East Melbourne Cricket Ground
|Location||East Melbourne, Victoria|
|East Melbourne Cricket Club
Essendon Football Club (1882–1921)
The ground was opened in 1860 and closed in 1921. It adjoined the Melbourne Cricket Ground and was not far from the Richmond Cricket Ground, all three grounds being sited in the area formerly known as Captain Lonsdale's Cow Paddock, now Yarra Park.
East Melbourne Cricket Club was the most successful member of the Victorian Cricket Association during the 19th Century and early 20th Century, winning more than half of the VCA's Premierships during that period. The club was formed in 1857 as the Abbotsford Cricket Club but they soon changed their name as part of a putsch to use the East Melbourne ground. The team mainly consisted of Scotch College old boys.
|1880–81||Victoria v South Australia||12–13, 15 November 1880||Victoria won by 7 wickets|||
|1882–83||Victoria v South Australia||24, 26–27 March 1883||Victoria won by an innings and 98 runs|||
|1886–87||Smokers v Non-Smokers||17–19, 21 March 1887||Match drawn|||
|1888–89||Victoria v Tasmania||1–5 January 1889||Victoria won by 9 wickets|||
The East Melbourne Cricket Ground was used for Australian rules football games during the winter months. The ground hosted the first-ever interstate representative football match, on 1 July 1879, between Victoria (represented by the VFA) and South Australia. The match was attended by more than 10,000 people. It also hosted the first intercollegiate football match in Melbourne, played on 21 July 1881 between teams from the University of Melbourne colleges Trinity and Ormond.
Tenant football clubs of the ground included:
- East Melbourne Football Club, which used the ground until it disbanded in mid 1882.
- Essendon Football Club. Despite the ground being 6 miles (10 km) away from the suburb of Essendon, the club moved to the ground in 1882 after East Melbourne vacated it, and used it in both the VFA and the VFL until its closure in 1921.
- North Melbourne Football Club, which used the ground during the 1897 VFA season due to upgrading works on its usual home ground, the Arden Street Oval.
- West Melbourne Football Club, which moved to the ground for the 1907 VFA season, and disbanded the following year.
- Melbourne University Football Club, which used it from 1908 to 1910 in the VFL; the club left the ground in 1911 following a dispute with Essendon over rent.
- The VFL held a final in the 1897 finals series and the 1900 Grand Final at the ground. The VFA also played the 1896 premiership playoff at East Melbourne.
- Melbourne City Football Club, which used it during its two years in the VFA, 1912 and 1913; Melbourne City lost all 36 matches it played in those two seasons.
- 30 VFA finals were played at the East Melbourne ground between 1903 and 1921.
As a venue for football, the East Melbourne Cricket Ground had an unusual quirk that the field sloped downhill towards the railway end, but was often affected by a strong wind which blew to the pavilion end.
The largest football crowds seen at the venue were for Victorian Football Association finals matches. An estimated crowd of 25,000 saw the 1907 VFA Final, played between Williamstown and West Melbourne. The record for a VFL match was 18,000, set twice during the 1921 VFL season.
When the East Melbourne Cricket Club lost the use of the ground in 1921, it amalgamated with the Hawthorn Cricket Club to form the Hawthorn-East Melbourne Cricket Club, and moved to Hawthorn's Glenferrie Oval. One of the wooden stands was moved from East Melbourne to Glenferrie Oval where it stood until 1965 when it was replaced by the Dr A.S. Ferguson Stand.
After the Essendon Football Club lost the use of the ground, it moved to the Essendon Recreation Reserve; however, it had initially tried to move to the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve, resulting in a major off-field political struggle between the Essendon Association and North Melbourne Football Clubs, the VFL and the VFA.
The former site of the ground has now been taken over by a housing estate, a feature of which is a semi-circular housing block with a tower obviously designed to look like an ersatz football pavilion. The oval is now a park.
- Santo Caruso, Marc Fiddian and Jim Main, Football Grounds of Melbourne (Melbourne: Pennon Publishing, 2002 ISBN 978-1877029028.
- "Victoria v South Australia, 1880–81". ESPNcricinfo. ESPN Inc. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "Victoria v South Australia, 1882–83". ESPNcricinfo. ESPN Inc. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "Smokers v Non-Smokers, 1886–87". ESPNcricinfo. ESPN Inc. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "Victoria v Tasmania, 1888–89". ESPNcricinfo. ESPN Inc. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- 'Football', The Argus, 21 July 1881, p. 6
- "Football – the Victorian Football League". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 13 April 1897. p. 6.
- "Football – Victorian League – Question of Grounds". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 28 March 1907. p. 4.
- Old Boy (11 October 1920). "Footscray premiers – success of the unbeatable". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. p. 11.
- "Final - Williamstown v. West Melbourne". North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Chronicle. Melbourne, VIC. 4 October 1907. p. 3.
- "Flinders Street Yard – why the cricket ground is needed". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 1 December 1920. p. 11.