Fight On East Perth - Brief History of Perth Oval
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Historic Perth Oval gates - 1998.

East Perth first based themselves at Wellington Square before moving to Perth Oval in 1910, and it remained their home ground up until 2002 although the last game they actually played there was in 1999.

However Perth Oval was more than just a home for the Royals - it has long been a valuable part of the local community.

Perth Oval began life as a paddock that belonged to Lord Mayor William Loton.

`Loton's Paddock` was once host to a soccer game in the form of the first Charity Cup final on Saturday 12 September 1903 when Olympic FC beat Civil Service 2-0 in front of 2000 people.

Soccer's interest in the land saw the then WA British Football Association offered the land in 1905 but they were unable to raise the £2000 required.

It was eventually bought by the Perth City Council in 1910 to accommodate the Australian Rules surge brought on by the gold rush. Mayor Loton sold the paddock to the City of Perth on condition that it remained for recreational use as their house stood behind it and they didn't want their view of the city blocked. (The house still stands - corner Lord & Bulwer Street).

It was then named Loton Park but soon after this was changed to Perth Oval.

The East Perth Football Club moved in and of course had a long history there, but it has also been the home of the Perth and West Perth Football Clubs, the North Perth Cricket Club from 1910 up until 1974/75, the University Cricket Club from 1913-1929, the Loton Park Tennis Club and even a lawn bowls club.

Professional wrestling bouts have even taken place there, and the venue was again used to host soccer when in 1927 the West Australian State Team were thumped 3-11 by Czechoslavakia-Bohemia.

Outdoor movies were screened there from 1911-1921, and in 1929 it was a scene for Western Australia's Centenary celebrations.

1929 Centenary Celebrations. Note the East/West alignment of the oval.

Perth Oval was taken over for national defence in 1943 and was the scene of victory celebrations 2 years later.

Perth Oval also shares the distinction with Fremantle Oval, Bassendean Oval and Claremont Showgrounds in having hosted the 'Big Day Out' music festival (1995).

The magnificent white gates on Bulwer Street were built in 1930. They are 'inter-war Mediterranean style'.

The grandstand was built in 1956 as part of celebrating East Perth's Silver Jubilee. It was named the F.D. Book Stand after Fred  Book who served a record term of 20 years as President of the Club. Fred first took up office at East Perth in 1928 when he was elected treasurer and retired in 1973 after giving a lifetime of dedication and hard work.

Indeed Fred Book potentially saved Perth Oval from extinction when during World War 2 it nearly became an army depot. It was only through his role as a City of Perth Councillor at the time that prevented this happening.

The F.D. Book Stand replaced the original timber grandstand which was moved and rebuilt at Bayswater Oval, then headquarters of the WA Soccer Football Association. Prior to all this the ground ran East to West. After the grandstand and clubrooms were built the layout was altered to run North and South.

In 1967 Perth Oval was considered at the new WAFL League HQ but was rejected with Subiaco Oval getting the nod instead. Many people today still feel this was the wrong decision.

Perth Oval was heritage listed in 1998 as announced by then minister for heritage, the Liberal Party's Graham Kierath, in an interesting spot where he met former communist, union leader, Labor Party man and Mayor of Vincent, the late Jack Marks (then vice-president of the club) and Royals 100 gamer Richard Graham.

Jack Marks, Graham Kierath, Richard Graham.

Side Note: Jack Marks was a club member for 30 years and a medallist in the Royals' elite 25 club. He had frequented Perth Oval "since I was 6". A memorial to him of some kind was supposed to have been put outside Perth Oval but news on that issue seems to have died.

In 1996 Perth Oval became the inaugural home of Perth Glory Soccer Club. Whilest it was only supposed to be a temporary arrangment it would eventuate in a government decision to redevelop Perth Oval as a rectangular sports stadium, despite the so-called heritage listing.

Hence it led to East Perth officially moving to Leederville Oval in 2003, although they hadn't played at Perth Oval since 1999.

Redevelopment of Perth Oval began in 2003.

Part of the development sees some of the land become public park space. It will appropriately be named Loton Park, however it will also be co-named Yoordgoorading to recognise the original Aboriginal owners of the land.

Naming rights will be sold for the new stadium itself.

Also with the redevelopment of Perth Oval, the Town of Vincent will recognize the contributions Aboriginal players have made to the East Perth Football Club and football in WA, by erecting a plaque that will list all the Indigenous players to pull on an East Perth guernsey.

With some great players like Polly Farmer, Ted Kilmurray, Syd Jackson and Larry Kickett there has always been a rich array of talent produced by East Perth.

Three former football greats and East Perth legends - Graham "Polly" Farmer, Ted "Square" Kilmurray and Laurie Kennedy - returned to the place it all began to listen to the town of Vincent's Mayor, Nick Catania announcement and reminisce on some of the glory days.

Graham "Polly" Farmer, Ted "Square" Kilmurray and Laurie Kennedy - 3 legends with East Perth's 3 most recent successes.

Kilmurray a 256 game veteran said he was a little disappointed with the redevelopment.

"You can't live in the past, but there were a lot of great memories"

Farmer, who played 176 games with East Perth before moving across to the VFL said he understood that soccer needed the oval and times had changed. However he said "Aussie Rules is still the supreme sport in Australia"

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