Can't wait for bright lights to shine on showpiece

WHALEY'S WORD

THE lights went on at Robertson Oval on Tuesday night, and forgive me if I got a tiny bit excited.

I might have the blinkers on, but save me the chat about budgets and delays -  I like what I see.

Finally, Wagga has a multipurpose sporting facility to be proud of - it's shiny, brand-new and ready to be the cornerstone of our fine city.

Driving down Edward Street on Tuesday night, the grand new lights were all I could look at.

To be honest, I don't really care if I never see another gripe about ratepayers' money going down the drain for the sake of Robertson Oval.

It's here, it's finished - let's embrace it.

According to AFL House, that's exactly what the Riverina (and a few travellers) has done.

More than 3500 tickets have been sold for the NAB Cup clash on Saturday night, so my original estimate of a 6000-strong crowd is looking pretty shaky.

Maybe it's because we're all so football starved from what seemed like the longest off-season ever that we'd flock anywhere to see anything with a ball involved.

It could explain why I travelled to the West Wyalong Knockout for an hour and was so relieved to have a football fix I didn't even complain when my car pool left early.

But it could also be because the organisers of the event have been working around the clock to make sure everything is perfect for Saturday night.

I predict this to be the most immaculately organised event we've seen for some time.

But more than that, I cannot wait to check out just how the multi-millions were spent at Robertson Oval.

*****

BROTHERS are in mourning.

Without a hint of bias or exaggeration, the Brethren completely blew me away when they took the field at Ron Crowe Oval on Friday night in the face of immense tragedy.

Just hours after losing their best mate, and senior president, in a water skiing accident, the team made the bold decision to not brush its West Wyalong Knockout commitments (although it would be perfectly reasonable to do so).

It's what Joe Howard would have wanted, they said.

Being able to physically function would have been difficult enough, but to handle the situation with as much grace and bravery as they did was truly touching.

I have dealt with a lot of Group Nine figures over the past few years, but few have embodied the heart of a gentleman quite like Joe.

The well-loved man will be farewelled by hundreds tomorrow at 11am at St Johns Anglican Church in Wagga.

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