THE storm’s force that ran through Mirboo North like a steam train on Tuesday, February 13, bent both goalposts at both ends of the Mirboo-North Recreation Reserve.

Mirboo North Football-Netball Club (MNFNC) President, Joe Piper said the club was in a bit of “shock” when they surveyed the damage in the wake of the storm.

“You can see by the way our goalposts are leaning on the ground – we’ve bowed to Mother Nature on this occasion, but we are a pretty resilient lot, and we’re going to stand tall again,” he said.

The Mirboo North Recreation Reserve was in good condition before the storm came.

“I was part of the team that put the posts in – there was a fantastic guarantee, but you can’t beat a tornado,” Piper said.

Incredible: The sheer force of the high winds was enough to bend the goal posts at Mirboo North Recreation Reserve. Photograph: Liam Durkin

It wasn’t just the goalposts that copped the hit, as falling trees came crashing down on fences and netting and gale-force winds lifted sheds.

“We’ve got a storage shed with mowers and landmarkers and that – it decided it wanted to move somewhere else in the world, and a lot of the roofing iron has got to be retrieved, obviously disposed and replaced,” the MFNC President said.

Last Monday’s preseason footy training looked a bit different for the boys at Mirboo; instead of lane work and run-throughs, they were cleaning debris, conducting welfare checks and distributing essential supplies.

“The community supports us through their sponsorship and membership, through donations, and we give back to them,” Piper said.

Piper said he was working with AFL Victoria, the South Gippsland Shire and the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League to organise potential support arrangements.

“The football-netball club and along with, say, the cricket club and others – we’ve been in existence for over 130 years, and one would have to say we’re just part of the community,” Piper said.

Rural communities love their sport, and in Mirboo North, it’s no different, with everyone reeling from the effects of the damage to the recreation reserve.

“If you live in Mirboo North, you are a barracker for Mirboo North,” Piper said.

Fronting news crews last Friday during Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan’s visit to the town, Piper said the community was in dire need of assistance.

“The Premier just (has) got to provide access to whatever funding availability that there is for right across our community – we’ve got residents that are hurting today, and we need to support them – they’ve done nothing other than to watch something rip apart their houses,” Piper said.

The club has started a GoFundMe to help raise money for the goalposts alongside other damages. The club is aiming to reach a funding goal of $30,000 to cover the cost of the clean-up and rebuild at the club.

With Mirboo North’s first home game of the 2024 Mid Gippsland season, set for April 20, Piper is concerned their ground may not be ready in time to host Foster, which would mean lost revenue from entry, canteen and bar sales.

Finding humour in the ordeal, Piper joked that perhaps the league should give Mirboo North the chance to kick goals between the only remaining posts left standing – the point posts.

Mirboo North Primary School Principal, Matt Snell is heavily involved in the community, and said sporting clubs were the lifeblood of Mirboo North.

With the golf club and scout hall in ruins alongside the damage done to the recreation reserve and pony club, Snell said recovery would be a challenging time for all concerned.

“I think the hardest thing for Mirboo North to bounce back will be the different groups in town,” he said.

“I know there is a lot of energy going into people’s properties and things like, and rightly so, but I feel for the community groups because it’s another event that will hopefully strengthen resolve but at the same time stretch resources.”

Sporting clubs in Mirboo North are reeling trying to address the damages. Mirboo North Cricket Club has lost $15,000 worth of covers and had maintenance equipment damaged.

Years upon years of hard work at the Mirboo North Golf Club have been left in tatters within moments as fallen trees and debris engulfed the fairways.

The local scouts have nowhere to meet as their scout hall was inundated with tree branches.

The Grand Ridge Rail Trail Parkrun has been suspended until debris from the trail is removed.

Snell said he has concerns about the financial impact the storm and subsequent clean-up will have on community sporting groups.

“The other thing is the Pony Club and the rail trail … that’s what I’m worried about … I do worry about the longer-term impacts on the clubs around the town,” he said.

Those wishing to donate to help Mirboo North FNC can do so via


Tough Tigers are facing their greatest challenge

I’VE honestly never seen anything like it.

One drive into Mirboo North last week would have had you convinced you were in the 2007 film I Am Legend.

The usually familiar sight of tall trees lining the Strzelecki Highway as you enter Mirboo North were gone, while branches protruding over the town’s welcome sign perhaps gave a cruel indication into just how strong the storm event was.

The superstorm of Tuesday, February 13 left a trail of destruction, which was still ongoing when this writer visited the scene on Friday.

Walking one of the fairways at the golf course, large branches were still falling – the sound of bark snapping and trunks crashing to the earth below from a great height was enough to make your heart skip a beat.

Locals have said pictures don’t do the damage justice.

Seeing it first-hand, albeit without the added burden of being directly impacted – that is absolutely the case.

The scene at the Mirboo North Recreation Reserve is indeed hard to fathom.

Just driving up the hill alone toward the ticket-box, a huge tree lies to the side of the road allowing vehicle access.

Wiped out: The view from behind the goals at Mirboo North Recreation Reserve following last week’s storm. Photograph: Liam Durkin

It is an eerie, almost haunting walk toward the toppled goal posts at the scoreboard end, behind which is home to countless fallen trees and branches.

Both goalposts are lying flat facing straight back down the ground. At the other end, they are bent at right angles over the fence.

To think this is the same ground Tim Traill kicked more than 100 goals on countless times, or where Essendon premiership player Bill Snell cut his teeth way back in the 1940s.

The mere thought of even playing football in that moment is so far removed from this scene.

As a football team that became famous for performing supernatural deeds over the last decade, even Mirboo North was powerless in the wake of the storm.

These on-field deeds however have correlated strongly to a never-say-die attitude.

Such a notion is perhaps in keeping with something that appears engrained in the Mirboo North psyche.

Those reading the Mirboo North Football-Netball Club notes in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League Spectator during winter will notice each week, without fail, the phrase ‘refuse to lose Tigers’ concludes each submission.

If this mentality extends beyond the football field and netball court, there is no doubting Mirboo North will rebuild.