TAMWORTH is celebrating hosting another successful NRL trial match, but it’s bittersweet for supporters of Scully Oval.
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray said he understood, if everything went to plan, it would be the last NRL game on Scully Park Oval, with plansP to build a motel on the ground.
Cr Murray said he was not part of discussions with Country Rugby League at the weekend, but understood the plan was that Scully No. 2 would be ready for the next NRL trial game.
“The teams love coming here and they always talk highly of the ground and the surface (at Scully Park),” he said.
“There are a number of the players who played their junior games at Scully Park, so coming back certainly sparks some interest with them.”
Cr Murray said the game also caused a “groundswell of sporting interest” in Tamworth, which was already such a sports-oriented city.
“While I humbly admit I’m a Manly supporter, I think it’s just great the Knights can come and play in Tamworth because there are a tremendous number of fans here,” he said.
“You always get this great feel when the Knights come to town. The Raiders have some strong links to Tamworth as well, so it’s not surprising we see such strong interest in the NRL pre-season games.”
Tamworth Regional Council business events manager Gavin Flanagan said the game was fantastic and brought plenty of excitement to the city.
“Although it was a bit of a blow out score, the crowd had the chance to meet the players after the game
“It was a little under a sellout, with close to 3000 people watching the game. All the other years have been sell outs.”
Mr Flanagan said residents could be getting used to NRL games coming to Tamworth, which could account for the drop in numbers this year.
There was more to the visit than just the trial game, though.
“The best thing about the teams coming to the town, apart from the game, was that there were so many opportunities for the players to mingle with the community,” Mr Flanagan said.
“The players went to a minor league sign-on day and I understand they had hundreds and hundreds of kids down there. The rugby league clubs I believe had a really good sign-on day with numbers up.”
Mr Flanagan said there was also an appearance at Tamworth Shoppingworld that saw between 300 and 400 fans meeting the players and school visits on Friday for anti-bullying campaigns.
Wayne Bennett also addressed business and sporting people on Friday at a luncheon.
“The benefits of getting these teams to town is so much more than the game, which was the most important part of it,” Mr Flanagan said.
“Certainly people from outside the Tamworth region came to Tamworth and there would’ve been a number of Knights fans come up from Newcastle.”
Cr Murray said all sporting events were good for our local economy.
“Our local economy has developed on those visitors for sporting and music events,” he said.
“Tamworth has actually built a very strong capacity to host large number of visitors. While we may not have seen massive numbers to the NRL game, it is a very important cog in the wheel of the Tamworth economy.”
Mr Flanagan said it was a special game for Tamworth to have, as it was the only regional trial in NSW.
“That was a real coup for us and we’re really proud of that,” he said.