Waratah breaks the drought | Michael Gorey

Waratah breaks the drought

Waratah Football Club, Darwin

Today I visited the picturesque Gardens Oval in Darwin to watch my first Northern Territory Football League game between Waratah and Southern Districts.

Gardens Oval is Waratah's home ground, and being the nearest venue to where I'm living, I adopted the red and whites as my new club.

They didn't win a single game last year, but broke the drought today to record an eight-point victory.

Waratah is one of the oldest clubs in Darwin and next year celebrates its centenary. It's the only club to have competed in every year of football being played here.

The Tahs have won 15 league premierships.

Gardens Oval is a lovely boutique ground, with two small grandstands and clubrooms on the eastern side. The outer is ringed by tropical trees.

I thought the standard of play was similar to country football in Victoria, a notch below the Ovens and Murray League I used to be involved with.

That's to be expected considering Darwin's population of 116,000 compared with more than 200,000 in the OMFL catchment around Albury/Wodonga and Wangaratta.

The skills were pretty good though and improved as the match progressed, perhaps a result of opening-round adjustment.

The crowd was small, around 400 people, but being concentrated in the grandstands the spectators made plenty of noise as Waratah headed towards their breakthrough victory.

Former AFL star Michael McLean is coaching the club and must be happy to have opened with a win.

Waratah will play five home games at Gardens Oval this year and I hope to attend them all.

Gardens Oval was the traditional home of football in Darwin before a new ground opened at Marrara in 1991. It's now a secondary venue for football and cricket, which is something of a shame given its central location and picturesque aspect.

<< Go back to the previous page