‘Bring the grand final to Spooner’: Forbes boss backs Group 11’s change of heart

BIG DAY OUT: Forbes' Hayden Bolam in action during a bumper crowd at Parkes' Pioneer Oval during last season's final series. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
BIG DAY OUT: Forbes' Hayden Bolam in action during a bumper crowd at Parkes' Pioneer Oval during last season's final series. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Magpies president Greg Grogan and Spacemen supremo Andrew Porter have both welcomed Group 11’s decision to look into towns outside of Dubbo hosting the 2017 grand final.

Group 11’s board sent out an email to its clubs during this year requesting information on council costs to stage the competition’s flagship day, a decision will then be made at the game’s mid-season meeting, most likely to be in August.

Grogan said he visited Forbes Shire Council on Wednesday and was given the early indication a Group 11 grand final at Forbes’ Spooner Oval would cost the Magpies and Group 11 nothing.

Porter, too, is confident Parkes Shire Council’s fees would be “minimal”.

Grogan said it was time Group 11 moved away from its centralised grand final location policy, implemented in 2005 when the Apex Oval grand stand was completed.

The only occasion Group 11 has moved its grand final location since 2005 was in 2011, when the Spacemen successfully lobbied to have the day moved to Pioneer Oval after the club’s top grade side won the competition’s major semi-final.

“I think if you’re good enough to play in the comp, you’re good enough to hold the grand final. That’s just my opinion,” Grogan said.

“I’m a strong believer in how Group 10 do theirs.”

Each year, Group 10 allows the winner of its major semi-final to earn grand final hosting rights.

Orange CYMS’ dominance of late has meant five of the last seven Group 10 grand finals have been at Wade Park, but Lithgow (2012) and Cowra (2014) have been rewarded with recent deciders.

Porter said rewarding the winner of the major semi-final with hosting rights for future grand finals was the “fairest” way to go.

“I think it is, it rewards your supporters. If the ground’s good enough to play on during the season, it’s good enough to have a grand final too,” Porter said.

“And it gives teams an added incentive to be first through to the grand final. To have it at home would be a pretty special occasion.”

Grogan said he’s already approached Forbes Shire Council about potentially hosting Group 11’s day of days.

“I told (Group 11) last year, come to Forbes and it won’t cost a cent to have it,” Grogan added.

“I spoke to council about it (on Wednesday) and they’re going to get back to me, but they can’t see a problem. There will be no charge to have a grand final here.

“I think ... back when it was first in the grand final got to host it, everything seemed to work alright.”

Grogan admitted Caltex Park was the best ground in Group 11, but added it was unrealistic to expect all clubs to have a facility of similar standard.

“We’re hoping in a few years we'll have a ground like West Wyalong's (Ron Crowe Oval), they’ve got a fantastic set up out there. It’s a smaller version of Dubbo,” he said.

“That’s what we’re hoping to achieve here, but not every club can do that. The money’s not always there.”

Forbes last hosted a Group 11 grand final in 2001.