24 January 2018

SFS celebrates 30-year anniversary

IT stood as a $68 million jewel in Sydney’s sporting crown. Since opening in 1988, the Sydney Football Stadium has become an iconic part of our great city.

But the stadium’s sporting tradition can be traced back to a distant past, with its footprint swallowing up the Sydney Sports Ground and SCG No.2.

The links with the Roosters can be rewound to 1911, when Herbert ‘Dally’ Messenger was the best player in rugby league. It was the remarkable Dally who kicked five goals when Eastern Suburbs defeated North Sydney 22-9 in their first game at the Sydney Sports Ground all those years ago.

They played their last game at the old Sports Ground in 1986, again against the Bears of North Sydney, winning 21-14. Across those 75 years, the Tri-Colours created records that still stand. In 1936 and ’37 they went undefeated across two seasons – the only team to achieve that feat.

In their 100th game at the Sports Ground, the rampant Roosters crushed the Bulldogs 87-7. Dave Brown, ‘The Bradman of League’ scored five tries and 15 goals for a person tally of 45 points.

The Sports Ground was first used as a speedway track in 1907. Solo and sidecar motorbikes and speed cars raced at the venue until the 1950s. The Legendary Jack Brabham even cut his teeth on the quarter-mile track.

Since January 24, 1988, when the Sydney Football Stadium was officially opened, the tradition of big events and sporting history has continued. The 2000 Olympics came to Moore Park, with the women’s gold medal football match at the venue.

In 2006, Anthony Mundine and Danny Green fought in front of 30,000 people in what was the biggest grossing fight between two Australian boxers.

Football royalty Diego Maradona and Alessandro Del Piero have graced our turf. Superstars Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Taylor Swift and U2 have rocked the house.

The Sydney Roosters, NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC have all brought championships to Allianz Stadium. The Kangaroos, Wallabies and Socceroos have all flown the national flag with pride.

The vision to give Sydney a purpose-built rectangular stadium in the city’s greatest sporting precinct has been realised.

It was a gift to the city paid in part by SCG members. The sporting roots at Moore Park, and the Football Stadium, are as deep and strong as the old fig trees that stand outside.

They have seen Dally Messenger, Dave Brown, Artie Beetson and Freddie Fittler. They have seen Origin heartbreak and Aussie triumphs. They have seen George Gregan become a Bledisloe legend and the new bread of Wallabies work their way up the ranks. They have seen Dwight Yorke lead a football revolution and Del Piero steal our heart.

Thousands of events have been hosted, millions of fans have passed through the turnstiles and countless of memories have been made.

The old Sports Ground became the Sydney Football Stadium then Allianz Stadium and soon to be Allianz Stadium Mark II.

Photo: John Kosmina, Mario Fenech, Wayne Pearce, Charlie Yankos, Les Davidson and Gary Wurth celebrate the opening of the venue in 1988.

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