Three years after a deliberately lit fire ripped through the Nangwarry Football Club’s clubrooms, the Saints are set to rise from the ashes.
- The rebuild of the Nangwarry clubrooms is almost complete as the Saints set their sights on their first win in seven years
- A deliberately lit blaze destroyed the original 1949-era clubrooms
- The destroyed building had been the site of dances, cabarets, debutante balls and a movie theatre in years gone by
Work is almost complete on the rebuild of the home of the Nangwarry Saints Football and Netball Club.
At the time, police investigating the January 2019 incident said the fire was suspicious and caused around $500,000 in damage, including the loss of historic club memorabilia from their first premiership in 1993.
As the 2022 season got underway last weekend, club president Shane Ploenges said the excitement was “starting to build” with the new clubrooms almost complete.
“There’s been some delays due to COVID but most of the hurdles have been overcome and we’re down to the final touches — the fit-out inside the building, paths and some smaller jobs,” he said.
Carried through dark times
In the years since the fire destroyed the clubrooms, players and the community have used makeshift outbuildings, set up outdoor seating and held after-game gatherings in community facilities around the town.
But Mr Ploenges said “everyone was looking forward to having a club home again”.
“The biggest thing with the rebuild will be having things like the canteen and barbecue area under one roof — it’ll make it a lot more user friendly for the volunteers,” he said.
“You’re moving stuff from one place to another and taking people away from the grounds … and once that happens people tend to get in their car and keep on going.”
Mr Ploenges said there was no lack of community spirit in Nangwarry, with the town rallying around the club in the wake of the incident.
A win and a prayer
Leading into the 2022 season, the Nangwarry Saints football club has one main goal — to win games.
The club’s A-grade men’s side has been without a win for almost seven years.
But coach Luke Thompson, who joined the club last year, was confident that streak would soon come to an end.
“We recruited about 10 or 11 guys, including players from Adelaide and Western Border [Football League],” he said.
“Our training numbers are the best they’ve been in a number of years and everything we’ve done in the last three to four months has put us in the best position we’ve been in for a while.”
Mr Thompson said the players had embarked on a strong training program, but there was more to success than that.
“It’s not just the skill side of things — it’s mindset,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have played here over the last five or six years and haven’t had a win, so that mindset of winning isn’t there.”
He said new, experienced players, including premiership winners, would be the key to the team’s success.
“I’ve got guys here now who’ve won grand finals and have plenty of season wins under their belt, so that helps other players to learn what mindset to be in and how it feels to win,” Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thompson also praised the Nangwarry community for getting behind the club in recent years.
“I started coaching here last year and it was a big surprise for me to see just how much support we get from the town, especially considering the struggles we’ve had both on and off the field in the last few years,” he said.
Mr Thompson said having the clubrooms to gather in was “not just important for the club, but for the whole community”.
“We’ll see the return of things like Thursday night teas, Friday night social events, and with games every second Saturday … it’s good to think it’ll once more be a hub for the town,” he said.
“The locals have missed it over the last couple of years.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC