Like thousands of Shire residents, the Cronulla Sharks run though the Durant family’s blood.
- Cronulla fans will vote on where the club should play its home games for the next two years
- Cronulla is the only club that owns its home ground
- There is speculation the club could be axed or relocated for a second Brisbane-based side
“I absolutely love it, going with my daughter Nikki and the grandkids and my other daughter. Love it, wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Thelma Durant, 71.
The Durant’s have been making the pilgrimage to Shark Park to watch their beloved team take the field for half a century.
“It’s our get-together as a family, the time we spend together, when you’re supporting the players you feel like you’re helping them across the line,” Nikki said.
But that will soon end — Cronulla fans are preparing to vote on where the club should play its home games for the next two years while their Woolooware headquarters is redeveloped.
Among the options are Wollongong and Kogarah Oval, while the new rectangular stadium at Parramatta is also an option.
The third possibility is playing fixtures interstate or in regional areas.
“It’s probably the most challenging period the club has ever gone through to make a big call like this but it’s for the betterment of the club,” Cronulla coach John Morris said.
“We just couldn’t trade through that and have home games when we’ve lost our car park and all the works out the front. That would have been a nightmare, hopefully fans support the team and not the ground.”
The prospect is too much for die-hard fans.
Some will pay more than $1,000 for membership to attend home games — but that could be hard if the location is interstate.
“It’s definitely going to impact the supporters showing up to the games,” Nikki said.
“It’s not fair members still have to pay $700, possibly more for a family to hold seats that you can’t use.”
Cronulla is the only NRL club that owns its home ground and management hopes other codes and NRL clubs will use the redeveloped venue, particularly while the Sydney Football Stadium is being rebuilt.
“If we can perform through this period we come back to a really nice leagues club, an updated ground, hopefully a centre of excellence,” John Morris said.
“And it’s really going to lay the foundations for this club to be around forever, so it’s an important era for the club to get right.”
The uprooting comes amid speculation Cronulla could be axed or relocated for a second Brisbane-based side.
The eighth-placed Sharks will be looking to cement their place in the NRL finals when they take on ninth-placed Wests Tigers, in this weekend’s final round of the home-and-away season.