Manuka Oval is one of the oldest and most historic sports venues in Australia with a history dating back to the start of the 20th century. Originally, the area was a park used for sports and recreation known as Manuka Circle Park after the Manuka suburb the park was located in the Australian capital of Canberra. Over the history of the venue, a range of different sports has been hosted at local, national, and international levels. In the middle of the 20th-century, the stadium became known for hosting cricket and rugby internationals which put the venue on the map as a top sporting venue. Recently, the development of Sydney’s Olympic venues has seen the 16,000 capacity Manuka Oval overtaken as a regular sports venue, but the Greater Western Sydney Giants Australian Rules Football team still plays four games per AFL season at the venue.
Manuka Oval History
The location of the Manuka Oval is the site of an original park used by the people of Griffith in the suburbs of Sydney for sports and fun in the early 20th-century before a fence was constructed to encircle the park. Originally used for rugby and Australian Rules Football, the first cricket pitch was laid in 1930 and this became the focus of the arena for several years.
Over the course of its lifespan, the Manuka Oval has hosted several international cricket matches with the Prime Minister’s XI playing annual games against touring international team since 1951. Cricket has been a major sport at the Manuka Oval for decades with the first international cricket match played in 1992 when the Manuka Oval was a host stadium for the Cricket World Cup.
Historic Manuka Oval Stands
The Manuka Oval is known for its history which is reflected in the naming of the stands around the arena now best known as the home venue of the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL franchise. Before the overhaul of the stadium in 2011, the ground had already named its stands after some of the best-known figures who had an influence on the cricketing history of the Oval. The main stand at the Oval has been known as the Bradman Pavilion since 1962 with two other stands named after Australian Prime Ministers Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke who played key roles in bringing top sporting events to the Australian capital.
The Return of AFL to Manuka Oval
The Manuka Oval was originally home to the Manuka Football Club in its various guises but has recently seen the return of top-level AFL games with the arrival of the Greater Western Sydney Giants to the stadium. The Giants now play three regular-season games at the Oval and a single preseason game as part of a deal with the Government of Canberra to bring more top-level sports to the capital of Australia. Established in 2009, the Orange-clad GWS Giants have been developing since their establishment to reach the Finals in the last two seasons as their experience and professionalism grows.