Club appeals for Cr’s dismissal

The centre wicket under water at Wal Turner Reserve. Its repair has been scheduled prior to the next cricket season.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

In an extraordinary powerplay, Silverton Cricket Club has urged voters to bounce out sitting Greater Dandenong councillor Maria Sampey.

In a mailout to Noble Park North households, the club’s president Cam Waddell and senior coach Simon Beshara stated that “it is time for new representation”.

“Year after year Noble Park North is denied any new assets or upgrades, whilst all other councillors within the City of Greater Dandenong succeed in getting investments in their areas.

“The one constant over the last 20 years is Councillor Maria Sampey!”

Cr Sampey says she’s being unfairly targeted given the ward was represented by a pair of councillors, including herself.

“The club is rewriting history.

“It takes six people on council to make a decision – it’s not just me.”

Mr Waddell told the Star Journal that two club members had funded the letterbox drop in the “unique” foray into local elections.

Silverton sought a councillor with “vision and an ability to get projects implemented”. It was backing club volunteer Lana Formoso in the same Noble Park North seat, he said.

In April, the club waged a blistering attack after the council abandoned a long-awaited masterplan for Silverton’s home ground, WJ Turner Reserve.

It was the fourth scrapped masterplan for the reserve, which hadn’t had a major upgrade for 40 years.

In August, Greater Dandenong Council finally promised a $610,000 upgrade of the dilapidated nets, flood-prone centre wicket and the pavilion changerooms and kitchen – something the club credits Cr Zaynoun Melham and other councillors.

Mr Waddell said he’d worked “night and day” with Cr Melhem to help revive the upgrades.

On the club’s Facebook page, Silverton has also endorsed the seven remaining Greater Dandenong councillors seeking re-election.

They had acted “positively” in the end to vote for the recent upgrades, Mr Waddell said.

The club’s past players awarded the Spirit of Silverton award to Cr Melhem for being the “only one prepared to fight for our survival”.

It’s the first time the medal was bestowed to a non-player.

The club has also backed ALP member candidate Ahmed Shukri in Yarraman Ward.

Mr Waddell said the club may suffer ramifications if different candidates are elected on council.

“But we’re operating from a low base already”.

In response, Cr Sampey said the club needed to realise the pavilion and reserve belonged to the council as well as the needs of neighbouring Silverton Primary School and residents.

“They think that ground belongs to them.

“I’ve never struck a cricket team that’s so political.

“I’d like to know how many members live in our city because it just cheeses me off that we’re spending all this money… I’d like to know if they’re paying rates.”

Departing councillors Matthew Kirwan and Peter Brown leapt to Cr Sampey’s defence.

“Cr Maria Sampey has been instrumental in getting upgrades for the Silverton Cricket Club,” Cr Kirwan wrote.

Cr Brown agreed, saying the club shot down Cr Sampey. He also paid credit to Cr Melhem for his advocacy on the nets upgrade.

In a blow to her re-election chances, Cr Sampey is preferenced fourth by her ALP-member rivals Ms Formoso, Pradeep Hewavitharana and Nizar Ashkar’s how-to-vote cards.

“I just have to get number ones (votes) and stick it up them.”