Cumberland Council unveils a new Cumberland Oval for Parramatta Two Blues

Could a new Cumberland Oval could rise from the dead?

That’s the hope of Cumberland Council administrator Viv May in his final weeks in the role, ahead of next month’s local government election.

He has revealed the council’s ambitious plan for Granville Park to rename it Cumberland Oval. The council hopes to transform the outdated structure along Montrose Avenue into a new, state-of-the art pavilion including major upgrades to the playing fields.

Cumberland Oval is a venue not new to Parramatta.

It was the main sporting venue for the Parramatta district from the mid 19th Century until 1982. It was originally a venue for horse-racing, cricket and athletics, rugby union and then rugby league.

It was the home ground of the Parramatta Eels until it was burnt down by overjoyous fans on the night the club claimed its first premiership in 1981. Today, it’s the new Western Sydney Stadium, currently under construction.

To recognise the new local government,  Mr May has asked the General Manager to liaise with the appropriate authorities to have Granville Park renamed Cumberland Oval.

The morning after: The old Cumberland Oval in Parramatta after it was burnt down in September 1981.

The morning after: The old Cumberland Oval in Parramatta after it was burnt down in September 1981.

Mr May was disappointed that he isn’t able to approve the $9 million project prior to the caretaker period a month out of the September election.

“I am not in the practice of raising community expectation with financial fantasy but I had to wait for the Council’s resource plan, which was approved at the last meeting. The plan clearly shows the project is affordable,” Mr May said.

Flashback: The Parramatta Eels in action at the old Cumberland Oval in the 1970s.

Flashback: The Parramatta Eels in action at the old Cumberland Oval in the 1970s.

The council has released early concept work, which shows a modern facility boasting ample elevated seating for a better crowd experience, four change rooms for male and female athletes, strength and conditioning gym and separate rooms for time keepers and referees. 

“Western Sydney routinely produces world class athletes. Unfortunately the stadiums and grounds they train on and compete on are rarely of the same calibre,” Mr May said.

“There are too many past their use by date and women’s participation in organised sport has been neglected. Council has commenced an audit of what it has, but also, more importantly, what it needs. It will be up to the incoming councillors to set the priority. Hopefully the days of its not what you know but who you know are gone.”

The ground is currently home to the Parramatta Two Blues rugby union club.

“Our current one just isn’t up to scratch for a premier level club,” Two Blues general manager Craig Morgan said. 

“Our existing facilities make it hard for us to attract and retain players. The Shute Shield is televised on 7TWO but we lose out on potential sponsorship and promotional opportunities because the producers won’t film our home games. A great facility is not only good for us. It will lift the reputation of the whole area. At the moment when we host a visiting club, our facilities don’t reflect well on us or our local community.”