Thebarton Oval

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Adelaide Airport Stadium
Thebby Oval
Former names Thebarton Oval
Location Ashley Street, Torrensville, South Australia 5031
Coordinates 34°55′2″S 138°33′53″E / 34.91722°S 138.56472°E / -34.91722; 138.56472Coordinates: 34°55′2″S 138°33′53″E / 34.91722°S 138.56472°E / -34.91722; 138.56472
Owner City of West Torrens
Operator City of West Torrens
Capacity 15,000
Field size Football: 160m x 130m
Surface Grass
Opened 1922
Tenants
West Torrens Eagles (SANFL) (1922-89)
Gridiron Association of South Australia (1989-96, 2010-11)
South Australian Rugby League (1992-95)
South Australian Baseball Team (2003-08)
Woodville-West Torrens Eagles (SANFL) (2006-present)
South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL) (2008-present)

Thebarton Oval (currently known as Adelaide Airport Stadium) is a sports ground in Adelaide, South Australia currently used for a variety of sports including Australian rules football. It was the home ground of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club West Torrens between 1922 and 1989, and since 2008 has been the home of the South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL).

History[edit]

Thebarton has been home over the years to a number of other sports including speedway, soccer, gridiron, baseball and rugby league.

The record crowd at Thebarton was set on May 26, 1962 when 20,832 fans turned up to see West Torrens take on SANFL rivals Norwood.

After first playing their home games at Jubilee Oval (1987-1904) and Hindmarsh Oval (1905-1921), West Torrens moved from Hindmarsh to the nearby Thebarton Oval in 1922. Thebarton would remain the home of West Torrens until 1989. The Eagles moved to Football Park for 1990 before their perilous financial situation forced them into a merger with the Woodville Football Club from 1991. The new club would be known as the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and would use the Warriors ground Woodville Oval as their home base.

West Torrens played their last game at the ground in on 2 September 1989 ending a run of 68 seasons at Thebarton Oval. After the Eagles left, the ground subsequently deteriorated through lack of maintenance, though other sports would regularly use the oval including cricket, rugby league, baseball, gridiron and soccer. The South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL) also regularly used Thebarton Oval. In 2008 the SAAFL set up their headquarters at the ground, which saw a permanent return of football to Thebarton.

Due to Woodville Oval's use by Grade Cricket in the summer months, Woodville-West Torrens use Thebarton as their pre-season base, as well as having played two games there (2009 and 2012). This has seen efforts made to upgrade the ground in the past few years including, upgrading the areas surrounding the ground, replaced the perimeter fencing, installing new seating in the stands, and a complete replacement of the grounds light towers.

In March 2012, it was announced that Thebarton Oval would be renamed Adelaide Airport Stadium, following a sponsorship agreement with Adelaide Airport.[1]

On Friday 23 March 2012, Thebarton Oval hosted its first SANFL match since 2009, and its first night game since the 1983 Escort Cup Grand Final, when the reigning premier Eagles hosted their hated rivals from Port Adelaide to open the 2012 SANFL season. The game was taken to Thebarton not only to take advantage of the upgraded lights and open the season with a Friday night game, but because of the unavailability of the Eagles usual home ground Unleash Solar Oval due to being in use for Grade Cricket. The Magpies spoiled the Eagles' first game under lights at the former West Torrens home ground with a 55 point win 18.13 (121) to 10.6 (66) in front of 4,566 fans.[2]

Facilities[edit]

The ground consists of concrete terracing all around the oval with a mound extending the entire outer wing as well as two grandstands on the north-east wing with seating in the Hank Brothers Stand and the Phil Ridings Stand for up to 3,500 people. The grounds current football dimensions are 160m x 130m. The Hank Brothers Stand was originally going to be named the Bob Hank Stand in honor of West Torrens two-time Magarey Medallist. However, at Hank's insistence, the name was changed to recognize his brothers Bill and Ray and their contribution to the club. All three brothers were prominent members of the strong West Torrens teams of the 1950s (including the 1953 SANFL premiership win, the last West Torrens would win as a stand-alone club), and thus the name became the Hank Brothers Stand.

Thebarton Oval is owned by the City of West Torrens which has leased out the ground to a series of tenants since 1991. The current major tenant is the South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL), who use the venue as an administrative and training base, as well as a venue for some matches during the season. The SANFL Umpires department is also based at Thebarton, with umpires training there during the SANFL Season.

With Woodville-West Torrens looking to play selected SANFL night games at the venue after Friday night games at other suburban grounds that had lights installed had proved popular, the SAAFL made efforts to upgrade the six light towers at the oval. The lights had been installed when night football became popular in the 1950s, and along with Norwood Oval, Thebarton was a regular host of the SANFL night series, including hosting most of the night Grand Finals until Football Park's lights were first used in 1984.

The original six light towers that had been in place for almost 60 years, despite no longer being in use by the SANFL (though they were used by the SAAFL and other sports until 2011), were finally torn down in mid-2012. In their place four new light towers, each holding 18 lights giving three different levels of lighting, were installed and ready for use by March 2012 and were first used in full for the opening game of the 2012 SANFL season.[3]

The three levels of lighting are:

  • Level one for training
  • level two for SAAFL night games
  • Level three (full) for SANFL night games[4]

Thebarton hosted the last ever SANFL Night Grand Final held at a suburban ground when the 1983 SANFL Escort Cup Grand Final was played between West Torrens and South Adelaide. The Glenn Elliott coached Eagles won their last SANFL championship by defeating the Graham Cornes coached Panthers 7.15 (57) to 5.7 (37). It would be the last SANFL night game played at a suburban ground until Norwood started playing night home games in the early 2000s.

References[edit]

External links[edit]