Racing in WA to continue

WHEN Tasmania’s State Government banned all horse racing activities in a bid to protect regional communities from COVID-19 it raised the question whether other states like Western Australia should follow suit.

Last Thursday Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein sent shockwaves through the racing industry when he announced horse racing and greyhound racing would be suspended for at least a month to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Tasmania’s Minister for Racing Jane Howlett said the decision, which affects close to 5000 workers, was a ‘necessary one’ based on public health advice.

On Monday Ms Howlett announced a support package of about $2 million per month to keep the Tasmanian racing industry afloat.

So far there has been no indication from the WA Government or Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) that an industry-wide suspension is being considered on the west coast.

RWWA General Manager of Racing Charlotte Mills said RWWA was taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously and had implemented a range of bio-security measures to protect the industry’s workforce.

“RWWA is continuously monitoring State and Federal Government advice to ensure that the racing industry is and in many cases beyond compliant,” she said.

Only essential personnel are allowed access to WA racecourses, according to Ms Mills.

“Compliance support officers ensure social distancing and good hygiene practices are adhered to at WA racecourses, with stewards having powers to take action against anyone not complying to the stringent requirements,” she said.

But the AMA President of the WA branch Andrew Miller questioned why racing in WA should continue when almost every other sport had stopped competition and practice.

“Anytime where people are getting together in groups – even if there are no spectators there – clearly is a source for it to be spread around,” he said.

“While we are still getting a handle on this disease and while we aren’t prepared properly on the front line, particularly in regional areas, we need to be conservative.

“We realise this is a terrible inconvenience for everyone, including the animals, but we have to take one for the community at the moment.”

Mr Miller said if greyhound and horse racing continued throughout the pandemic it sent the community a mixed message.

“Complexity of rules creates problems for social distancing,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re doing their best, but if there’s an exemption for them then why not other sports?

“It gets a bit confusing for everyone, especially with the ban being in one state and not others.”

Ms Mills argued any industry ban would affect the wellbeing of racing animals.

“There are over 13,000 animals in Western Australia directly dependent on racing continuing,” she said.

“Racing industry participants heavily rely on the conduct of racing for their income to be able to care and support both their families and their animals.”

Under Tasmania’s ruling, industry employees essential to the welfare of racing animals will keep their jobs during suspension.

To reduce the travel of racing participants, RWWA has consolidated race meetings to 11 out of 51 racetracks, including Albany and Kalgoorlie.

Albany Racing Club will host three race meets in the next month, including this weekend’s Ladies Day Easter Races on Sunday.

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Trampoline queen Ruby scores silver

TRAMPOLINING star Ruby Beckett has continued her impressive run of form at state level, taking out two silver medals at national qualifiers in Perth last month.

The 10-year-old Denmark product proved she’s one of WA’s brightest young talents on the trampolining scene, scoring a massive 5.3 points over what she needed to qualify for the under 13 nationals.

Ruby would have gone on to represent WA at the Australian Championships in May, but that event has since been cancelled.

It would have been the second time Ruby competed at a national level.

Ruby’s coach, Kay Panton, said it was an incredible achievement considering Ruby’s age and the time she spent practising trampolining.

“She only trains a few hours a week, whereas the kids from Perth probably train about 12 hours,” she said.

Panton said Ruby had a knack for performing well under pressure when it mattered most.

“She tends to pull it out of the bag on the day,” Panton said.

“In warm-ups she will fall on her bum every single time and then come the actual event she’s perfect.”

Panton said Ruby was one of the most talented kids she’d ever coached and could go all the way if she started training more often.

“Ruby’s an up and coming star, she’s got something really special” Panton said.

Ruby’s mum, Melita Kingsford, said Ruby was very disappointed she couldn’t go to nationals anymore but at least had a trampoline at home to practise on during isolation.

“She was really looking forward to it,” Ms Kingsford said.

“She went when she was eight and would have known what to expect this time round.”

Ms Kingsford said Ruby had fallen in love with the sport three years ago during a try out at Flip Zone trampoline and gymnastics club in Albany.

Ms Panton, who owns and runs the club, said Flip Zone would be reopen its doors once social distancing measures were relaxed.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all the kids back,” she said.

“I’m missing it terribly.”

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Laurie in AFLW national team

DENMARK footballer Parris Laurie has earned a spot in the AFLW 2020 Team of the Year after a standout season in the ruck with the West Coast Eagles.

Part of the Eagles’ inaugural AFLW team, Laurie averaged 18 hit-outs, nine disposals, two marks and nearly three tackles per game.

