|Location||Pittwater Road, Brookvale, NSW|
|Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (NSWRL/ARL/NRL) (1947–1999, 2003–Present)
Northern Eagles (NRL) (2000–2002)
Brookvale Oval is a sporting ground located within Brookvale Park at Brookvale, New South Wales, Australia. The ground is owned by Warringah Council and is primarily used by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles rugby league team. Brookvale Oval has an approximate capacity of 23,000 people.
As of July 2012, Brookvale Oval is the 2nd most played-on Australian professional rugby league ground in active use in the National Rugby League, having hosted 663 first grade games since Manly first played there in their inaugural game against Western Suburbs (now the Wests Tigers) in 1947 (only Leichhardt Oval with 794 games starting in 1934 has been used more).
The number of games played at Brookvale is in dispute however, with the Manly Sea Eagles stating in an article on their website in July 2012 that Brookvale would host its 600th NSWRL / ARL / NRL game in Round 18 of the 2012 NRL season with Manly hosting the Parramatta Eels.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2012)|
In the late nineteenth century, the suburb of Brookvale was known as Greendale. The name Brookvale was later adopted as that was the name of the home built by the original grantee of the land, William Francis Parker. It was in this area that Dan Farrell built his stone house called "Inverness" which was later to become Manly Leagues Club.
A block of nearby land called Farrell's Paddocks was sometimes used for local community events. This land was originally granted to William Redman in 1857. The original parcel was subsequently subdivided into smaller lots and sold. The change from agricultural use to public recreation did not occur until after the turn of the century following a period of lobbying by local residents for the Government to give the community a park.
'The area known as Lot 47 A (Land Titles Office Vol. 1524 Fol. 122) was sold to Jane Malcolm in April 1907. Land title records suggest that between 1907 and 1911, Malcolm carried out a subdivision of Lot 47A into four blocks. From Alfred Road in the west to Pine Avenue in the east, these lots respectively measured 2 acres 2 roods 12 perches, 4 acres 1 rood 4¼ perches, 2 acres 0 roods 22¼ perches and 2 acres 0 roods & 2 perches. Lot 47A became known in the early 1900s as “Farrell’s Paddock” (Dan Farrell was the first president of the Manly-Warringah Tramway League), as it was the location of a public gathering in April 1910 to celebrate the extension of the tram line from Manly to the village of Brookvale.' (Mayne-Wilson & Associates (2005). Heritage Report on Brookvale Park Pittwater Road, Brookvale. Dee Why: Warringah Council)
In the following year, the State Government reached agreement with Warringah Shire Council to acquire land for a park near the Shire’s Offices. The acquired land plus a smaller parcel of land bought from Miss Jane Malcolm (later known as Jane Try) from Brookvale, was officially opened in 1911 as Brookvale Park. 'Presumably inspired by local resident action at that time to secure a public park or village green for the suburb, Jane Malcolm presented to the Minister for Lands the largest of the four lots from Lot 47A (the lot measuring 4 acres 1 rood 4¼ perches) – under a caveat that it only ever be used for public recreation purposes. Although the ‘dedication’ refers strictly to the first lot of land donated by Jane Try, subsequent acquisitions by Council of the other lots owned by Mr & Mrs Try were described specifically for the purposes of public recreation or for enlarging the Park' (Mayne-Wilson & Associates, 2005).
The Park was transformed into a showground within the first decade. In 1921, the Brookvale Show was established with the formation of the Warringah Agricultural, Horticultural, Amateur Sports and Athletic Association. Between 1919 and 1928 children from Brookvale School planted trees to commemorate Arbor Day and it was the setting for school sports days and Empire Day picnics.
During the Second World War Brookvale Park was utilised by the Defence Force for training purposes.
On 25 April 1951, a new attendance record at Brookvale was set at 9,447, with spectators overflowing onto the field for a match between Manly and South Sydney.
Over fifty annual shows were held at Brookvale Park before the show was moved to St. Ives Showground. Trotting and ring events were features of early shows at Brookvale. The trotting track occupied a substantial area of the Park with lighting of the ring for night entertainment. Substantial improvements were later made to form a sporting oval by the addition of stands. Pavilions were constructed along Alfred Road to house show exhibits. Outside of the annual show period these pavilions were used for local church services and meeting rooms for the local community. They were also used by local bands as a place to practice.
'With the formation of the Manly-Warringah Rugby Club, known as the Sea Eagles, however, the situation changed. The horse events of the Show had to be transferred to an oval in Frenchs Forest because the horses’ hooves did too much damage to the turf of the rugby ground, and the Show itself ended its long association with the Park in 1992. The growth in popularity of the Rugby League competition led to the re-forming of the oval into a rectangular field in 1970-71, with major earthworks undertaken to form spectator ‘hills’ on the eastern and southern sides of it. Following this came the construction of simple but large concrete grandstands on the western and southern boundaries of the field, and finally the Ken Arthurson Pavilion that linked the two. The construction of these facilities necessitated the removal of the original grandstand and the various exhibition halls and show pavilion, and with that, the termination of their use by community organisations and their hiring out for social functions' (Mayne-Wilson & Associates, 2005).
While Manly Council favoured rugby union and would not permit league to be played at Manly Oval, Warringah Council was more sympathetic to the rugby league cause and encouraged the playing of rugby league matches at Brookvale Park. Thus when the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles were granted first grade status in 1947, the team's first match in the big league was a home game at Brookvale Oval against Western Suburbs. Manly played well against their more fancied opponents in that historic first match at Brookvale scoring three tries to one but narrowly losing the match 15 - 13 courtesy of a string of scrum penalties from referee Aub Oxford.
