North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club oval likely not available for 2018 home games

STILL NO END IN SIGHT: North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve user groups continue to be affected 15 months after tests revealed lead contamination at the ground.
STILL NO END IN SIGHT: North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve user groups continue to be affected 15 months after tests revealed lead contamination at the ground.
John O'Donohue

John O'Donohue

NORTH Wangaratta Football and Netball Club is preparing for another season without full use of its oval because of lead contamination.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria said this week the clean-up timetable at North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve, where lead was detected 15 months ago, had not been confirmed.

It’s a really unfortunate situation that the club finds themselves in through no fault of their own, there’s a high level of frustration that they’ve had to bear this

John O'Donohue

But the football/netball club and AFL North East Border both said it seemed less and less likely home games could return in the 2018 season as had been hoped.

The Hawks could only resume training there at the start of this season. Part of the ground remained fenced off and alternative venues used for home games. The senior football team has not won this season.

AFL North East regional general manager John O’Donohue said details of the clean-up plan lay in the hands of authorities.

“As far as time frame goes, we’re always hoping that it will be sooner rather than later but it appears that next (season) will probably be out of the equation as well,” he said. “It’s a really unfortunate situation that the club finds themselves in through no fault of their own, there’s a high level of frustration that they’ve had to bear this.”

The lead contamination came from past skeet shooting practices of Wangaratta Clay Target Club.

EPA North East manager Emma Knights said the authority aimed for a clean-up process that ensured public safety and reopened the reserve as soon as possible.

“At this stage no firm date has been finalised,” she said.

North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club president Nate Bartlett said the club was disappointed by the situation.

“How do you find new players to come to the club where that's happening?” he said. “It’s very disheartening to cop a flogging every week and you can’t put a game plan together because you don’t have a full ground to train on. Who knows what the future holds?”