North Hobart Oval
North Hobart Oval is widely regarded as the traditional home of Australian football in Tasmania. Opened in 1921, the ground features four grandstands, a large terrace and undercover area, with a capacity of 10,000. A $1.2 million upgrade was completed in 2020 to improve facilities, while future plans include a new pavilion and social club.
Prior to its development as a sporting oval the site on which North Hobart Oval now occupies had a varied history. From being Hobart Town's original brickfields in 1844, North Hobart Oval became home to convict women awaiting hire as domestic servants who were housed in buildings at the Domain end of the ground. In later years, the buildings were used as an immigration depot and finally an invalid depot, which closed in 1882. Subsequently the area was used as a refuse dump where livestock also grazed.
Construction of the Oval took place in 1921 and by the time the first game was played, the present Ryde Street Grandstand was established. The main grandstand at the Argle Street end was built during 1923 24 ready for use at the interstate carnival in 1924. The inaugural match played on 6th May 1922 was between the Lefroy and New Town Football Clubs. Lefroy won (9.8.62) to New Town (7.13.55) before a crowd of 1,000. The first of three carnivals to be held at the ground took place in August 1924. Victoria won the title and a total of 60,705 fans attended the games. The 1947 carnival saw the ground in a deplorable state. Victoria once again won (this time only by percentage) with the total crowd calculated at 67,271.
On the 9th May 1931, the game between North Hobart and Lefroy was the first officially broadcast TFL match. Ex-Cananore player D C "Dinah" Green commentated the game on radio station 7ZL. It cost the ABC $50 for the exclusive rights. A crowd of 18,387 packed the ground on the 14th June 1952 to witness the first VFL (now AFL) roster game played in Tasmania between Fitzroy (13.12.90) and Melbourne (10.10.70). The next major event was the 1966 Australian Football Championships, which again saw Victoria clinch the title in front of total carnival attendance of 91,347. The State of Origin competition saw Tasmania gain its second victory over Victoria on the the 24th June 1990, Tasmania winning 20.14.134 to Victoria 14.17.101.
Although Australian Rules Football is most commonly associated with the ground, it has hosted many other events including cricket, rugby league, soccer (including Australia v Hungary) and athletics with men's and women's Australian titles being held there. As an athletic track it was much maligned, yet two world records were set on it. Ron Clarke broke Vladimir Kuts (USSR) 5000 metres record on the 16th January 1965, and Betty Cuthbert set a new time for the 220 yard sprint on the 7th March 1960. Other sporting and entertainment events have been held there, but the event that holds the unofficial ground attendance record of 25,000 was the Dr Billy Graham Crusade on the 16th March 1959. Only time will tell what the future holds for the North Hobart Oval but regardless of its fate, it will always hold a special place in the hearts of those of us who have witnesses some of the great battles that have taken place there.
North Hobart Oval Details
North Hobart FC (SFL)