The 25-year-old was twice nominated in the AFLW team of the week, including a commanding Round 2 performance against Fremantle where she finished with 27 hit-outs.

The personal accolade is a shining light in an otherwise difficult season for the first-year Eagles who only managed one win from six games and finished bottom of conference B.

West Coast were on the receiving end of some ugly thrashings in their debut AFLW season, going down by 45-points in the Round 2 derby against Fremantle and suffering a 59-point thumping in Round 5 against Melbourne.

While the results look bad on paper, Laurie said the season had been an invaluable learning experience for the young Eagles team.

“This year was about setting the foundations and learning to play with one another and learning the standards we need to play at,” she said.

“It was more about our improvement each week. We definitely progressed as the season went on and started to play out games much better towards the end.”

Even amongst the big losses, Laurie said a tight group of players had enjoyed a ‘special’ season together.

“Even if you are the new team and you don’t have the highest of expectations, we still definitely felt the losses,” she said.

“But being a close group, we were all smiles when we got back to training on Mondays and were looking forward to the next game.”

Persistence paid off in Round 4 when the Eagles made history with their first ever AFLW win.

The nail-biting four-point win at Leederville Oval against the Western Bulldogs was a memorable moment for Laurie, who was named amongst the Eagles’ best players for the day.

“It’s definitely my favourite win to date,” Laurie said.

“Everyone was on top of the world, it was an awesome feeling and I’ll never forget it.”

The 2020 season is Laurie’s second year playing AFLW having made her debut for Fremantle in 2019.

Laurie was selected by the Dockers with pick 49 in the national draft and she played eight games last year before crossing to the Eagles.

Having access to a full-time ruck coach at West Coast was a big part of the decision, according to Laurie.

“Knowing that I would have a full-time ruck coach going across to the Eagles was big for me,” she said.

“I’m not as tall in comparison to other rucks, so I really need some tricks up my sleeve in order to beat them.

“Freo couldn’t offer that. It was a hard decision, but I haven’t looked back.”

The 178cm ruck said it had been a privilege to be involved in the Eagles inaugural team.

But she would have liked to have played a full season so the side could continue its development.

Last month AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan made the decision to cancel the 2020 AFLW competition without a premier.

The home and away season had finished two games early to fast track a finals competition, but only got one week in before the series came to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 measures.

Fremantle, Carlton, North Melbourne and Melbourne had progressed to the preliminary finals, but those games will never be played.

With the AFL facing a dire financial position, there has been talk the women’s season might not go ahead in 2021, but Laurie said she was trying to remain optimistic.

“I know teams are go-ng through some hard times financially and are having to let people go, so it’s a possibility, but fingers crossed for now,” she said.

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Salmon comps postponed

THE inaugural Albany Salmon Slam and Albany Salmon Spectacular have been postponed until next year.

Despite moving to an app-based competition to encourage social distancing, Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell said competition organisers would follow the Federal Government’s latest COVID-19 advice and instead, work to make the 2021 event bigger and better.

“The latest advice from Government has been very clear advising people to only venture out of their homes if completely necessary,” he said.

“On this basis we think postponing the Slam is the right thing to do.

“Fishing will have a huge role to play post COVID-19 in boosting our community’s mental health and wellbeing and rebuilding the regional economy.

“We will continue to work in the background on developing initiatives and programs that will make fishing even better for West Aussies in recovering from this crisis on the other side.”

Regional travel restrictions in effect now also furthered Recfishwest’s decision to cancel.

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Railways in seventh heaven

RAILWAYS were crowned Albany and Districts Cricket Association (ADCA) A-Grade champions for the seventh successive season in what must be one of the most dominant runs of any team in WA cricketing history.

The Tigers clinched the premiership in bizarre circumstances after the ADCA was last week forced to suspend all its grand final play-offs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADCA’s executive committee had to vote which teams, if any, would take home some silverware for 2019-20, and unanimously decided each side which made it to the grand final first would win the flag.

If a cricket final ends up getting washed out, the first team through to that game is generally declared the winner, and the ADCA used that reasoning to reach its decision.

It meant Railways’ gritty 16-run finals victory over Manypeaks the week earlier proved to be an early season decider, with the Tigers the first team through to the big dance.

Manypeaks were able to reach the grand final themselves the long way round but will now never find out if they would have been good enough to dethrone the reigning premiers in a do-or-die clash.

Manypeaks A-grade captain Aran Tilbury said it was a fair result, however, with the ADCA having little choice but to award Railways the premiership.

