Shute Shield: Two Blues turn first sod on journey to be pride of the west

By MARK CASHMAN

Back in the day when Paul Dalton was whipping up the Two Blues’ troops and winning premierships the unique character of Granville Park meant the trip west was a daunting and distinctly uncomfortable experience on the Shute Shield schedule.

The visitors’ change rooms were badly lit, damp and by the time first grade had finished the supply of hot water was long gone. It was simply an intimidating afternoon that put off a number of opposition clubs.

There was even the time that the gate takings were stolen by an armed robber just before a first grade game kicked off meaning that on that day the meagre offerings of paying customers didn’t get to where they should have gone.

But with ground about to be turned to start the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Two Blues home base all those sort of shenanigans will be a thing of the past.

Between $10 and $12 million dollars will be spent on the state of the art community facility that will change the face of rugby in Sydney’s west.

Cumberland Council made the final approvals at the end of May and the area was handed over to the first stage of the works at the end of June.

The ground works for the facility are expected to be finished towards the end of December and the building works in April 2021 and the Two Blues will be the major tenant.

“This is a massive game changer for us and the community as a whole,” Two Blues General Manager Craig Morgan said.

“To be perfectly honest the facilities that we have had to work out of for the past couple of years were outdated and not fit for a premier club in the Shute Shield.

“But once the new facility is up and running we will have a home base that proudly reflects the best of western Sydney.

“To be honest the old Granville Park had become a bit of an eye sore and in terms of getting people involved at the club was a bit of turn off.

“That won’t be the case once we get in the door towards the end of the year.”

The upgrade will include grandstand seating for 1500 people, four change rooms, a kiosk, referee and medical rooms, a gym, office and social function space.

In addition to all this, the field will be resurfaced with upgrades to lighting, fencing and irrigation.

“It means that we will be able to pitch for events like State Championships which will keep our junior base engaged,” Morgan added.

In the meantime the Two Blues are preparing for the Covid-19 effected Shute Shield competition and will play their home games at Lidcombe Oval while major works are completed at Granville.

They will field teams in the Shute Shield, reserve grade and fourth grade in the seniors and first colts.

The four teams means they will play all their games at the same ground each week and that is a plus as they try to convert some of their good colts into long term grade competitors.

Joel Rivers is again heading up the senior coaching group and he has been lucky enough to keep many of the people that had reasonable seasons at the club.

“We had our moments during the year like against Manly in Week One and the games against Warringah and Northern Suburbs,” Morgan said.

“But things just didn’t go our way and the idea this year is to build on that and show that we are a competitive club and to be ready for 2021 and the new facility.”

Handy No.10 Rory Garrett is a major pick up in the off-season while locks Tuitakau Kioa and Tevita Vea who will provide much of the bulk needed for a competitive Shute Shield forward pack.

Airi Hunt who had a couple of games for the Blues in 2015 as a No.8 has also come to the club but now plays in the front row.

Winger Robert Duff has also returned after a number of seasons in the UK.

This season will be a bit of a holding pattern, not that anyone at the club would say that publically, and then it will be game on in 2021.