It had been 26 years since I last stepped foot on the green turf of the Manawatu Turbos' home ground.

Back then, we Massey students enjoyed its proximity to the Railway Hotel, and often turned up to support Manawatu as our adopted team, typically in the rain.

Two-and-a-half decades later nothing (apart from its name) has changed. Now with the endearing title of Central Energy Trust Arena Manawatu, three quarters of the arena is still dominated by open-air terraced stands - the likes of which you'd expect to see hammered together at a country sports club.

A discoloured speedway track sporting weeds runs its circumference and acts as a limestone moat between you and the action.


Still, as we discovered all those years ago, this doesn't preclude fun.

Come last Saturday's game I offered my three daughters $2 for the loudest "C'mon the Bay" during the match. Their limp first efforts soon spiralled into a game of one-upmanship.

My youngest surprisingly scooped the prize. With her whole body shaking, she let loose a blood-curdling belter in the second half that left her eyes bloodshot. Given the unexpected symptoms of loyalty, and the nearby opposition supporters' increasing irritation, I declared the competition over.

Despite the underwhelming, unloved ground, it was heartening to see the Magpies scoop the Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy for the first time since 2013.

I came away not with ill-feelings towards Palmy, but with some perspective on how polished the Bay's home paddock really is.

Thanks should go to some generous local benefactors who've rendered McLean Park into something a provincial home team and fanbase can be proud of.

C'mon the Bay.