Article 006: Brookvale Oval

In the late nineteenth century, if you traveled along the track later to be known as Pittwater Road, you would pass a number of wretched farms growing corn and pumpkins. This area was originally known as Greendale but was later changed to Brookvale after the name of the home built by the original grantee of the land, William Francis Parker. It was in this area that Dan Farrell built his stone house called "Inverness" which was later to become Manly Leagues Club.

A block of nearby land called Farrell's Paddocks was sometimes used for local community events. This land was originally granted to William Redman in 1857. The original parcel was subsequently subdivided into smaller lots and sold.



Brookvale Oval

The change from agricultural use to public recreation did not occur until after the turn of the century following a period of lobbying by local residents for the Government to give the community a park.

Farrell’s Paddock was the site of a banquet in 1910 to mark the extension of the tramway from Manly to the village of Brookvale. In the following year, the State Government reached agreement with Warringah Shire Council to acquire land for a park near the Shire’s Offices. The acquired land plus a smaller parcel of land bought from Miss Jane Malcolm (later known as Jane Try) from Brookvale, was officially opened in 1911 as Brookvale Park..

The Park was transformed into a showground within the first decade. In 1921, the Brookvale Show was established with the formation of the Warringah Agricultural, Horticultural, Amateur Sports and Athletic Association. Between 1919 and 1928 children from Brookvale School planted trees to commemorate Arbor Day and it was the setting for school sports days and Empire Day picnics.

Over fifty annual shows were held at Brookvale Park before the show was moved to St. Ives Showground. Trotting and ring events were features of early shows at Brookvale. The trotting track occupied a substantial area of the Park with lighting of the ring for night entertainment. Substantial improvements were later made to form a sporting oval by the addition of stands. Pavilions were constructed along Alfred Road to house show exhibits. Outside of the annual show period these pavilions were used for local church services and meeting rooms for the local community. They were also used by local bands as a place to practice.

During the Second World War Brookvale Park was utilised by the Defence Force for training purposes. The Park has been used extensively over many years for festivals and sporting events.

While Manly Council favoured rugby union and would not permit league to played at Manly Oval, Warringah Council was more sympathetic to the rugby league cause and encouraged the playing of rugby league matches at Brookvale Park. Thus when Manly was granted first grade status in 1947, its first match in the big league was a home game at Brookvale Oval against Western Suburbs. Manly played well against more fancied opponents in that historic first match at Brookvale scoring three tries to one but narrowly losing the match 15 - 13 courtesy of a string of scrum penalties from referee Aub Oxford.

When I first started attending to matches there in the late fifties it was still an "oval" with a trotting track for the Brookvale Show. There was a tiny old wooden grandstand and the ground was stretching to fit in 8,000. There have been many changes over the years. The squaring off of the ground making it a true rugby league ground; increasing the size of the Hill; and the building of the Jane Try, Southern and Ken Arthurson Stands. But "Brookie" has still managed to retain its traditional atmosphere.

But Brookie is now in poor condition and not up to NRL standards. The Federal and NSW Governments have agreed to a $20million upgrade to Bookvale Oval, which will now remain the Sea Eagles home ground.

Sources:
Smith 1991
SBS
AusStadiums.com