Lakewood – “The Meeting Place”
Bonnet Bay’s Soccer Club’s home ground enjoys an idyllic location along the shores of the Woronora River. When the original plans were approved for the suburb of Bonnet Bay a site was designated to become a marina. However, after much lobbying by local residents Council agreed during the mid to late 70s that the 3.3 hectare site should be dedicated as a passive recreation and playing fields.
When Bonnet Bay Soccer Club opened its doors in 1982 this site became its home ground and was simply known as Stage 10. It’s name was subsequently changed to Lakewood City Reserve on 16 April 1983 in recognition of Sutherland Shire Council’s Sister City, Lakewood, Colorado, USA which had previously dedicated an area as Sutherland Shire Park which is in Sutherland Shire Boulevarde. The sister city relationship was established in 1976.
While Lakewood has always been an unparalleled location, in those early days it wasn’t much of a field. The land had been reclaimed and was still settling down and it quickly became a quagmire in heavy rain. There was neither a clubhouse nor any toilets. The club ran its affairs from a canvas tent before upgrading to a distinctive green caravan that is fondly remembered by the “pioneer” members.
Training lights were installed on the eastern side of the ground and finally a clubhouse was built with the assistance of council. This provided basic storage, canteen and dressing room facilities as well as public toilets, but would eventually prove inadequate as the club grew.
Over a long period of time a dedicated band of people slowly turned the playing surface at Lakewood into one of the best in the shire. This was complemented by improved presentation on match day with new goal posts, box nets and colourful corner flags.
With the support of NSW Government grants in 2001 and 2002, the club installed two lighting towers on the western side of the field and made significant improvements to the clubhouse which included 3 new storage areas, a dedicated ground control room, the best barbecue area of any ground in the shire and a hard stand area which has become the focal point of the socialisation of the club. There are even mobile heaters to roll out for the comfort of patrons. Lakewood is now great meeting place and a hub of the strong Bonnet Bay community
The association staged the AL1 grand final at Lakewood in 2001 which was just recognition of the efforts of many people who had got the ground to that standard. It is important to note the contributions of John Watson, Craig McCallum, Peter Harrison and Rob Morris in the development of Lakewood over the past 12 years as well as the leadership of Glenn Elms who drove a number of changes that occurred during his presidency. This is not to forget the efforts of those early pioneers who did it tough with minimal resources but fostered Lakewood’s potential for future members.
The next decade saw the playing surface of Lakewood deteriorate significantly due to the combined factors of water restrictions and the stress from additional training and games as the club grew rapidly. This was alleviated by the addition of Prince Edward Park, Woronora as a training venue in 2011 after lights were installed thanks to contributions by the State Government, Council and the Club.
A major upgrade of lighting in 2011 saw Lakewood host its first night matches which will hopefully become a regular feature.
Lakewood received a long overdue facelift before the 2012 season thanks to the support of Council and the Sutherland Shire Junior and Senior Cricket Associations who agreed to relocate the cricket pitch to the centre of the football field and to make a financial contribution to the work. A new area also emerged with the cricket pitch area to be covered with a synthetic cover each winter rather than the dirt players and officials have had to endure over the first 30 years.
We now look forward to a major expansion of the clubhouse in the near future which will be the culmination of many years of planning by a number of club members.
Prince Edward Park
BBFC’s enormous growth during the mid 2000s saw it outgrow Lakewood with teams being scheduled to play home matches at other club’s fields. This was resolved in 2008 when the club was allocated Prince Edward Park at Woronora as a second home field.
Like Lakewood Prince Edward Park occupies a beautiful position alongside the Woronora River. BBFC could now argue the two most scenic locations in the shire as its home fields.
Prince Edward Park had not been used regularly for competition sport for many years and BBFC has, with the support of council, brought the ground to an acceptable level. This is a work in progress but it is exciting that council are planning to upgrade the entire park over the next years which has potential to rival the amenity of Lakewood.
Like Lakewood covering the cricket pitch with dirt would no longer be required after 2011 thanks to a joint venture between BBFC and Sutherland Shire Junior Cricket to install a multi-sport surface over the cricket pitch.