Footy Park: farewell or good riddance?


The last grandstand at Football Park hit the deck this week. All that remains of the home of South Australian footy for 40 or so seasons now is a training surface and the Crows’ buildings. I’m not really sure how to feel.


Farewell, Footy Park. I miss your gentle and not so gentle sea breezes, your well-drained soil, your carpark that had plenty of room for a kick and a snag. I miss the rabid fans of a certain age with their lovingly maintained crocheted rugs in team colours, naturally. I miss Super Sid telling me where to go.


Good riddance, Footy Park. I don’t miss your greying concrete, your metal seats that froze or burnt the posterior depending on the weather. Your “no alcohol past this point” painted on the rise towards the concourse, preventing the simultaneous enjoyment of footy and beer. I don’t miss the trek out to one corner of metropolitan Adelaide, convenient for very few, the traffic banking before you even got to West Lakes Boulevard.



Farewell, Footy Park. I miss the ‘Kick a Vic’ banner, the Mitani Chicken Salt hoarding behind the southern goal. I miss Andrew McLeod’s vision, Tony Modra’s speccies. Heck, Stephen Rowe’s speccy when the ’97 Grand Final was in the bag. I miss Craig Balme and Tim Evans squaring up during the national anthem, Michael Aish’s run down the wing, Jerry D’Antiochia’s, James Aish’s. I miss standing on the oval as the last SANFL premiership at the ground was awarded to my team.


Good riddance, Footy Park. I don’t miss sitting in the rain or Port’s tarps, or their premierships, or Centrals’ (after the first few, anyway). I don’t miss the dull murmur of the crowd as the home team falls behind, the crowds filing out to avoid the carpark bottleneck. I don’t miss wading through air thick with cigarette smoke at every entrance, nor Graham Cornes visiting a gleeful Port Adelaide changeroom as they celebrate a premiership, having torn SA footy apart.



Too much good and bad stuff has happened at Footy Park for it not to leave a trace – packed 1970s grand finals, incredible 1980’s State of Origin matches, the Crows in the ‘90s when they provided a State of Origin game every single week. As it goes, so too some things we won’t get back. They were never going to last, anyway. Nothing does.


Adelaide Oval is superior in almost every way, perhaps only to be faulted on the price of a feed and some libation. The location is better, so is the viewing, the stadium is louder but more intimate. It has made the SANFL, SACA, Crows and Power much more financially secure and reinvigorated parts of the CBD. It is as beautiful as a concrete behemoth can be and still has grass, and the scoreboard and the Moreton Bay figs. It has a beating heart.


So farewell, Footy Park… and bloody good riddance!


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About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    1993: 13 goals from Modra v Richmond. As immortalised by a limited edition t-shirt

  2. Rulebook says

    I personally loved footy park especially the 75,82,84,97,12,and 13 Sanfl grand finals ( made to go on a school camp in 78 grrrrrr ) but it was the whole match day experience the car park barbecues and post mortems were sensational.I no I am in the minority but that’s where I prefer it over Ad oval more character for mine yes viewing is better at Ad oval and the 2014 Sanfl gf is probably my favorite ever day at the footy.The Crows 1st game against the hawks the 97 finals win against the cats and the numerous state games beating the big v are all other great memories of footy park
    ( shared on Sanfl face book pages will hopefully help a bit Dave thank you )

  3. Dave Brown says

    Comment from @MJ_Leaver on twitter:

    Games with my mates when we’d sneak in via passouts (a friend would tell us what the colour was), Gary Ablett Snr taking a screamer in front of us at an Origin game. Banging on the metal signs when someone went for goal.

    Nigel Smart in his last game making a run from the backline to the forward to kick a goal. The loud Weeeed whenever Wayne touched the ball. Graham Johncock charging Dean Brogan with no fear. The old bloke next to us whose thermos was always a hot toddy.

    My grandad (who I miss so much), rolling his eyes at the guy who sat behind us, who responded to every word on the radio out loud, often repeating it verbatim, and would whisper to me “Wally May around the ground at it again”.

  4. Dave, loved your article. Personally I loved Footy Park. That was the name I always referred to it as. Also it was much easily accessible to me and David (son) than Adelaide. Like Rulebook I loved all the Redlegs premierships played there. The only game I really disliked there was, of course, that dreaded ’81 Prelim Final. Looking at what remains of the place now I can’t believe the money wasted there. It only seems yesterday when they were adding to the stands, seating etc not to mention the special bus lanes.
    Pity they couldn’t used part of it for baseball., soccer or some such – even rock concerts, feats or even the Fringe. Can hardly wait for the footy to start – the cricket this season has mostly been depressing.

