Lavington Sports Ground
|Location||Hamilton Valley, Albury, New South Wales, Australia|
|Owner||City of Albury|
Lavington Sports Ground (formally known as "Lavington Panthers Oval"), is a sports ground located in the suburb Hamilton Valley, which used to be part of the suburb Lavington (hence the name of the ground) on the north-west fringe of Albury, Australia. The capacity of the venue is estimated at around 20,000. The oval is nestled in the side of a hill, with concrete terraces cut into the southern side of the oval below a grass embankment, with the grandstand and changing rooms located on the north-west flank. The venue also incorporates a 4 table cricket wicket, a velodrome for track cycling and two netball courts. The Lavington Panthers Sports Club licensed club is located adjacent to the ground, across Hanna Street.
The venue is the home ground for the Lavington Panthers Football Club in the Ovens & Murray Football League, and usually hosts the Ovens & Murray grand finals, which typically attract crowds of around 15,000. Up until 2006 it often hosted AFL practice matches during the AFL preseason, however due to the inadequacy of the existing ground lighting, for now at least, the AFL prefers to schedule such fixtures in the Riverina area at Narrandera. Although Richmond vs Port Adelaide will be hosted there in the second round of the 2015 Nab Challenge. In 2010, AlburyCity completed a lighting upgrade costing in the order of $500K to bring the lux level to television broadcast standards.
The New South Wales Rugby League had scheduled the City vs Country representative game for Lavington in 2007 but the fixture was shifted to Coffs Harbour, as the existing lighting was deemed unsuitable for television. It did however host the grand final of the pre-season Tooheys Challenge Cup 1994 and 1995. The South Sydney Rabbitohs won their first major trophy since their 1971 premiership win when they shocked two time reigning premiers the Brisbane Broncos 27-26 in the Final of the Tooheys Challenge Cup. In 1995 the Broncos went one better and won the pre-season Tooheys Challenge Cup with a 30-14 win over Cronulla-Sutherland.
The ground finally got to host the City vs Country game in 2011 with Country defeating City 18-12 in front of 8,056 fans.
In summers the venue is used for cricket, with a turf wicket, and in this capacity serves as the home of the Lavington Panthers side in the Cricket Albury-Wodonga Provincial competition. During the 1992 Cricket World Cup, the ground hosted the match between England and Zimbabwe, in which Zimbabwe won in a shock result. It also hosted a Sheffield Shield fixture between NSW and Victoria during the 1989/90 domestic season.
In July 2009, the facility was sold by Penrith Entertainment Group to the Albury City Council for $1.2M. Extensive refurbishments are planned.
In September 2010, Lavington Sportsground hosted the Group Nine Grand Final for the first time in group nine history.
Lavington Sports Ground was the host venue of the 2011 NRL City vs. Country match.
On 9 February 2014, Heart triumphed 2-1 in scorching conditions. Due to the temperature (41°C), the match was postponed by two hours; from 3pm to 5pm. However, there was no significant drop in temperature. Players were ordered off the field on three occasions (15', 30', 66') for drinks breaks. 7,218 were in attendance.
In February 2015, the NRL announced that the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles would play a premiership game at Lavington against the Canberra Raiders in round 5. The match, which took place during Round 5 of the 2015 NRL season saw the Raiders defeat an out of form Manly 29-16 in front of 6,436 fans.