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Honouring a local legend at Lavington Sports Ground

Tuesday 28 March 2023

AlburyCity has endorsed naming the new section of grandstand at the Lavington Sports Ground the C.T. Donnolley Stand after community support for the name.

The existing grandstand at Lavington Sports Ground, the W.G. Hartley Stand, was constructed as part of the initial development of the facility in the 1970’s. The grandstand was named after William George Hartley, a former Lavington Football Club president and leading fundraiser for the Lavington Sports Club, the Lavington Swim Centre and fire brigade. Hartley fought at Gallipoli and was wounded in action in France. He passed away in 1971.

The $20m redevelopment of the Sports Ground which opened in 2020 saw additional grandstand facilities added with 600 undercover seats, coaches, media and administration spaces, and a dedicated function area.

Following the upgrades, AlburyCity received a proposal from a Mr Happy Wetmore, a former Lavington Football Club player and long-time supporter. Mr Wetmore requested that the new section of grandstand be named after the late Col Donnolley due to his significant involvement with the development of the  sports ground and sports club in its early days.

Col Donnolley first became involved with the Lavington Football Club in 1958, serving as President for 17 years from 1959-1976. He enhanced the club’s future on-field success by progressing their junior base, and ensured their financial viability by forming the Lavington Sports Club. He also grew participation by introducing other sports to the club including basketball, netball, bowls, social golf, squash, cycling, athletics, darts, snooker and cards.

Col led a group of committed individuals in the planning of the original Lavington Sports Club and oval, the subsequent purchase of the land, construction and opening of these facilities.

He was also the founding Secretary of the Albury Cycling Club and secretary and referee for Riverina Zone of NSW League of Wheelmen. Col's cycling involvement and contacts meant he was instrumental in the development and coordination of the initial athletics and cycling carnivals at the facility, which became very popular through the 1970’s and 80’s, attracting elite athletes and significant prize money. These carnivals developed the early reputation of the grounds, and ensured it was a well-known regional sporting facility.

Sadly, Col passed away in 2009 at age 90. Some of his children still live in the Albury area.

The naming of the new grandstand will honour this local legend, as well as enabling the differentiation of the two sections. It also provides an opportunity to update the existing grandstand signage.

Mayor Kylie King said she was pleased to see the community get behind the name.

"The naming of the grandstand is an opportunity to honour Col for the important contribution he made to our local sporting community, and ensure his legacy lives on," Mayor King said.

To find out more about the Lavington Sports Ground, visit the AlburyCity website.