Sea of red invades Bay Oval

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Sideline Sid received a report from Mount Maunganui last Friday, that a sea of red uniforms had invaded the Bay Oval at Blake Park.

His first reaction that it was a convention of Santa Clauses taking place, but it turned out to be a large contingent of St Kilda Australian Rules players and management in the Mount for pre-season training.

The attraction was the nearby University of Waikato High Performance Centre.

Instead of outdoors training on Blake Park, St Kilda, who wore their long-time red, white and black uniform with pride in New Zealand, were right at home on the oval shaped international cricket venue.

Tauranga City should be extremely thankful to the foresight of the surveyor who laid out the then sleepy coastal village of Mount Maunganui way back in 1913.

Blake Park, which is named after the original surveyor, was a situated a good way from the Mount village in the wilderness.

Subsequent acquisition of a further 40 acres by the then Mount Maunganui Borough Council, has given the Western Bay of Plenty the confines of a premier sporting facility slap bang in the middle of Mount Maunganui.

St Kilda brought well over 40 players and a large management team in their sojourn to Mount Maunganui.

The St Kilda team were virtually anonymous in their visit to the Bay of Plenty, in contrast to Melbourne where many of the players enjoy celebrity status.

The St Kilda AFL (Australian Football League) is one of the oldest clubs in Victoria after being established in 1873.

Originally based in the Melbourne seaside suburb of St Kilda, the club know calls the inner city Dockland Stadium home.

A solitary premiership 50 years ago in 1966 is the clubs only win in the annual AFL title race.

In recent seasons, they could be called the "nearly men" after a Minor Premiership in 2009 and Grand Final appearances in 2009 and 2010.

In total, they have made the AFL Grand Final on seven occasions since their first appearance in 1913.

Nicknamed "The Saints", their song is could only be "the saints coming home".

This season proved a disappointment in their ninth place finish in the premiership, hence their visit to Mount Maunganui in an attempt to revive their flagging fortunes.

Sideline Sid has been to the magnificent Docklands Stadium which currently enjoys the name of Etihad Stadium.

The Docklands area, which is a stones throw from Melbourne's CBD, became a wasteland after container shipping saw the former Melbourne docks fall into disrepair in the 1990's.

A bold vision of a stadium adjacent to the Melbourne inner-city became a reality in 2000.

Seating for in excess of f55,000 spectators is complemented by a retractable roof. Etihad Stadium has become home to not only the AFL, but hosted entertainment stars, from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and U2 to Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake.

Melbourne is called the sporting capital of the world with some justification.

The Docklands Stadium is just one of the iconic grounds and stadiums close to the Melbourne inner-city.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Rod Laver Tennis Arena and AMMI Park which hosts super rugby games, plus the nearby Formula 1 track are all with walking distance of the inner city.

Go the Black Caps!

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View of the Mount by Wendy van der Vyver. Send us your photos and stories from around the Bay of Plenty. Email: photos@thesun.co.nz