New Yallourn No1 Oval - George BatesThe start of a great oval
(from left) Jack Huxtable, Paddy O’Neil, Eddie Keating, Alex McGregor, John Boag, Jim Fry

George Bates Reserve started out as the Yallourn No 1 oval in the township of Yallourn. With the closure package from the SECV, the facility and club was amalgamated with the Yallourn North club and gifted to the Yallourn North township. A rival bid was undertaken by Newborough, but they were unsuccessful.

After the realisation that the removal of Yallourn township was imminent, an impromptu meeting was held on the 10th August 1975. At 11am the first formal meeting was held with both football clubs present. Many further meetings were held in the period around 1975, and on the Thursday the 12th of August 1976 the decision to relocate Yallourn’s No 1 oval and buildings to Yallourn North was ratified by Mr Ray Burkitt, who was an Independent Arbitrator for the SEC.

$275,000 was set aside for the replacement of the oval, with Narracan Shire agreeing to cover any costs above $25,000 for the earthworks. It was up to the clubs themselves to relocate the buildings with some assistance.

Logging Works - George Bates ReserveLogging work done
(from left) Paddy O’Neil, John Boag, Jim Fry, Alex McGregor,
Brian Baillie, Eddie Keating, Jack Huxtable, Malcolm and Wayne Paulet

Part of the agreement was that the new ground and club was an ‘amalgamation’, therefore it had to keep the Yallourn name. So since 1977, the club has been known as Yallourn-Yallourn North.

The new oval became known as the George Bates Reserve after a General Manager of the SECV, who was long time servant to the Yallourn Football Club. It was officially opened in 1981, though a few games were held on site prematurely. The old rooms from Yallourn became the club’s Social Rooms at George Bates, with the original scoreboard also being relocated. The club boasts much memorabilia which is on display within the club rooms in the old stage area.

Original plans for the reserve, and the reason for the reserve’s chosen location, was that a new residential estate was to be built. It was to approach from the south-west, which would have begun at Latrobe River Road (colloquially known as ‘the old road’). Unfortunately because of a new noise pollution buffer, this was never to eventuate.

Today Yallourn-Yallourn North Football Netball Club is a well established club with over 100 years of history. Since 1986 it has formed part of the Mid-Gippsland Football league.

 WP_20150502_11_24_34_Pro3George Bates Reserve today

With kind assistance from Alec McGregor and Gil Julin
For more detail on local history contact The Old Brown Coal Mine Museum
Or the Yallourn Yallourn North Football Netball Club