Waverley Park

Waverley Park (originally VFL Park) was an Australian rules football stadium in Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia. For most of its history, its purpose was as a neutral venue and used by all Victorian-based Victorian Football League/Australian Football League clubs. However, during the 1990s it became the home ground of both the Hawthorn and St Kilda football clubs. It ceased to be used for AFL games from the 2000 season, following the opening of Docklands Stadium. It is currently used as a training venue by Hawthorn. The main grandstand and oval are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The seating capacity is now 8,000, down from a peak of 72,000.

Following its cessation as a venue for AFL football, the stadium fell into a state of disrepair, and anticipating complete demolition, the City of Greater Dandenong, on behalf of football patrons in southeast Victoria, moved quickly to nominate the whole of the facility and its grounds for heritage listing. The basis for the nomination is that the stadium was the first major stadium purpose built for Australian rules football, that its construction and ownership by the VFL provided the basis on which the league built its power base and eventual evolution to become the AFL, that it hosted the 1991 AFL Grand Final, that night-time cricket games were first held at the ground, and that the members’ (or K.G. Luke) stand features a mural of football legends by noted artist Harold Freedman. The state-level heritage listing of Waverley Park has been cited by the executive director of Heritage Victoria as the seminal case for an understanding of the cultural heritage significance of 20th-century places.

High praise indeed considering it was rarely loved when alive. It was hard to get to, the train line didn’t quite make it, it was often wet and cold, and lacked the beauty of the MCG. It may well represent the concrete of the 20th Century.

Its last game was Hawthorn versus Sydney won easily by Hawthorn on the 22 August 1999.