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Years of hard work has paid off for the Maitland Saints

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More than five decades ago, Max McMahon Oval was opened in Rutherford. 

With an amenities block and field the size of the MCG, it was a welcome addition to the community but fast forward to 2022 and the facility is in desperate need of an upgrade. 

In its 50-year history, it’s never been renovated, it’s just had a couple of fresh coats of paint. 

Home to the Maitland Saints AFL Club, the oval is used by about 2,500 people each week.

So, when $3 million worth of funding was awarded to the facility on Wednesday, you couldn’t wipe the smile off club chair Duane Roy’s face. 

The money will be used to demolish the current amenities block to replace it with a state-of-the-art facility. 

“It’s an amazing change for the club,” Roy said.

“We’ve been working now for eight years to get some sort of facility upgrade and, as most people who have dealt with the council and government know, things can be very slow.

“We’ve got the largest AFL ground and when the rye grass is put down the surface is immaculate so it is seen as one of the premier playing grounds but unfortunately with the state of the other facilities it is just appalling.”

Maitland councillor Ben Mitchell, Liberal candidate for Paterson Brooke Vitnell, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher, Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold and Maitland Saints chair Duane Roy discuss the project while a little club member listens on.

The upgrade means the club will be more confident to host matches at the ground and it’ll also help them increase participation in the sport. 

Roy was full of thanks and praise for the people who helped deliver the funding, including Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold, Liberal candidate for Paterson Brooke Vitnell, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher and the club’s dedicated volunteers.

“I am a bit shocked at the moment, to tell you [the truth], it’s wonderful what Brooke and the minister have been able to do for us,” he said.

“It is also something that shows the real reward for years of hard work by countless numbers of volunteers so it’s great.

“I can’t tell you enough how much this means to us.”

When the upgrade is finished, Roy hopes to welcome more people to the sport. 

Currently, the club has three junior female teams, one senior female group, two male senior outfits, and nine junior boys or combined teams. 

“I think everyone is attracted to something shiny and new and I think not only will it attract people to the sport but it will also get attention to the game here as well,” he said.

“Trying to get the message through or out is not always easy when it is all done by volunteers.”

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