Aerial view from the north east
|Location||Marrickville, New South Wales|
|Owner||Inner West Council|
|Operator||Inner West Council|
| Newtown (NSWRL) (1937-1983) |
Newtown (NSWRL) (1990-present)
Henson Park is a multi purpose sports ground in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia.
It was established in 1933 on the site of Daley's brick pit, Thomas Daley operated the Standsure Brick Company from 1886 to 1914. The brickworks occupied 9 acres (3.6 ha) and employed approximately 60 people. When the brickworks closed the pits filled with rain and ground water. The largest waterhole was known as "The Blue Hole"and was 40 to 80 feet in places (12.2 to 24.4 metres). Marrickville Council purchased the site in 1923 as it was a serious danger. Unfortunately nine young boys drowned in the old water hole. In 1932 a grant was received to level the ground and work commenced as part of the Unemployment Relief Scheme.
The oval is set within a shallow hollow, formed by the upper edges of the former brickpit. This is the only one of the many parks formed on the sites of former brickpits which has retained evidence of its former use in its shape.
Henson Park was named after William Henson, who was Mayor of Marrickville in 1902, 1906 to 1908 and his son Alfred Henson, who was an Alderman of Marrickville Council from 1922 to 1931.
It was officially opened on 2 September 1933 with a cricket match between a representative Marrickville Eleven team and a North Sydney District team, which included Sir Don Bradman. The Mayor of Marrickville, Alderman Rushton, bowled the first ball, and North Sydney won the match.
Cricket may have been the first sport played on Henson Park but the park is better known as a rugby league field. It is the home ground of Newtown Jets Rugby League Club, which is one of the founding rugby league clubs. Newtown still has a team in the New South Wales Cup. The first premiership game of Rugby League was played on 1 April 1936, when Newtown defeated University 20-0.
Apart from football, the ground has had a long association with cycling. It was the principal cycling venue for the 1938 British Empire Games, as well as the venue for the games closing ceremony. The Sydney Morning Herald (14/2/1938) reported the awesome scene of athletes and officials from all the competing nations standing in ordered lines under their country's banner on Henson Park. During the games crowds regularly exceeded 40 000.
The velodrome surrounding the playing field was removed during the late 1970s and replaced by a grass running track used for local school athletics carnivals.
The Henson Park gates on the Centennial Street entrance were named as the "Charlie Meader Memorial Gates" in 2001 as a dedication to the memory and the recognition of Mr Meader's work as caretaker/groundskeeper of Henson Park for many years. Mr Meader joined Marrickville Council at the age of 16, and continued working there for another 53 years and was the longest serving council employee. Mr Meader was also the son of a former employee of the brick pit.
Jack Chaseling was one of the greatest of all Newtown Rugby League officials. He worked tirelessly for 32 years for the club. He was a delegate for NSWRL and also served on many sub-committees with NSWRL. He was manager for the 1935 Australian Kangaroos tour of New Zealand. Marrickville Council acknowledged his work by naming the Sydenham Road entrance "Jack Chaseling Drive".
Henson Park has changed little since it was first opened.
A $920,000 Henson Park upgrade was funded by the Australian Government Community Infrastructure Grants program. And was announced prior to the 2010 federal election to upgrade facilities in the Park.
Since 1937, the ground has been primarily known as the home of the Newtown Rugby League Football Club nicknamed "The Bluebags", today known as the Newtown Jets. The Jets played in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership, a forerunner to the National Rugby League, until 1983 when they were dropped from the competition for financial reasons. However the club was re-established as a senior club in 1990 and returned to play at the ground. The Jets compete in the NSW Cup and were the feeder team for the NRL side the Sydney Roosters until the end of the 2014 season after the Roosters announced they were ending a nine-year relationship with the club.
In 2015, Newtown signed a contract to become Cronulla-Sutherland's feeder side with the deal finishing at the end of the 2023 season.
In 2019, Henson Park hosted a Magic Round which consisted of 3 Canterbury Cup NSW games played at the ground on the same day in Round 10 of the 2019 season.
Henson Park is also used occasionally for competition matches in soccer and Australian rules football. It hosts several matches per season in the Sydney AFL competition, including the finals and hosted games from the 2008 AFL Under 18 Championships and the Community Cup. The Argentine Rugby Union side used Henson Park as a training venue during the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The Newtown Jets are an Australian rugby league football club based in Newtown, a suburb of Sydney's inner west. They currently compete in the Canterbury Cup NSW competition, having left the top grade after the 1983 NSWRFL season. The Jets' home ground is Henson Park, and their team colours are blue and white.
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