Maitland Magpies defend washout call as Coalfields Derby tensions intensify

RD 7: Saturday: Edgeworth v Hamilton (6pm), Maitland v Valentine (7.30pm). Sunday: Charlestown v Jaffas, Weston v Jets Youth. Tuesday: Adamstown v Magic.
RD 7: Saturday: Edgeworth v Hamilton (6pm), Maitland v Valentine (7.30pm). Sunday: Charlestown v Jaffas, Weston v Jets Youth. Tuesday: Adamstown v Magic.

Maitland football manager Mick Mirisch has defended the club’s decision not accept Weston’s approach to potentially host last Friday’s match, which was eventually washed out in the latest episode of the farcical situation at Cooks Square Park.

Drainage problems at the ground and untimely showers have led to all of Maitland’s home games being washed out as the NPL approaches round seven.

Bears coach Steve Piggott, who parted ways with Maitland last season, was critical of the Magpies’ decision not to swap fixtures and play Friday’s game at Weston Park. He was also disappointed no attempt was made to move the game to a later date over the long weekend. 

“I just don’t think they wanted to play, and did they explore all other avenues?” Piggott said.

Mirisch said he spoke to Weston president Rod Henderson at lunchtime Wednesday about the possible switch but, after consultation with his committee, responded later that they would “give it a go ourselves”. He said Henderson indicated then that Weston would not have their ground ready anyway because of the recent sowing of rye grass.

Mirisch also hit back at social media comments that the club didn’t want to play because it was their fourth game in nine days or key players might be out. He said his players and the club wanted the game on. 

“We’ve probably lost $10,000 over the three washouts, which we will never get back because those games are now midweek and you get smaller gate and canteen takings,” he said. “There’s no benefit from doing it.” 

He said moving the game to the weekend wouldn’t have been allowed because of referee unavailability.

Maitland president Ray Watkins took to the club’s Facebook page to defend their handling of the washouts .... 

Public Announcement


To Maitland Football Club Members and Supporters,

It is unfortunate that I find it necessary to write this notice, but I do so in the interest of supporting the credibility, of not just our Football Club, but also the many fine people that work so hard to further the best interests of the club.

Today, it was necessary for us to again announce that Cooks Square Park is unfit for match play, and in fact, is closed. Today was scheduled our annual derby game against the Weston Bears – a fixture much anticipated throughout the region.

The committee has been bombarded by both social media and personal contacts from ill-informed persons from both inside and outside the club, making incorrect comments and accusations about our motives for the ground being closed.

So can I take this opportunity to bring some credible facts into the public forum?

Cooks Square Park is owned and controlled by Maitland Council, and whilst we have exclusive access to it, we are accountable to them, for its care. There have been instances where, we have played, and they have considered that the ground was not fit for use, and we have incurred fines and limited access to its maintenance.

The amount of rain that has fallen in Maitland during March and April, has been unprecedented. At the start of that period the park was quite dry, but the volume has absolutely saturated the surface and subsurface. Consequently, the park has been very slow to recover. There was a meeting earlier this week at the park, attended by representatives from Maitland City Council, NNSWF and MFC, to discuss what options are possible to improve the drainage. It is believed that since the surround of the field was concreted, it may be having a negative impact on the drainage process. It was also noted that there is an under surface drain in place, that may not be effective. The representative from the council has committed to follow up on these issues to see if they can provide an easy solution.

Paul Osland, apart from filling other roles for the club is groundsman at Cooks. Paul has 50 years’ experience with the ground, and over the last couple of years has been on duty almost every day. Paul was at the ground yesterday, when council were mowing. The ground had been closed all week, and this was the first opportunity to mow. During the middle part of the day, and during mowing, the ground was hit by 2 major downpours. In the view of the council worker, there was no way the ground would recover by today, and in fact such was the surface water that Paul’s ‘ride on’ got bogged on the ground. The inclination was to call the games off last night, but in the interests of trying to give every opportunity to play, a final decision was held over until this morning. Comments made on Facebook, saying that because ‘Cooks Square is on a hill it would have good drainage’, are just beyond belief in their degree of ignorance, and similarly those making the claim, “that there had been no rain in Maitland for days”.

I note also that other NPL grounds today are closed for play, as is our NEWFM neighbour Thornton’s home games postponed.

We are a Football club, we are here to play football. Every time we make a decision to postpone a game, we inherit a tremendous amount of extra work, in communicating and reorganising. When games are transferred, or rescheduled to night games, the club loses a substantial amount of revenue. As a committee there is no logical and factual reason that motivates us to not play a game, yet through the ‘uninformed and deliberately trouble making minority’ the club and its people are unfairly branded.

Everyone hopes that the rainy season is behind us now, and we can move forward in a positive attitude, of enjoying the highs and lows of playing football, which is what true fans of the game look forward to.

Yours in Sport

Ray Watkins




Discuss "Tensions rise in Coalfields over washout"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.