PARENTS from the East Fremantle Junior Football Club say they’ve been forced to “couch surf” footy grounds after a botched returfing left their home ground unplayable this season.
The club normally trains and plays at Henry Jeffery Oval on Preston Point Road, and in September last year the council got a contractor to remove the grass, re-level the surface and implant grass stolons (root systems that spread above ground).
But the council says another external contractor had already damaged the oval’s reticulation and didn’t let them know.
“This left major areas of the oval unreticulated, impacting the growth of the grass stolons,” a spokesperson said. “Roll-on turf has been installed near both goals, and in areas that have struggled to grow.”
The council says a year earlier it had used the same stolon technique on the neighbouring Preston Point Oval and that’s now looking lush and green.
But footy-mad parent Mark says there’s more to the story.
“Earlier this year they realised that they had taken too much soil out and left a concrete cricket pitch too high in the middle of the ground and had concrete protruding out of the ground around all the goal posts,” he said.
“Then they tried to patch it up with sand and other turf implants and failed. Incredibly, on top of that, the ground is still full of potholes and slopes.”
Mark said the WA Football Commission inspected the oval and deemed it unsafe, “effectively ruling it out from use for the entire 2022 season”, although the Herald was unable to verify this and the council said it hadn’t heard from them.
“The disruption has put a huge strain on every kid, volunteer and parent as we manage around randomly changing playing and training locations as we effectively ‘couch surf’ through the season,” Mark said.
“What I find most disappointing though is the lack of accountability and support from the council.”
The council spokesperson said they had liaised with other clubs and Fremantle council to help the East Freo youngster with alternative training fields. It was also still working to get the oval ready to play.
“Rye grass seeding and other nutrients are being installed this week,” they said.
“Works around the cricket pitch, including another section of roll-on turf in an area that is not growing are being undertaken next week.
“The ground will be ready to play on by the weekend of Saturday 18 June / Sunday 19 June, as previously communicated to the East Fremantle Junior Football Club.
The club said it wanted to work with the council to resolve the situation and didn’t want to comment.
by STEVE GRANT