Henson Park: The historic community ground set for a bright future

The GWS Giants will plays two AFLW home games at historic venue Henson Park in 2022. (Photo: GWS Giants)

Henson Park will become one of the newest AFLW venues, with GWS set to play two home games at the historic Sydney ground.

It is one of three grounds that’ll be introduced in season 2022. Trevor Barker Beach Oval in Sandringham and SkyBus Stadium in Frankston are the other two that were announced at the 2022 AFLW fixture announcement today.

Its first game is set for January 30, 2022, with GWS facing the Western Bulldogs in a Sunday twilight match to end Round 4.

The next and final game will be the following Saturday when the Giants will play their second consecutive home game. They’ll be up against a currently understocked St Kilda side.

AFLW General Manager Nicole Livingstone spoke on the decision to play at another community ground, which is traditionally a rugby league venue.

“It’s an inner city venue as well, so it really will bring families and fans in to watch Australian football in Sydney,” Livingstone told media on Thursday

Despite the fact it is a historic venue, not a lot of people, particularly Melburnians, know anything about it. Here’s a look at the history and what will be in its future.

History of Henson Park

Located in the inner west Sydney suburb of Marrickville, Henson Park first opened its doors in 1933. 

The first ever match there was a cricket match between Marrickville and the North Sydney Bears. The Bears won the match, with one Sir Donald Bradman representing North Sydney in that historic match.

The first ever rugby league match at the ground was played nearly three years later in 1936 between Newton Jets and University. The Jets won the game against the now defunct University 20-0.

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In 1938 it was the primary cycling venue for the third ever Empire Games (now known as Commonwealth Games). They had consistent numbers of 40,000 for most days, which is still a record for the highest attendance at the ground.

However, it became a more rugby league-focused venue, with Newton still playing rugby at Henson in the present day. Since 2002 though, it has also been home to Aussie rules team, the Newton Breakaways.

Since then the Breakaways and Henson Park have played a crucial part in the growth of women’s footy in Sydney. The club has also won the most women’s premierships with six, including four consecutive premierships in its first four years.

A bright future ahead

Whilst GWS is going to be the first NSW team to play at the ground, Livingstone added it was Sydney who are looking to make it their home base.

“Henson Park is a wonderful facility, it’s a facility that we look forward to being at not only in 2022 but in years to come,” she said.

And it is an improved facility as well, with the ground undergoing renovations 10 years ago now. However, it has also looked to keep plenty of focus on the past, too. 

The western grandstand, named after King George V, has only had minor upgrades. It boasts one of the largest grass hills in Sydney, spanning from the north-west to the south-east.

And to truly make it a community footy ground, it has a bitumen bank where up to 200 cars can park and watch the game.

It’s exciting times for every Sydney sider, particularly those who live in Marrickville. This season will be just the first of many where the historic Henson will continue to be a ground-breaking venue, and a haven of women’s football.

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