Tilbury said his team were initially disappointed with the decision to cancel the grand final and had wanted to play but understood ADCA were only following directives from the Western Australian Cricket Association.

Cricket Australia and the WACA decided last week it would suspend all cricket competitions until further notice.

Railways A-grade captain Nathan Crudeli said it wasn’t how any team wanted to finish a season but praised the ADCA for taking a safety-first approach.

“They chose to protect players and the wider community which I think they should be commended,” he said.

“We all love cricket, and it’s disappointing we couldn’t play, but there are a few things that are a little more important right now.”

In light of everything going on around them, Crudeli said the premiership triumph hadn’t sunk in yet, with the team holding a “very low-key” celebration on the weekend.

“It’s obviously a pretty different feeling,” he said.

“But everyone should hold their heads high because it was a pretty massive effort to come from where we were and to finish the way we did.”

Crudeli said the Tigers didn’t have to carry any passengers this year with a number of players stepping up their game to the next level.

“There’s a few boys that we needed to step up and play probably more pivotal roles than they have in the past and they took that opportunity,” he said.

“Aiden Dallimore batting at three all year in A-grade was massive.

“Coen Marwick has got to be mentioned for his season with the bat and ball.”

In a scintillating season where Marwick won the ACDA player of the year award, the all-rounder averaged over 46 with the bat and took a wicket every 26 balls.

Dallimore was recognised as the best under-21 player in the competition, with an impressive performance behind the stumps complementing a 24.27 run batting average.

Going where no other A-grade Albany cricket team has gone before, Crudeli said the seven-premiership dynasty was an extraordinary run.

“It’s pretty special what the young team have been able to do this year,” he said.

“It’s some sort of record, surely.”

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Railways scoreless, Royals take top spot

DURING a highly anticipated top-of-table clash, Royals showed their class with a grinding seven-point win over Railways at Centennial Stadium on Friday night, in what could be the last round of fixtures for the season.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the West Australian Football Commission has suspended all football activities until at least May 31, which is more than a month after the GSFLW Grand Final was supposed to be played.

If the 2020 season is abandoned, the result could have handed Royals this year’s premiership.

Last year’s premiers secured their sixth win of 2020, moving to first on the GSFLW ladder ahead of second-placed Tigers.

Only percentage separates the two sides.

Scoring was a premium in miserably wet conditions under lights on Friday night, with much of the game played between the forward-50 arcs.

For the first time this year Railways were held scoreless as a determined Royals outfit pressured their opposition out of the contest.

Rain poured down at Centennial Stadium in the first half, with players regularly opting to soccer the ball forward when a slippery pill hit the deck.

While both teams struggled to hit the scoreboard, there was no doubting the effort from both sides in a ferocious game where big tackles were a highlight.

The only score up until three-quarter time was a Lions behind, and it was anyone’s match at that stage.

Henrietta Lilford broke the deadlock in the final term, kicking the first major of the game to send Royals seven points clear, and the Tigers were unable to respond with a score of their own.

While the match was far from a spectator’s dream, the 1.1 (7) to 0.0 (0) win is an invaluable four points for Royals considering the football suspension.

Over at Sounness Park in Denmark, Mount Barker posted their first ever win in the GSFLW with a six-point victory over Denmark-Walpole.

It had so far been a tough first-season for the last- placed Bulls, but their 4.2 (26) to 3.2 (20) triumph will no doubt give them confidence they can come back stronger in 2021.

Mount Barker led their opponents at every break and kicked two goals in

the final term to secure a deserved result.

In the second game of a double header at Centennial Stadium, Albany Sharks moved to outright third on the ladder with an impressive 16-point win over North Albany.

Competition leading goal scorer Stephanie Grant took her season tally to 10 goals for the season, while Emily Lawrence scored the other major for the Sharks.

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Cricket finals called off

RAILWAYS will find out tomorrow if they have won their seventh consecutive Albany A-Grade Cricket premiership after Saturday’s Grand Final was cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.

The Albany and Districts Cricket Association (ADCA) Executive Committee cancelled all grand final games this weekend in a meeting on Tuesday night.

ADCA president Terry Eaton said the decision comes after a strong recommendation by Cricket Australia and the Western Australian Cricket Association to cancel all cricket playing and training for the remainder of the 2019/20 season.

“It’s extreme circumstances but the community is bigger than the game of cricket,” he said.

“It’s the only sane and rational response and if you went ahead with the game and something happened, you would always be questioning yourself.

“The decision was made with the safety of all participants, volunteers and the wider community in mind.”

