Atwell Reserve: life’s a pitch for footy club opposed to new synthetic cricket pitch


Atwell Reserve. Picture: Jon Hewson
Atwell Reserve. Picture: Jon Hewson

TWO synthetic cricket pitches will be installed at Atwell Reserve for the 2016-17 season, despite opposition from two established football clubs.

The reserve on Brenchley Drive, which is close to 4ha in size, is home to two football clubs and two cricket clubs.

At the City of Cockburn’s July ordinary council meeting, representatives from the junior and senior Jandakot Cricket Clubs called for the installation of two cricket pitches at the reserve to help accommodate a growing player base of about 450 players.

They also called for extra training nets and shelter.

“The installation of two pitches will allow both (junior and senior cricket) clubs to sustain current membership and continue to grow, giving us an increased presence in the community,” a spokesman for the cricket clubs said on the night.

“Without the two pitches, the juniors and seniors will have to turn members away.”

The junior and senior divisions of the Jandakot Jets Football Club opposed the placement of cricket pitches near the centre of the two current football grounds, although the senior club was open to it if the City and cricket clubs followed strict guidelines.

In a letter to council, Jandakot Jets Junior Football Club president Craig Reynolds said his club had concerns with hardness of the ground, drainage, surface movement, trip hazards and the possibility of an uneven surface if the pitches, which are concrete slabs with synthetic grass laid over the top, were put in.

“I was shown a number of different methods for covering pitches (during the winter) but I still do not feel these adequately protect players from the risk of injury,” he said.

“I’m not concerned about other councils and their practices and I believe there are inherent risks with placing concrete pitches on football ovals and covering them in the football season.”

Atwell Reserve is the only reserve in Cockburn shared by cricket and football where a cricket pitch is not located on a football oval.

In a report to councillors, Cockburn’s recreation and community safety manager Rob Avard backed having two pitches.

He said it was common practice at a number of other local governments to co-locate cricket pitches on football ovals and said they could be covered with natural turf in the winter when football is played.

“It is evident that the cricket clubs and the football clubs that use Atwell reserve have strong opposing views on the placement of cricket pitches on football grounds,” he said.

“A natural turf placed over a pitch for the football season is considered the best option for player safety.

“It is recommended, given the limited number of opportunities the City has to develop two cricket pitches on the one reserve within the City – together with the growth experienced by the two Jandakot Cricket Clubs – a second pitch at Atwell Reserve be supported.”