Home » Football Park 50 Years – From Go to Whoa – SANFL

Football Park 50 Years – From Go to Whoa – SANFL

West Lakes Boulevard was opened just two days before Football Park’s first game and maps were featured in the Budget and newspapers to make sure the first fans found their way to the ground.

“There were only a few seats in the outer. Half of the grandstand was cordoned off from building works,” Whicker recalled of the Central-North clash.

“They were pioneering days – a lot of people gave freely of their time to get that stadium up and running. There was a lot of pride about that, because it was the home of our football. Football and footballers have enjoyed the benefits of that.

“For many years Football Park and the SANFL didn’t receive one cent of government money – not one cent until more recent years. The stadium was built on the good will (of those pioneers) and our marvellous sponsors.”

Football Park would see another revolution with Kerry Packer’s World Series cricket played at the venue, featuring a pair of ‘Super Tests’ and four 50-over one-dayers between 1977 and ’79.

After protracted negotiations with the SA State Government and the local council, and opposition from residents leading to a Royal Commission, the SANFL started building the ground’s four light towers in late 1983, the lights switched on in ’84. This time West Torrens and Woodville did get the honour of playing in the historic clash, an Escort Cup game on March 2.

The stadium hosted International Rules games between Australia and Ireland, there were big soccer games including the Socceroos v Juventus and it was used for epic rock concerts featuring Beach Boys, KISS, Rolling Stones, Abba, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Dire Straits, Electric Light Orchestra, U2, Elton John, Robbie Williams and Bon Jovi, with the final concert being One Direction in February 2015.

When you drive down West Lakes Boulevard these days, surrounded by housing developments and shops and near the Adelaide Crows’ offices and training ground, it’s hard to believe this was where 80,000 SA footy fans in 1976 had packed together to see a Rick Davies-inspired Sturt stun Port Adelaide in a grand final still talked about five decades later.