Last Sunday was a day of bittersweet emotion at Geraldton’s historic Recreation Ground Oval when City of Greater Geraldton Councillor and local sporting identity, Peter Fiorenza, officially opened the Colin “Scruffy” Burgess Grandstand before the main game of the day.
Named in memory of the well-known and respected community identity who gave so much to local football, and restored to its former glory – and more – the Recreation Ground grandstand, home to Railway Football Club, has long been touted as the best seat in the house when it comes to watching a local game of footy.
After languishing in disrepair for more than eight years, the City fully funded the $1.5 million restoration with works undertaken in cooperation with the Recreation Ground Management Committee, including a canteen refit, new change rooms and landscaping.
A large crowd including City representatives and Scruffy’s former workmates from the Geraldton Fire Station, gathered to watch his wife, Gerry, and Management Committee Chairman, Tony Caniglia, unveil the plaque in Scruffy’s name.
“The naming of the grandstand in his honour is a very special tribute that we as his family will always treasure,” Gerry said.
“There are no words to describe how proud we are of Scruff and the contributions he made to football, the fire brigade and the community.”
Cr Fiorenza paid tribute to Scruff, the family man, career firefighter, Railway Football Club and GNFL life member, recalling his commitment to Railway Football Club of 47 years as either a player or trainer until a serious illness cut his life short at 65.
“Scruffy was also a career firefighter for 43 years, based at the Geraldton Fire Station. He joined the Volunteer Fire Brigade at 17 and spent six years as a volunteer,” said Cr Fiorenza.
“In total Scruffy spent around 50 years protecting the community’s residents from the dangers and consequence of fire.”
In what could be seen as another fitting tribute to Scruff, Railway’s went on to defeat Towns in the League game.