Brookvale has three grandstands stretching the western and southern sides of the ground. The Jane Try Stand, running along the western side is the biggest of the three. It is also one of the few grandstands of major Australian stadiums to be named after a woman. The Ken Arthurson stand in the south west corner, is the latest addition to the ground. It is named after the long serving Manly-Warringah, NSWRL and ARL administrator. The Fulton-Menzies Stand located at the southern end of the ground is elevated with standing room underneath. Originally just referred to as the Southern Stand, it was renamed after two Sea Eagles club legends, Bob "Bozo" Fulton and Steve "Beaver" Menzies. At the time of the stands renaming, Menzies and Fulton held the club try scoring records with 180 and 129 respectively, though Fulton's record was surpassed by fullback Brett Stewart in 2013. A large hill runs along the eastern and northern sides. The ground's capacity is around the 23,000 mark.
As the major stakeholder and leasee of the park, Manly-Warringah Football Club launched a "Save Brookie" campaign, aimed at government funding for improvement to the facilities including seating, accessibility, improved safety, corporate boxes and construction of another stand, likely behind the Eastern Hill. The Warringah Council (Local Government) initially pledged funding of $4,000,000 dependent on further grants from State and Federal Governments. The NSW State Government provided a further grant of $6,000,000 in June 2008, and the club has restated its aim for a further $6,000,000 to $10,000,000 from the Federal Government.
On 6 August 2013, that aim became a reality when the Federal Government guaranteed Brookvale Oval a grant of $10 million regardless of the Federal Election held in Australia on 7 September (Brookvale Oval sits in the seat of Warringah, currently held by the Liberal Party's Tony Abbot, the current Leader of the Federal Opposition). The money is part of a planned $30m upgrade of the oval which will include a new 4,350 seat grandstand complete with corporate facilities on the eastern hill, as well as upgrades to the Fulton-Menzies Stand. The northern or Family Hill is expected to remain as it is and the grounds capacity is expected to remain at around 23,000 when the planned re-development is finished.
The single record attendance for any event at Brookvale was set during a regular season clash between the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels on 31 August 1986 which drew 27,655 fans. Given changes to the configuration of the ground undertaken in the 1990s it is unlikely that this record will ever be broken. The game is officially declared sold out when crowds creep around the 20-22 000 mark, although no official cut-off is continuously used.
In 2006, the ground saw its largest average attendance over an entire season, with an average of 15,484 patrons watching each of the club's 11 matches played there. Since the club started playing in 1947, over seven million spectators have visited the ground.
In 2013, the ground was been marred by claims of racism and aggressive behaviour by fans, including recent taunting and racist slurs towards the wife and young daughter of Kiwis and Bulldogs forward Frank Pritchard.
The largest known attendance per decade at Brookvale Oval are as follows:
- 1947-49 - 3,600* - Manly vs Balmain, Round 6, 1947
- 1950-59 - 10,908* - Manly vs Western Suburbs, Round 6, 1958
- 1960-69 - 13,644 - Manly vs Newtown, Round 1, 1964
- 1970-79 - 25,876 - Manly vs Balmain, Round 11, 1976
- 1980-89 - 27,655 - Manly vs Parramatta, Round 26, 1986
- 1990-90 - 26,168 - Manly vs Canberra, Round 22, 1994
- 2000-09 - 20,163 - Manly vs Canterbury-Bankstown, Round 25, 2006
- 2010-13 - 20,510 - Manly vs South Sydney, Round 7, 2013
* Attendance records for most games played at Brookvale Oval not known from 1947-56.
Configuration for Sea Eagles games
Seating at the ground is in one of three linked grandstands. The Jane Try stand houses those season-ticket holders of the Manly-Warring ah Sea Eagles and is located on the western side of the ground. The JaneTry Stand opened in 1971 and was built at a cost of $250,000.
The second grandstand addition to Brookvale Oval was the Southern Stand built in 1979, located at the Southern end of the ground. The Southern Stand houses some corporate facilities. This stand was renamed at the eend of the 2008 season. It became the Fulton-Menzies Stand after club legends Bob Fulton and Steve Menzies.
The most recent structural addition to the ground is the Ken Arthurson stand. The Ken Arthurson Stand was officially opened on Sunday 14 June 1995. It was built at a cost of $3.3 million and seats 1,250 people. The stand is named for the greatest administrator in the club's history and contains corporate boxes as well as reserved seating for fans. The Ken Arthurson stand is located in the south-western corner of the ground between the Jane Try and Southern stands.
There is some limited general admission seating around the perimeter concourse of the ground with a depth of between 3 and 5 rows. Other general admission areas include the Eastern Hill, which spans the length of the eastern side of the ground, and the Scoreboard Hill (Family Hill) which is located is the behind underneath the scoreboard and temporary replay screen.
In 2011 Brookvale Oval proved to be a graveyard for opposition teams with Manly winning every single match at home on its way to winning the 2011 premiership. Not since the Bulldogs has a team won at Brookvale Oval, that coming in Round 26, 2010.
As of Round 13 of the 2012 NRL season, Fortress Brookvale as it has been nicknamed by Manly fans and the rugby league media, has hosted five NRL games with the reigning premiers winning four of them. The only loss coming against the Gold Coast Titans who were starting to find form after a miserable 2011 season.
Ground improvements over the off-season following the 2011 premiership win, primarily the extending of the Jane Try Stand to run the full length of the western touchline and the inclusion of much needed corporate facilities, meant that the Manly Sea Eagles were forced to play their first five games of the season away from home.
Brookvale Oval turf cover is predominantly kikuyu and there is a dense thatch (organic layer below turf) over the whole field resulting in a very spongy surface. There is a variable depth of slowly draining topsoil and a slight diagonal slope across the surface. There is no effective subsurface drainage system therefore excess water can only move via a slow infiltration process or across the surface.
- Brookvale Oval at Austadiums