By David Nagel
You get the feeling that Lang Lang president Chris Brew hasn’t had too many opportunities to just sit back and enjoy the magnificence of the club’s brand-new facility at Soldiers Road.
Brew has been run off his feet in recent times as the club prepared for one of its biggest ever occasions, the grand opening and first-game at its new venue after a 120-year stay at its traditional home at the showgrounds.
In farming terms – quite appropriate given the grounds surroundings – it’s been a long row to hoe for Brew and his team in recent times.
But on Friday night, with official duties done, he finally got time to take a breath.
“I just feel very proud at the moment, very proud of everyone associated with the club,” Brew said, sipping a cold beer on the club’s new balcony.
“A lot of teamwork and a lot of group involvement has taken place between the sporting clubs, the council, the Bendigo Bank – our community company – the committee, and the players have been incredible as well.
“It’s just been a fantastic effort to get the facility to where it is today after such a short turnaround from the cricket grand final last Sunday. We had five days to turn it into a football venue when we had never played here before and had no idea what it looked like…it’s just been an incredible effort all round.”
Brew said many factors had made this a challenging time, not just for him but his football club.
“I said to someone earlier today I’m just taking things five minutes at a time today because it’s been an overwhelming experience to be honest,” he said.
“It’s been a really challenging time for my family personally, but also for the club, coming from where we’ve come from, without the success, the build-up of expectation from last year, and getting the handover of the facility one week before Covid struck.
“Then we had the build up again this year, so to finally be here is really satisfying. Now we want to just sit back and enjoy the football and netball.”
Brew agreed when it was suggested that the Tigers new home ground is comparable to anything in the region.
“It is fantastic and we are really grateful and really fortunate to have what we have here today and it gives us the opportunity to present ourselves as a showcase venue for the Ellinbank league,” he said.
“We now have a suitable venue for our new women’s team to play their first game in three weeks’ time and we just couldn’t even consider something like that without a facility of this quality.
“It gives our community an opportunity to pull together as one, with men’s, women’s and junior football, and netball, it gives us a great chance to come together as one and help each other out.”
The Tigers’ president said the impact of Covid had been devastating for some but had brought communities closer together than ever before.
“People had the opportunity to reflect on what’s important, what they miss, and I’ve spoken to so many people who not only miss the game, but miss the people and the interaction and community involvement,” Brew said.
“The Thursday night meals, the Saturday games, the togetherness, that only comes with being around each other so it’s great to be back in an environment like we have here tonight.”
Brew was reluctant to single out individuals, but said the work of many had set the club up for an exciting and promising future.
“Without a doubt, and that’s credit to the council, the Bendigo Bank – our community company – who had the foresight to plan for this in 2014,” he said.
“What we are seeing tonight, seven years down the track, is reward for all the hard work of people like Max Papley, the entire team at the bank, and people like Councillor Graeme Moore, who has been heavily involved in this from the start, it’s just been a fantastic community effort.”
Councillor Moore summed the mood of the club up perfectly during his speech.
“I’m not going to apologise for being emotional today, we all deserve to be emotional because this is something very special and something that has been long coming,” he said.
“What a great evening it is…all roads today lead to Lang Lang.”