Twice this past week I’ve found myself at Leichhardt oval for Sydney FC games and my god does it suck as a sports field in every way. It not a good venue for a NPL 1 team games let alone an A-League Men’s or Womens game. I get that there’s some history at the ground for Rugby League, but seriously that place is horrible for a sporting experience in every way.
Let’s start with the biggest issue with the ground, Accessibility. On Sunday it was the venue for Sydney FC v the Mariners, a game that does generally bring a decent sized crowd, especially now that the Mariners are playing great football and winning games again. So, to switch this game or schedule it to be at a ground that getting to is near impossible is a huge miss from the organisers at Sydney FC and the A-Leagues.
Since the Light Rail was out of commission and will be for some time now, I decided to drive to the game. What a huge mistake that was. Arriving 1 hour before kick off we still had to park 1.4 km away from the ground. And if anyone in the Sydney area knew the weather on Sunday it was F*****g hot, so the walk was unenjoyable to say the least. So, parking around this ground is awful. There is a bout maybe 120 spots directly outside the ground for the Aquatic centre/ stadium but other than that, cars a spewed around every street in the Leichardt area. 6855 people had to park in streets, main roads and probably in Illegal spots, just to attend this game. But what was pleasing for me was to see a lot more Sydney FC fans there than at Kogarah, even though Kogarah is slightly easier to get to.
The next issue with this horrible stadium is covered areas. On a day like Sunday, there was a major need for shade. Middle of the day game basically, meaning the temperature would be at its hottest, to only have one real covered area and the rest you have to rely on the angle of the sun over the trees, is ridiculous. Moving forward, organisers need to look at the times games kick off at Leichhardt and only make them night games. If, unfortunately, games need to be played at Leichardt Oval, they need to be Night games with Kick off no earlier than 7:30pm.
Now, lets talk about that Hill. Why do we still have stadiums that have a Hill zone? This is 2022, surely, we can do away with hills in stadiums. Leichhardt, Brookvale, Kogarah, Win Stadium, all the grounds need a massive upgrade to remove the Hill, especially on the side of the ground. Behind the goals like at Campbelltown and Shark Park is ok….I guess, but to have such a major part of the ground, particularly for a broadcast is ridiculous. Its time to put some seats in that section, not only to make a bit of extra money on matchday revenue but also to just make it a slightly better matchday experience. Although at Leichhardt before you’ve even gotten into the ground the experience is pretty much ruined anyway. But seriously, another stand on the eastern side would go along way to making it slightly more bearable, although there is no way of fixing the Parking problem.
I know a lot of people have good feelings about Leichhardt Oval, it’s been the home of so many legendary Rugby League players, but in a modern-day world were population growth is huge, maybe its time to bring it down, build a shit tonne of Units on the land (as there doing in the UK with even more prestigious grounds). The upkeep on these stadiums must be ridiculous, and for what. A few West Tigers Games and the odd Sydney FC Womens or Men’s games. Sure, it may host some Youth and Sunday League Grand finals, but even on those days I imagine its just a nightmare to be around that area. Its time to move on, and for Sydney FC , with the new Sydney Football Stadium opening up next season, a return to our traditional home ground, the West Tigers don’t play many games there anymore, its time to move on from Leichhardt Oval.
Although in saying all this, ill be back there on the 19th of February for our “Home” game against the Phoenix, again at the stupid time of 5pm Kick off in Summer. Organisers clearly don’t have a clue.