  5. Waddya mean “no rock concerts” Fisho. I saw Bob Dylan there in 1980 on his Street Legal tour. Nothing played to the same melody or tempo as the albums. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands as a rocker. Maggies Farm as a slow waltz. What the?
    Thankfully the sea “breeze” drifted the sound away toward Birkinhead. Saved me a lifetime of wasting money on His Bobness’ obscure concerts so I could focus on the magnificent records.
    I have early memories of Footy Park in the 70’s when the outer was all concrete steps with no stands and only a few rows of aluminium benches. Great place to stand with your mates, drink beer and abuse oppositions/umpires. Then I turned 25 and discovered it was the greatest shitheap in the AFL.
    30 degree days with soap on a rope footy as soon as the evening dew settled. What the???

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Great piece Dave. RIP Adelaide’s Waverley Park.
    Never went there. My impressions from watching on the TV were of how neatly and how straight the rows
    of fans were compared to everywhere else. And of Modra.
    Did you ever get to the cricket there, either a World Series Cricket match or one of the state one-dayers?

  7. E.regnans says

    Like Luke – I never went there.
    Best memory of Footy Park?
    2002 Qualifying Final.
    When unheralded Collingwood travelled there to take on clearly top-placed Port.
    It remains the only time I’ve stayed for more than one drink at Young & Jackson’s Hotel. The energy in that place could have powered a small village. Wild.

  8. DBalassone says

    I’ll back up E.Regnans. Very fond memories of this ground as the Pies turned it into a home away from home – I think we won 8 in a row there at one stage, and have the rare distinction of winning more games than we lost there overall. Definitely the most wins there of all the non-SA sides.

    Pre AFL-era my memories of the ground are those dewy mid-week state of origins games, watching the Vics lose by less than a kick time and time again, especially the one where Mark Naley kicked 3 or 4 goals in a quarter, destroying the Vics with his sheer pace.

  9. Anthony Whellum says

    The more I think about Footy Park my memories of going to the bar and not leaving for the whole game, came flooding back

  10. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the read and comments. Confirms that one’s relationship with a footy ground is very personal and about a lot more than the hotness of the chips.

    It would not surprise you to learn Swish that I have that design on a red tri blend t-shirt.

    I’m sure my perspective on Footy Park would be somewhat different, Rulebook, if I didn’t live in the north eastern suburbs. The footy “express” from TTP that went into town before going out to West Lakes was just painful. That said it took me an hour to drive home from the 2013 GF thanks to the construction of the superway at the grand junction/south road intersection.

    I imagine the maintenance of all that infrastructure is an absolute money pit, Fisho. They certainly couldn’t turn down a $93 million asset present from the SA taxpayer as well as the opportunity to sell off all that prime residential land.

    It certainly got slippery at night, PB. It appears they’ve fixed that problem at Adelaide Oval.

    No, never saw cricket there, Luke. Was living in the ACT then.

    Collingwood had a mystifyingly good record there ER & DB. Perhaps the similarity of dimensions between Footy and Vic Parks (Footy Park is 1.5m longer and 3.5m wider)? Given the demographics, SA will never be able to compile a SoO team of comparable quality to those in the ’80s and early ’90s.

  11. Peter, I meant that if footy park was left they could stage rock concerts there now just like they used to. Now they can’t. I loved it when Abba sang there to name but 1 concert. to me footy park was brilliant I shall never forget it or forgive them that tore it done.

  12. Great valediction Dave. I guess like all in life context is king. Some of my fondest footballing memories have occured at Kapunda, Glenelg and Buckleboo (as both a player and a spectator) where the grounds and facilities were irrelevant.

    When we had Footy Park it was all we really knew. And we put up with it and I certainly loved going there for State of Origin, SANFL and Crows games. I was in the right spot to see to see Tony Hall’s goal in the 1992 SoO, along with probably 100,000 others (see Libba’s point in the ’97 prelim.) and it was great.

    Do I miss it? Not a chance? Footy in the city has been excellent for Adelaide. Can’t believe we went without this for decades.

