Council refusal to cut Godfrey St Oval causes outrage

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Geelong cricket legend Gary Anderton has slammed council over its refusal to cut the Godfrey St Oval grass at a respectable length, claiming the move is ruining cricket.

Anderton, regarded as one of the best batsman in GCA history, has called for deputy Mayor Peter Murrihy to intervene following an outcry over the length of the outfield at Thomson.

Murrihy has vowed to investigate the matter, confirming he planned to discuss the issue at last night’s council meeting.

It comes as Tigers captain-coach Sam Stoneley criticised the City of Greater Geelong for the state of the ground, labelling the situation “embarrassing” and “terrible”.

A Thomson legend of almost 40 years, Anderton questioned council’s decision not to cut the outfield shorter, claiming the grass was mowed at “at least half” the length during his career.

“I’ve only ever played on a rye grass oval at Thomson and it was never like that when I played,” said Anderton, a champion through the 1970s and ’80s.

“Don’t tell me the weather’s changed that much over the years? You always got full value for your shots back when I played. I think they’ve just become a bit more precious.”

City of Greater Geelong acting director of community life Robyn Stevens this week said the treatment of rye grass was standardised across Geelong, claiming the grass “needs to be cut longer to survive warmer conditions”.

Gary Anderton in action for Leopold in the 1980s.

But Anderton believes it should be cut shorter.

“They obviously don’t want to spend more money on water and the grounds, because if they cut it a bit shorter, obviously they will have to water it more,” Anderton said.

“They told me they won’t cut it. They said they cut it at 27mm and they won’t cut any ground shorter than that in Geelong.

“We just want it a bit shorter where the ball will travel to the boundary. It looks magnificent, but it’s too lush.”

Brownbill Ward councillor Murrihy said he was prepared to intervene, admitting he wasn’t satisfied with the response Thomson had received from council.

“If what Gary says is right, and it’s the same grass that they’ve had on the oval all this time, it doesn’t make sense that they’re allowing the grass to grow longer,” Murrihy said.

“I’m an old cricketer myself and it’s frustrating when you’ve got long grass. I’m heading into council and I’m hoping to get a better understanding of what’s happening.

“I’ll be asking some questions about it, that’s for sure.”

Anderton fears the long grass could diminish the club’s recruiting power.

“If you’re a batsman, the last place you’d want to come and play at is Thomson. That’s hurts for recruiting and causes all sorts of issues,” he said.

Anderton said the club had considered a bold move to replace the rye grass with drought tolerant turf but said the football club wanted none of it.

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