The West

Tigers home away from home
Mark Seaby at the Showground. Pic: Megan Powell

It is not quite their spiritual home but Claremont will return to their original home today when they host Peel at the Claremont Showground.

The Tigers played their first season in 1926 at the Showground — losing all eight appearances — but will call the Royal Agricultural Society base their home for at least the next two years while Claremont Oval is redeveloped into the country's best State league facility.

The only other WAFL match played at the ground was the season-opener in 2005 when Claremont played West Perth amid considerable debate over the club's future location.

It was a game notable for Robbie Swift kicking a crucial late goal to give Claremont victory by one point and the presence of then WA planning minister Alannah MacTiernan who revealed her WAFL loyalties by wearing a hand-knitted West Perth scarf.

Claremont used that game as a showpiece as they considered a permanent move to the Showground before their plans changed dramatically in the years that followed.

It was MacTiernan's energy that provided much of the early impetus for the project that will eventually see hundreds of apartments built around Claremont Oval while the Tigers expect to move into their new $16 million facility in 2016.

Now the federal member for Perth, she admitted being frustrated by the funereal pace of the development but praised Claremont for their willingness to embrace change.

“It is quite bizarre that even with the best will in the world from most stakeholders, it has still taken so long to get to this stage,” MacTiernan said.

“It is a complex project and I am glad Claremont stuck with it and showed some real long-term vision when it would have been easy to say it was too hard and simply give up.

“It is important that the WAFL clubs remain sustainable and this provides a good model for the other clubs to consider.”

Trinity Handley is the only Claremont player from that 2005 match still in action but the veteran utility isn't playing in league ranks today as he recovers from a hamstring strain.

Ruckman Mark Seaby was on West Perth's list at the time but was unable to play for either the Falcons or his AFL club West Coast because of his own hamstring injury at the start of that season.

Seaby, who played in a West Coast flag and was on the Sydney list when they won in 2012, will make his 100th WAFL appearance today to complement his 120 AFL games.

The big left-footer, who turns 30 next Thursday, will become just the 30th player to make 100 appearances in both competitions.

His ability to combat a Thunder team packed with Fremantle tall timber will be critical to Claremont's prospects of overcoming the winless Peel.

The Showground is 164m x 142m – making it slightly bigger than the SCG. The Showground special events train station will be operating today.

The West Australian

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