Heart of a Dragon - Kogarah mayor,
Jim Taylor

Heart Of A Dragon : Kogarah Mayor Jim Taylor is a St.George-Illawarra league fan through and through - and he's reignited the push to get the Dragons back to Kogarah Oval.

The St.George-Illawarra Dragons want to get their team playing at Kogarah Jubilee Oval again to bring the game back to the people.

The club believes it needs about $500,000 to bring Jubilee Oval up to a standard to cater for crowds up to 15,000 in 2003.

A groundswell of support is building for the Dragons' return since Kogarah Council on Monday approved a maintenance program over the next year.

"That will be the first major step in ensuring the Dragons have the option to return home in 2003 and remain at Kogarah for the next 50 years," mayor Jim Taylor told the council.

While the maintenance program identifies spending of $118,000 over the next 12 months, substantially more work is required if the

Dragons are to return to Kogarah, initially for five games per year.

This includes better toilet facilities - the outer ground still offers only concrete urinals - and a new scoreboard.

Other work includes maintenance and upgrading the grandstand to meet current building requirements, plumbing repairs, replacing the power distribution system and lighting and ventilating rooms inside the stand.

The executive officer of St.George rugby league club, Robert Stone, said the Dragons would probably seek a guarantee from the NRL on scheduling games during the day.

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust is meeting with NRL boss David Gallop and head of operations, Graham Annesley, tomorrow to discuss the return.

"There needs to be an audit by the NRL operations people to see what they believe needs to be done to the ground to bring it up to standard," he said.

Former Saints great Johnny Raper, said: "We have an obligation to the people of the St.George area. No matter what part of the competition St.George would be in, Kogarah Oval would be filled."

Mayor Taylor told the Council on Monday the maintenance program "has been formulated initially on the basis of what essential work would need to be carried out to ensure the oval was available to be used by St.George Illawarra in the 2003 season."

The council and St.George Leagues Club, the ground tenant, will share the cost of the maintenance - $73,000 and $45,000 respectively.

Funds for the extra work must still be identified.

Local MPs met with the club in May. One of them, Morris Iemma, the Minister for Sport and Recreation, will meet with the club again today to discuss government support.

Kogarah MP Cherie Burton said : "I will be making further representations to the minister for funding assistance that will enable minor upgrade works so St.George can play some games at Kogarah."

from: St.George Leader 25/07/2002