Sport Sport Focus The Adelaide Oval, where women count for nought

The Adelaide Oval, where women count for nought

Another stand named after a bloke.
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Notwithstanding the result, the return of football to Adelaide Oval was a glorious moment for all of us who have South Australian blood coursing through our veins.

From my adopted home of Melbourne I watched the hoopla of the first Showdown at Adelaide Oval with an aching to be there. Of course there were blue skies. This was a certified blue-sky occasion, one many of us thought would never happen. Yep, my old hometown was shining and I missed her terribly on Saturday.

The redevelopment is a victory for perseverance, a win for all sports fans in a town hamstrung by tensions between cricket and football since the 1960s.

Ignored: Karen Rolton. Photo: Getty
Ignored: Karen Rolton. Photo: Getty

But I could not shake a nagging, uneasy feeling. I’m not talking about the one I get before every Showdown. This was something quite different.

A few days ago I’d read about Barrie Robran becoming the first football great honoured with a bronze statue at Adelaide Oval. Terrific, I thought. You can’t argue with three Magarey Medals. He’s one of four football icons to be recognised in this way. Russell Ebert, Ken Farmer and Malcolm Blight are the others. Statues have also been commissioned to honour four South Australian cricketers – Darren Lehmann, Jason Gillespie, George Giffen and Clem Hill.

For a state with such a proud record of achievements by women – sporting and otherwise – this is a disgrace.

Max Basheer, the SANFL’s longest-serving president and the man responsible for the building of Football Park, is one of five men with a pavilion named after him in the Eastern Stand. Gavin Wanganeen, Jack Oatey, Fos Williams and Mark Ricciuto are the others. The Chappell Stand recognises brothers Ian, Greg and Trevor.

There’s also the Bob Quinn Gate, adjacent to the Clarrie Grimmett Gate, the William Magarey Room, the Graham Cornes Deck, the Rick Davies Stadium Club Bar, the Neil Kerley Members’ Bar and the Lindsay Head Terrace.

The names Bob Hank and Len Fitzgerald adorn the two bridges that link the Southern and Eastern stands, while John Cahill and Andrew McLeod have a room each in the Southern Stand, a stab pass from the Peter Carey Bar. Are you detecting a trend?

The John Halbert Room is located in the Eastern Stand with a section for the John Platten Bar. And there’s the Leigh Whicker League Room too. The Garry McIntosh Bar is on the ground level of the Eastern Stand.

Do women exist in Adelaide?

Faith Thomas: overlooked. Ian Chappell: honoured. Photo: Getty
Faith Thomas: overlooked. Ian Chappell: honoured. Photo: Getty

Is this the same state that gave women the vote before the others in 1894? (Interestingly, suffragette Mary Lee and other significant women used the ladies room at the Adelaide Oval for meetings in the lead up to the vote.)

But let’s stick with cricket. Where is the recognition of the talented women cricketers who have represented South Australia and our country?

Faith Thomas was the first indigenous woman selected to play any sport for Australia.

For a state with such a proud record of achievements by women – sporting and otherwise – this is a disgrace.

Are you telling me a half a billion-dollar redevelopment could not find one woman worthy of a blade of grass named after her? Bollocks.

Karen Rolton captained Australia! CAPTAINED. She retired as Australia’s highest run-scorer in Test cricket and was named Australian women’s player of the year a record four times. Throw in a test average of 55.66 and 209 not out against England at Headingley and you have a powerful case for recognition – the Rolton stand has a good ring to it.

And here are a few others that the eight men who make up the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority should consider: Lyn “Lefty” Fullston, Joanne Broadbent and Jill Kennare – all trailblazers in the sport of cricket. All thoroughly deserving. What about Faith Thomas, who in 1958 became the first indigenous person selected to play cricket for her country and the first indigenous woman selected to play any sport for Australia?

At the MCG, there are statues of Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland. There’s also an honour board of all VicSpirit representatives alongside the Bushrangers’ honour board.

The SCG Walk of Honour includes Betty Cuthbert, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, Marlene Mathews and Decima Norman.

Women not warranted: Graham Cornes. Photo: Getty
Graham Cornes: Women not warranted. Photo: Getty

South Australian football great Graham Cornes said it would be “tokenism at its most blatant” to honour South Australian women cricketers at Adelaide Oval.

“Many fine women cricketers have played for South Australia and Australia, but even the best female cricketer, cannot compete with our best Test cricketers who will be recognised at the new venue,” he said.

Graham you’re missing the point. This is about equality. This is about inspiring girls to fulfil their dreams.

Graham you’re missing the point. This is about equality. This is about inspiring girls to fulfil their dreams. This is about girls walking through Adelaide Oval and seeing a reflection of themselves on the walls, terraces and honour boards. It’s about a sense of belonging, empowering girls with the belief one day they could also be cast in bronze.

What a wasted opportunity. Our girls deserve better.

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