COLBINABBIN will play its first HDFNL game for premiership points on its resurfaced M. J. Morgan Oval when it hosts Mount Pleasant under lights this Friday.
The northern Victorian based Grasshoppers' home ground was off-limits for much of the Northern United Cricket Association season, but was used last month for a pair of practice matches against reigning BFNL premiers Sandhurst and LVFNL premiers Bridgewater.
A huge crowd is expected for the Good Friday clash in what shapes as a crucial contest for the Grasshoppers against their traditional rival, following a 48 point loss to start the 2017 season against Leitchville-Gunbower.
It will be a cause for great celebration for the Colbinabbin community, which has contributed about $250,000 in materials and labour and even more man-hours redeveloping the oval.
Grasshoppers director of football Tait Hamilton, who has helped manage the project, said the resurfacing came in response to ground issues sustained during last season's wet weather.
"We had no vertical drainage and our horizontal drainage was pretty slack as well," he said.
"It was a combination of factors, the oval was built about 70 or 80 years ago and just wasn't the right surface.
"With all the games we have on it, and with more junior football being introduced, it was getting tired so we had to do something."
After an approach to the Campaspe Shire Council, Colbinabbin Football Netball Club was given the go-ahead to manage and fund the project itself, starting in mid-November.
Tait said the club was indebted to Rochester-based Ward Bros. Earthmoving for donating expertise, machinery and labour, the Rushworth District Community Bank for it $30,000 grant and cash and in-kind contributions from the the recreation reserve committee, football netball club, cricket club and broader Colbinabbin community.
The redevelopment included the removal of 100mm of top soil, the spreading of 4.5 tonnes of fill-clay from a neighbouring property to create a dome on the oval.
After testing, the top soil was reinserted, together with 100mm of sandy loam from the Barham area.
The new surface comprises a mix of couch and rye grass, which according to Tait, was showing the benefits of some handy summer downpours.
"We've got a really good cover of grass and it will really take off next spring," he said.
Two new cricket pitches have also been installed at the venue a cost of about $20,000.
Courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser