North Melbourne's Jack Ziebell. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
THROUGH the years, North Melbourne's players and coaches had to deal with poor training facilities at their inner-city Arden Street base.
The gym was in the dilapidated social club, complete with its leaking roof, while coaches were based in portable offices.
It didn't stop the club from enjoying sustained success under Denis Pagan but, in this modern age, it meant the Roos began well behind many of their competitors.
As the last strips of turf were rolled out across their extended training oval on Friday - it is now the same size as Etihad Stadium - it was clear the Kangaroos no longer have such worries.
While spending in their football department may not match some clubs, in terms of facilities the Kangaroos, already with a $15.1 million redevelopment of their training and administration facilities, are now at the pointy end. Although vice-captain Jack Ziebell joked that may not be such a good thing.
The bigger the ground, the more running players would have to do, and that, said Ziebell, means ''running laps is not going to be as fun''.
Ziebell, though, is a diligent trainer and soon explained why the revamped ground was needed. ''Compared to the old football oval we had here, the size is much bigger, it's of Etihad standards. I think it's going to allow us to run two kilometres more per session in main skills,'' he said. ''When you think about that, it's going to be huge in our fitness gains.''
The larger ground should also help the players implement coach Brad Scott's game plan, although it won't be until February before the new turf has settled, allowing the players to return from their interim training venue at Craigieburn.
''Going back last year, and a couple of years, with the old ground, we struggled a little bit to find space as midfielders coming out of defence and stuff like that,'' Ziebell said on Friday. ''Especially when you have 36 guys on the field, it's good to be able to find a bit of space that you would find on the MCG, and Etihad Stadium. To be able to use that day in, day out, is going to be great.''
Heading into the Christmas break, the Kangaroos have completed a punishing fortnight of training, with fitness staff keen to maximise the benefits of the club's high-altitude camp in Utah.
Through this slog, a determination to make amends for last season's stinging 96-point elimination-final loss against West Coast has been felt.
''It definitely wasn't the way we wanted to play finals football. It had been four years since we had been in the finals. To perform like that was quite disappointing,'' Ziebell said.