Wentworth Park, playing fields and grandstand
|Former names||Wentworth Oval|
|Location||Wentworth Park Road, Glebe, New South Wales 2037|
|Operator||Wentworth Park Sporting Complex Trust|
|Glebe Dirty Reds (NSWRL) (1908-1929)|
Wentworth Park is a multi-purpose sporting facility in the suburb of Glebe in New South Wales, Australia. that is used for various sports including rugby union, rugby league, soccer, greyhound racing, and speedway. Wentworth Park is located 2 kilometres from the Sydney central business district.
Currently greyhound racing is conducted there on Friday and Saturday nights as well as some Public Holidays. Races are conducted over 520m and 720m. The track is a loam surface having been converted from grass in the 1990s. Hurdle racing was a feature of Wentworth Park until the early 1980s. It fell away and annual events were held in December for a number of years until the mid-1990s.
Wentworth Park was originally a rugby league park in the Glebe area, the home ground of the Glebe Dirty Reds who were a part of the New South Wales Rugby League premiership back in its inception. Greyhound racing is held each Friday and Saturday night.
Wentworth Park was not always a football oval. It commenced its life as a creek and swamp, known from the 1830s as Blackwattle Cove Swamp. Between the 1830s and 1860s various noxious industries were established along the shore, including, in particular, abattoirs and boiling down works. The pollution from these works so befouled the swamp that even after the removal of these establishments from the area, the local council lobbied to have the area in-filled because of the stench that continued to arise from the water and mud.
Infilling of the creek and head of the swamp commenced in 1876 and continued until 1880. Silt dredged from the harbour was used to carry out the process and numerous sea walls and dykes were constructed as part of the program. When the area was filled Trustees were appointed to manage the new park and a competition was announced to design the new facility. After numerous complaints regarding the management of the competition the construction commenced and by 1882 opinion had turned favourably to the new ovals, greens, paths, lakes and other facilities offered in the Park, now named Wentworth after the politician of the same name.
Throughout the 1880s and 1890s the park came to serve as a focus for community activities including concerts, celebrations, moving pictures and in particular the home of Glebe Dirty Reds rugby league team and sport in general. During the 1910 Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand an Australasian team defeated Great Britain at the ground before approximately 18,000.
The commencement of hostilities for World War I led to a downturn in patronage of the Park's amenities although community functions, such as stretcher drills and polling were carried out here. The main effect of World War I was the introduction of a large number of timber sheds used to store wool for the war effort. These sheds lingered on at the park for a number of years after the war.
From 1928 until 1936, Wentworth Park was also used as a speedway and was known as Wentworth Speedway. The first racing took place on 21 April 1928 and continued until 28 November 1936. Motorcycle speedway was the first category to use the venue, with competitors including future Speedway World Champions Lionel Van Praag and Bluey Wilkinson. Wentworth Park was the site of Sydney's first ever Speedcar race on 5 October 1935. The final speedway meeting was to have taken place on 5 December 1936, but track damage and noise complaints saw the meeting cancelled.
The Greyhound Owners Breeders and Trainers Association (GBOTA) is the primary tenant of Wentworth Park and has been since the 1980s (previously sharing with the now defunct NSW National Coursing Association Club). Greyhound racing is held at the venue every Friday and Saturday night from 7.30pm and Monday's fortnightly. The biggest event of the year at Wentworth Park is the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg which provides prizemoney of one million dollars across the Easter carnival. The Carnival attracts approximately 25,000 racegoers according to its website. The final night is held annually on Easter Saturday.