The first half of Gary Belcher’s illustrious eight year career at the Canberra Raiders was spent with Seiffert Oval as his home ground and the champion fullback is thrilled that the club is taking their final trial of the year back to their spiritual home.
Since their inception into the NSWRL in 1982 to their inaugural premiership in 1989, Seiffert Oval was the home of the Canberra Raiders, before the reigning premiers shifted to GIO Stadium for the 1990 season.
Belcher remembers his days at Seiffert Oval with great affection.
“I have great memories of Seiffert Oval and I think that it’s great to see the club taking their final trial of the year back there to their spiritual home,” Belcher enthused.
“I’ve got great memories playing at both Seiffert Oval and Bruce Stadium (GIO Stadium) but Seiffert will always be close to my heart because it’s where myself and the club as a whole started in the NSWRL.
“We loved it and had a good record at the ground. We won our first premiership in 1989 playing with Seiffert Oval as a home ground so will always be a special place to us.
"Opposition teams hated playing there, but we loved it. It was a nice, close atmosphere and the grass there was relatively thick so it wasn’t a super-fast ground but we played a fast brand of footy and the visiting teams weren’t used to the heaviness of the ground and we’d run them over late in each half.
“The ground provides a great atmosphere because everything is nice and close and it would be really intimidating for opposition teams but great for us.
“There’s so much standing room at the ground and that’s one of the beauties of the ground; it made for a great sight when you looked over and saw so many lime green jumpers and scarves.
“It’s a shame they aren’t letting cars park inside the ground around the eastern side just like the old day though; we used to love hearing the car horns honk when we’d score a try!”
Belcher’s former team mate and current NRL Coach Ricky Stuart has implemented a great deal of importance on educating the current squad on the history and achievements of this proud club.
Throughout pre-season training there were multiple punishments issued out on the training paddock for individuals who did not know a certain fact about the club’s history when queried by a trainer.
Belcher believes that playing at Seiffert Oval will be a special experience for the players and provide a unique time warp to convey the club’s origins and where they have come from.
Rugby League is a part of the fabric that comprises the town of Queanbeyan and Belcher believes the trial deserves nothing less than a sell-out.
“I’d like to think that the trial will be a sell-out because it deserves to be and it will be big buzz for the current players to play there,” said the 1986-87 Meninga Medallist. “Ricky is big on tradition and this will provide the players with a great insight into the club’s origins. He’s also a Queanbeyan boy so I can imagine he’d be looking forward to the trial a great deal just as the rest of the town will be.
With the trial against the Newcastle Knights at Seiffert Oval being the final hit-out for the year for the Green Machine, it is only fitting to ask Belcher, now a Fox Sports Commentator, his predictions for the Raiders in 2015.
“As a supporter I’d like to see them do well every year but I do think that 2015 should be a big improvement for the side.”
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Authot: Simon McGuinness I Twitter: @Simon_mcg1