Wed, May 15, 2024 11:23 AM

Friday night lights at Awarua


Peter Jones

A couple of Marlborough club rugby stalwarts, from rival camps, have joined forces to brighten up the local scene.

Moutere president and premier manager Alistair Sutherland, along with long-time Central player and coach Ian Martella, have been instrumental in bringing about a much-needed up-grade of the floodlights at Awarua Park.

The original lights at the Spring Creek venue have degraded over the past quarter of a century since they were installed, leading to Alistair contacting his good mate Ian, director of local firm Callahan & Martella Electrical, who was able to source new bulbs from overseas.

Providing his company’s time for free, Ian oversaw the installation of eight new bulbs, plus LED lighting on the back of the light towers to allow Moutere’s burgeoning junior section to train on the number two ground.

To mark the completion of the lighting upgrade, Tasman Trophy contenders Moutere and Central have agreed to play their round 10 match, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, May 18, on Friday evening, May 17.

Alistair says the time change gives the clubs a chance to “celebrate a local derby, which are few and far between these days, and has the potential to attract a decent crowd”.

He said the club “relied on guys like Marty, especially in this environment, to get us across the line in certain areas. We are self-funded … we fundraise and work hard to find decent sponsors,” he added.

Alistair was also quick to mention the “huge” input of JTC Viticulture, whose sponsorship paid for the new bulbs.

He says the fact Ian was so quick to step in and assist a fellow club sums up the on-going camaraderie surrounding the club scene.

Ian was only too happy to put his hand up. “It doesn’t matter which colour jersey you are wearing, at the end of the day it is about bringing people through to look after our game,” he said.

However, as far as Friday’s game is concerned, the two are still firmly in separate camps.

Alistair has no doubts about who will light up Awarua.

“We like to think we are building … going by the first round result we feel we are on level pegging at least with [Central] providing we can get the right team on the paddock, depending on injuries …”.

Ian said Central had not travelled well [to Nelson] this year, but qualified that by suggesting, “it’s not a big trip from Blenheim to Spring Creek is it?”

“I think they have a really good mix of youth and experience.

“Central have been really good over the past few years at bringing people through and retaining players, so I think that culture will see them get the job done on Friday,” he added.

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