  13. Annalise Scott says

    My favourite Footy Park moment was when Scott Hodges defeated Norwood in the 1996 SANFL preliminary final

  14. The fact that I got on the turf twice holding a Bulldogs Banner is memorable, the fact that we were booed off the ground by the members the first time not so.

  15. Dave Brown says

    I don’t think you were the only one Anthony. Also remember the unique bar near (at least) one of the entrances once it became a smoke free venue where those outside the ground having a smoke could also get a beer.

    In firm agreement, Mickey.

    It was certainly a great moment at Footy Park, Annalise, and only one of us would say so pejoratively.

    Just the members, Mick? Was not the friendliest of venues for visiting fans by all reports. Takes some footy goers some time to get used to the idea of hospitality for visitors. But in the context of 40 years ago WA fans greeting interstate teams with weapons, hopefully we are improving.

  16. Tim O'Callaghan says

    I Don’t care what anyone says.. I loved Footy Park. Always did. And could never understand what was supposed to be wrong with the place. Great footy was always played there because it had an exceptionally high standard turf. Players were always able to execute a high level of skill there.
    There are too many great games to mention, so I’ll just mention one amazing comeback by Port Adelaide when they won a game against North Melbourne in 2012 when they were about 6 goals down with about 5 minutes to go. There were about 13,000 there but they made the noise of 50,00 that day.
    We knew then that we were going to Adelaide Oval, which has been rebuilt from a much loved, picturesque cricket friendly stadium which was admired around the cricket world but still under utilised, to a modern, dynamic, brilliant stadium today.
    But that never convinced me of the so called problems at Footy Park. I was always comfortable there because it was conducive to attractive footy.
    Of the best goals I ever saw, there were 2 that will always stick with me so I can’t split them. First one was Woodville’s Paul Harradine against Port in 1983 when he took the tap out from a centre bounce and took about 2 steps to kick an absolute bomb from some 80 metres out. Second was Angus Monfries for Port in an incredible Showdown in 2013 which would’ve made Shane Warne proud!

    It was always Footy Park to me. Nothing else.

  17. Rulebook says Paul Harradine’s incredible goal

  18. G’day Tim

    I appreciate your argument that going in to Adelaide Oval was a positive move and that it is not an argument for how poor Footy Park was. That makes complete logical sense to me.

    I have only ever lived for one year in Adelaide – 1985. The SANFL was obviously still huge. Having come from Queensland where I really only saw VFL footy and local Brisbane QAFL footy, what struck me about SANFL was how it had its own style/flavour/nature. It was highly-skilled and more open – yet there were moments of outrageous whatever-it-takes brutality. Games at Footy Park seemed to be of the highest quality – because, as you say, the surface and I’d add because of the sheer size of the ground. It was a beautiful autumn from memory which helped. It was a wet winter – but still good footy. Some of the players who comment on Rulebook’s pieces were in their prime – providing even more SA flavour.

    I found the dichotomous realities of SANFL footy replicated in the ammos. Games against old scholars clubs played on manicured santa anna grounds with quaint Edwardian grandstands were skilful and pleasant affairs. When observing games played in the quarter to the north and west of Gepps Cross I suddenly understood where Dante had found his inspiration.

    But back to the question, I reckon I attended about 15 matches in total at Footy Park over the years, mainly involving the Crows and Port. I didn’t mind it as a ground although you could feel a long way from the action, especially in the slanting winter sun. It could be freezing on those seats and in those shadows (let alone at night). And getting to and from was tricky.

    I did like the siren. First time I heard it I expected the nose of The Ghan’s engine to come pushing through the curator’s gate. That, I thought, was a nice South Australian touch.


  19. Also saw Dire Straits there in 1985. With about 50,000 others.

  20. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great work Dave.
    Never been, but always felt confident when the Pies played at Footy Park. 2002 Qualifying versus Port, 2008 Elimination and Chris Tarrant’s goal after the siren in 2003 stand out as happy Magpie memories from the venue.

  21. Daryl Schramm says

    Definitely a farewell for me Browney. Aside from the matches seen over the years it was like a second home for 30 plus years with my umpiring involvement. Interesting that AO is now the focus for attending matches but both the crows and the umpires are looking for a new permanent home base. I have been out of it for two years now (taken up golf) but the current arrangements for sanfull umpires at south parklands is a disgrace. Keep up the great work.

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