TAMWORTH’S Northern Inland Football A League Challenge is under scrutiny again after a “less than blockbuster” crowd watched the Newcastle Jets defeat the Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Scully Park on Sunday.
The agreement Tamworth Regional Council has with the Newcastle Jets and the A League to bring a pre-season fixture to Scully Park each year will be reviewed after the crowd reached (officially) 1350, the same number that saw the Jets defeat then premiers Brisbane Roar 1-nil in 2012.
Destination Tamworth Business and Events Manager Gavin Flanagan said the crowd was about what they were expecting, although they will need to sit down and have a look at it to see if it will be viable into the future.
“It was a great day and the crowd was right into the game with a good atmosphere,” Flanagan said.
“We are certainly not losing money with those numbers but there are a number of other factors.”
Flanagan is concerned that the Tamworth community may become a bit blase with these fixtures if they become a regular thing but, on the other hand, wants to expose the community to top-level sporting events.
“The picture for me at that game was all the kids lined up for autographs and to talk to players after the game, that is what it is all about.”
“We want to integrate high-level sport into the community and expose the juniors to top-level players and games.”
“Whether it be football, NRL, AFL or Super Rugby, we must support it as a community.
“There are many factors and it is something the council and the Jets will have to seriously look at for the future.”
Both coaches of this year’s fixture believe it is a must do for the clubs and the league, and have enjoyed the Tamworth experience.
Jets coach Gary Van Egmond was singing the praises of Tamworth and the Scully Park venues after the game on Saturday.
“This is a big catchment area for the club so we need to keep the relationship going,” Van Egmond said.
“It is great to see so many kids and people wearing Jets and Mariners’ colours today.”
Mariners coach Graham Arnold was on his first trip to Tamworth and, despite the loss, was amazed at the club’s reception and the attitude of the young players and fans.
“We have to take the game to regional and country areas to return the support,” Arnold said.
“To grow the game we must show the supporters the top level.”