BALLARAT Red Devils Soccer Club has called Trekardo Park in Pleasant Street home since 1978. The Reds mark the end of an era on Saturday when they play their last home-and-away game on the ground ahead of next year’s move to the new Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility in Morshead Park. Red Devils historian, former player and past committee member DUNCAN SMITH reflects on the Trekardo Park journey.
BALLARAT Red Devils will leave Trekardo Park with many great memories.
There have been championship seasons and some of the best players to pull on a Reds jersey have graced the pitch at the corner of Pleasant and Latrobe streets.
Remarkably, Ballarat goes into the last home-and-away match at Trekardo Park with 166 wins and 166 losses in 413 appearances at the venue since 1978.
Equally extraordinary going into Saturday’s Football Federation Victoria state league two clash with Sydenham Park, the club’s archives show that the Reds have scored the same number of goals as it has conceded – 681.
The Reds initially did it tough at Trekardo Park,
They won only twice in 1978, being relegated, and only doing slightly better in 1979 with six wins.
“It was a good league,” then Ballarat coach Harry Arts said.
“We just didn’t have enough good players.”
The 1980 season was much the same, but from there things looked up with 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1987 winning years.
The Reds missed winning a championship by one point in 1981 and 1983.
Pommy Smith, Rick Romein, John Kennedy, Donny Gunn, George Horvatek, Gerry Rykers and Paul Den Ouden were the big names of that era.
The ultimate success came in 1992, with coach Jim Bull leading Ballarat to a title – the second in the club’s history and its first with Trekardo Park as home. Ballarat went through the season unbeaten, scoring in every match.
“That really was a very good team, actually a great team,” Bull said.
“We had top players all over the pitch and we could have easily played two or three leagues higher and done well – no question about it,” he said.
“Rick (Romein) was in goals and was almost unbeatable and then we had players like Wayne McNeight, Pat Kennedy, Lyndon Glare and Dave Gibson at the back.
“Top players and
hard as they come. Tough and didn’t mind who’s blood was spilt, theirs or their opponents’.
“Then in the middle we had a couple of really fabulous players in Duncan Smith and George Horvatek,” Bull said.
It proved to be an impossible act to follow, with the rest of the 1990s a lean period.
A new millennium meant rebuilding for the Reds with back-to-back promotions in 2003 and 2004.
Then in 2007 came a third league championship, with coach Danny Gnjidic assembling a group of young Ballarat players.
“We played pretty well the whole year, but it all came down to the final day of the season against arch rival Geelong at home,” he said.
“We needed to win to make sure of the championship.”
Ballarat trailed 2-0 after seven minutes
before a comeback secured a 4-3 victory.
Trekardo Park was also the scene for the Reds’ 1000th match in August 2010.
Even though Trekardo Park has not been a happy hunting ground this
season in what has been a tough year, there will be a mix of
sadness and excitement at the end of Saturday’s match as a new era
in Ballarat soccer dawns.