Home run: shade trees for Woodlands Road baseball complex

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Woodlands Road, the home of Campbelltown Ghosts Baseball Club, is so immaculate it’s hard to believe that it was once a rubbish tip.

The playing fields, or baseball diamonds, are manicured to almost within an inch of their lives, while the amenities building and its surrounds are spotlessly clean.

It’s fair to say that only mature trees providing shade are in short supply within this beautiful Campbelltown sporting complex.

But that is about to change because over the Christmas period Campbelltown Council outdoor staff planted 18 young native trees which will eventually make Woodlands Road an even more attractive sporting complex.

Yesterday morning federal MP Mike Freelander joined club president Paul Jackson to unveil a plaque marking the Jubilee grant for the plantings.

Greg Dewick, a former president, life member and current groundsman who played a pivotal role in securing the $10,000 grant, spoke about the process involved in the Queen’s Jubilee project. This was an Australian Government program to mark the late Queen Elizabeth 70th year on the throne.

Cr Riley Munro and director of city governance Phu Nguyen are there representing Campbelltown Council.

Two directors from sponsor Wests Group Macarthur, Steve Noyce and Greg Copeland, are also in attendance as are representatives of Baseball NSW.

Mr Jackson with Mike Freelander, and, top, with Greg Dewick.

Campbelltown Ghosts Baseball Club is one of the oldest sporting organisations in the area.

President Paul Jackson tells the South West Voice in Macarthur that the club origins go all the way back to 1956.

“The original baseballers of the area, a bit like the history of baseball in Australia, were cricketers who wanted to do something during winter, and they heard about this American sport called baseball,’’ he says.

A meeting was held, enough hands went up from those who wanted to play baseball and the Campbelltown Colonials club was born.

Mr Jackson says the club participated in the Cumberland Baseball League, which is the area across to Parramatta.

Campbelltown Colonials competed in that for number of years, went through a few changes, including merging with another local baseball club, the Bradbury Braves, before becoming the Campbelltown Ghosts in the mid-1970s.

“Now we have about 130 odd players, and teams in every age division of the Macarthur Baseball League,’’ says Mr Jackson.

“The youngest players are aged around four, and the oldest are in their 50s and 60s.

“We’re about participation and enjoyment of the game,’’ he says.

There are two competitions, one in summer and another in winter, and Mr Jacksons says the club, which has the reigning champions in Division 1 and 2 of the Macarthur Baseball League, is preparing for semi finals this weekend.

The winter season will start in April and finish in August, and in September the cycle will start again.

Paul Jackson, who first joined the club in 2019, took over the presidency from Greg Dewick a couple of years ago.

An umpire for 11 years and coach for seven, the Ghosts president has also played for 42 years – and is still playing.

It’s obvious he loves the club, hence the reason he accepted the invitation to take on the role of president.

“The thing that makes us a little different from other clubs is that our catchment area is the working class, lower socio economic areas of Campbelltown and north up to Ingleburn,’’ he says.

“We understand that because of the pressures on working families it’s important, especially in the digital age, to provide physical activity that is accessible and affordable to kids.

“This club is about ensuring that this is a family friendly, inclusive space – we want everyone to feel comfortable when they walk through the gates here,’’ Mr Jackson says.

“We try to teach our juniors that it’s important to play hard but fair, and above all else to conduct themselves with respect and dignity when they’re out there on the diamond.’’

Woodlands Road is one of the few baseball grounds with flood lighting for night matches.

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