Mr Eaton said the association would be guided by the ADCA by-laws in deciding if premiers are awarded in their respective grades and this decision would be communicated tomorrow.

He said if the game was rained out, Railways would be named premiers but this was an unprecedented situation.

In last week’s games, Railways held on for a gritty 16-run victory over Manypeaks to go straight through to the big dance, meaning Peaks had to do it the hard way in an elimination clash against Royals.

After winning the toss and batting first, Manypeaks posted 8/149 of 48 overs before the heavens opened up and play was eventually called off.

With Manypeaks finishing higher on the ladder than Royals in the regular season, it meant Peaks progressed through to the Grand Final.

It was a harsh way for Royals to finish their season, after a nail-biting three-wicket victory over Collingwood Park on Saturday had them within touching distance of a grand final berth.

Over on Turf C, Manypeaks won the toss and sent Railways into bat under cloudy conditions that would likely favour the bowlers.

And it was a decision that paid off early with Railways openers Coen Marwick and Alan Pietersen both falling cheaply inside the first 15 overs.

It was then up to middle-order pairing Aidan Dallimore and Brendan Crudeli to rebuild the innings, and the duo had to fight hard to keep the scoreboard ticking with Railways finishing on 8/153.

In reply, Manypeaks got off to a disastrous start in their run chase, losing 3/16 inside 12 overs as Railways’ Coen Marwick tore through the top order.

Peaks slumped further to be 7/68 and Railways, holding the upper-hand throughout, put the result to bed in the last over of the game, with the deadly Marwick finishing with 4/15 off 9.1 overs.

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Surf’s on

WHILE countless sporting events around the country were cancelled this week, Boardriders President David Beeck confirmed Albany Boardriders Junior Wavefest would go ahead until Surfing WA said otherwise.

Mr Beeck said any extra precautions would be taken to keep everyone safe on the day, noting that surfers have to keep their distance anyway.

Registration for the grassroots surf comp is now open to those under the age of 18, with a number of age brackets to enter into.

Depending on weather and swell conditions, the event will be held on either April 4 or 5.

To register, visit albanysurf.com

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Veteran saves club

IT WOULD be hard to find someone who’s given as much of their life to table tennis as Albany’s Peter Muller.

Since moving to the Great Southern in 1994, Muller almost single-handedly saved the Albany Table Tennis Club from going under.

As he tells it, there were only about eight players left, the club didn’t have a committee or any money and there were bills to pay.

Fast-forward 26 years and he’s managed a remarkable turnaround, with the club’s Friday social league hosting about 60-70 players each week.

“When I took over the club it was almost extinct, but since then it has grown and grown,” Muller said.

“Now we have 14 tables going.”

Muller has been President of the Albany Table Tennis Club for more than 25 years – a feat recently recognised and celebrated at the club’s AGM.

Even before his time in Albany, the sports fanatic ran his own table tennis club in Perth, where he coached young players and resided as president for 26 years.

But according to Muller, nothing beats the feel of a community sports club in a regional area like Albany where volunteers are more than willing to help out.

“Country people are different; you couldn’t have something like this in the city,” he said.

“It’s like a big family here, everyone gets on well.

“There’s no cliqueness in the club.

“A lot of people say it’s the best club they’ve ever been involved in. There are always new people coming along.”

Muller’s passion for the game goes beyond managerial duties.

The spritely 81-year-old competes in the Over 70s State Championships every year, as well as the Country Championships.

And while he obviously still loves to play table tennis, Muller said he was hopeful someone would eventually step up to the president role.

“I’ve given table tennis my life,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to step down for the last five years, but no one would take the job.

“I am training a vice-president and hopefully he will take over.”

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Tennis club turns 100

DRESSED up in their finest 1920s tennis attire, Tenterden Tennis Club toasted its 100th birthday on Saturday.

Tenterden brought up its century milestone in style with an afternoon of casual social tennis where players sported wooden racquets.

After the sun had set, about 120 people attended a celebratory dinner where past and present members shared personal stories about the club.

Located within the Shire of Cranbrook, Tenterden is a charming club surrounded by bushland.

Members meet for social tennis every Saturday, as well as hosting a few tournaments each year.

To mark the occasion, Tenterden Tennis Club President Rowan Bigwood read a poem that took a light-hearted look at its 100-year history.

“As we celebrate 100 I’ve always thought what makes it tick, what makes it great,” he said.

“It’s obvious look around you mate.

“Good job you made it, raise a glass, you deserve it, you made it last.”

The whole club then sang itself a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday and life members John Sprigg, Sue Milne and Bill Waldron cut the centenary cake.

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