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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Northern Spirit FC

Friday, January 15th, 1999
Northern Spirit 4 Marconi Fairfield 0
National Soccer League
North Sydney Oval, Sydney, New South Wales

Tueday, January 26th, 1999
Northern Spirit 1 Perth Glory 0
National Soccer League
North Sydney Oval, Sydney, New South Wales

Northern Spirit FCIn early 1999, and at great expense to my then employers, I was dispatched not once but twice down under for tours of the companies offices in the Antipodes. I spent six weeks in total split 50/50 between Sydney in Oz and Auckland in New Zealand’s North Island. Some pretty memorable places were visited, and great experiences were had, during time off and if I’d bothered to take a camera with me (quite unbelievably I didn’t) I’d probably bore you now with loads of pictures of wonderfully exotic places.

As it is you’ll have to make do with scans of two match programme covers, both from games played – and attended by yours truly – by the now defunct Northern Spirit at the North Sydney Oval. This was the Spirit’s second year in the National Soccer League having come into existence in 1998 partly as a result of the success enjoyed by the opposition in the second of those two matches – Perth Glory.

Until the late 1990’s most Aussie clubs owed their existence to support from immigrant communities in Australia’s main population centres, Sydney Olympic with its links to the Greek community in New South Wales being one example. But the Perth club had successfully tapped into a growing interest in Soccer from mainstream sports fan’s down under and the Northern Spirit’s owner’s hoped to do likewise.

Northern Spirit FCAnd for a while it worked. On the back of a great first season, in which they reached the play-off’s, the side regularly enjoyed crowds of 15 – 16,000 and set a national record attendance of 18,985 for a regular season game, a record that stood until 2005.

However, the club never bettered its debut season, league positions faltered in subsequent years, and with dwindling crowds came dwindling revenues and the Spirit eventually folded in 2004. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin was a brief period of ownership by SPL side Glasgow Rangers.

Attending a game of football at the North Sydney Oval is somewhat akin to watching a match on a village green. Albeit with stands on two sides. The NS Oval, as it’s name suggests, is traditionally a cricket venue – although rugby, Australian Rules football, and American Football have all been played there – first seeing leather-on-willow action back in 1867.

Overhung at it’s northern end by fig trees and with a large grass bank along the south to south-east boundary for picnicker’s the 20,000 capacity venue is a real gem. Getting there from central Sydney is no chore either with travel by train or road both taking you over the awesome Sydney Harbour Bridge which offer’s equally awesome views out over the harbour itself to the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Next time I’ll most certainly take a camera.

posted by chevblue at 7:24 pm






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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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(Alkmaarder Hout)

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(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

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Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
(Idrottspark)

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(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF
(Strandvallen)

Trelleborgs FF
(Vangavallen)

IFK Goteborg
(Ullevi)

USA

Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures
(Odeum)

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)