Fremantle OvalEdit profile
Fremantle Oval is a stadium in the centre of Fremantle, Western Australia. It currently has a capacity of 17,500 with terracing and a members area holding 750. Fremantle Oval was originally used for cricket, but in 1895 hosted its first game of Australian rules football . It is located between the Fremantle Hospital, Fremantle Markets and the Fremantle Prison.
Although the Fremantle Dockers play all AFL home games at Subiaco Oval, they are based at Fremantle Oval and use it for training, administrative offices and sometimes for pre-season matches. South Fremantle Football Club, the Bulldogs, train and play their home WAFL matches here and are one of the few sporting organisations in Western Australia to own their club rooms freehold, rather than on a long-term lease.
In the 1880s the ground was used as a military parade ground for the nearby soldiers barracks located on Henderson Street.
As Australian Rules Football developed in the late 19th century the ground became the base for the Fremantle Football Club and hosted many early WANFL as well as interstate games. Facilities remained relatively basic until 1897 when the Victoria Pavilion was built. The large stately structure provided seating for 500 people as well as club rooms located in the basement.
By 1901 South Fremantle Football Club and East Fremantle Football Club were established as regular cotenants of Fremantle Oval. the oval also hosted Fremantle Cricket Club and a cycling track that was in regular use throughout the year.
East Fremantle Football Club vacated the ground in 1950, moving to new premises, located at Moss Street in East Fremantle.
In 1954 the oval was used for a ceremonial parade as part of Queen Elizabeth II's first visit to Fremantle.
The Cycling Track and Cricket Pitch were removed in the 1960s due to the increasing demands of WANFL football.
The ground remained relatively unchanged until 1968 when the South Fremantle Football Club acquired a portion of land freehold at the hospital end of the ground for the construction of social club, members pavilion and players changerooms.
Further improvements were made to the ground with the growing demands of larger WANFL crowds in the 1960s and 1970s. These included a shelter behind the goals at the prison end of the ground and a large one at the hospital end of the ground named the Doig Pavilion. A three level press box was constructed adjacent to the Victoria Pavilion. The eastern outer area of the ground was also fully terraced with concrete kerbing so as to allow for greater crowd capacity.
The late 1970s witnessed a peak in crowd attendance at Fremantle Oval with over 23,000 people attending the Foundation Day Derby in 1979. Large crowds continued to flock to the ground into the early 1980s with the WAFL proving to be the most popular spectator sport in the State.
In 1984 the ground underwent it's most dramatic structural change with the works related to the Parry Street extension, demolishing the historic Henderson Street and South Terrace entrance gates as well reducing the capacity of the ground on the western side.
In 1987, the entry of the West Coast Eagles into the expanded VFL competition lead to a dramatic decline in WAFL attendances. In 1995 this was compounded by the entry of the Fremantle Dockers into the AFL.
The Fremantle Dockers established a base at the oval and in 1999 constructed a new training facility. This required the demolition of the Doig Pavilion and the leveling of the historic hospital end hill area that had once been one of the most popular positions for the general public to watch football matches from.
The oval continues to host WAFL matches as well as AFL pre season games.
It is also used a venue for conferences, rock concerts (including the Big Day Out) and exhibitions.
23,109, when South Fremantle beat East Fremantle on the 4th June, 1979.