of the Goulburn Valley.

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