A history of football at the Sydney Cricket Ground

It’s an arena most famous for the bat and ball but this weekend the Hyundai A-League is set for a moment in the sun at one of Australia’s famous sporting grounds.

That’s because Sydney FC are hosting four home fixtures at the Sydney Cricket Ground this season – and it all gets underway with an electric Sydney Derby against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday evening.

There’s no doubting that there’ll be a unique feel at Moore Park come the night as the Sky Blues aim to continue their excellent record over their cross-city rivals.

To look forward to Saturday’s match, we’re taking a look some of the biggest footballing fixtures to grace the SCG turf since its establishment 170 years ago.

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Sydney

1937: England Amateur side take on Australia

It might not have been England’s strongest side, but Australia struck a historic blow against their fierce sporting rivals when they arrived in 1937.

Australia’s 5-4 victory was the team’s first ever against England. And, according to England Football Online, it was the first defeat suffered by an English Football Association touring side following “131 successive victories in Germany, Austria, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Southern Rhodesia and New Zealand.”

The England Amateur team also played exhibition games against Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia on the same tour.

1964: English champions come down under

There’s been no shortage of overseas powerhouses gracing Australian shores in recent years.

Last year, Arsenal touched down in Moore Park to face Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, while Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have all arrived Down Under this decade.


Everton were one of the biggest names in English football back in the 1960s. The Toffees were reigning Division One champions when they ran out in 1964, attracting what was at the time a record crowd for a football at the SCG.

It was a major coup for Australian football, but a New South Wales side would go down 4-1 to the Merseyside outfit.

Everton
Source: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk

1974: Australia beat Uruguay en route to FIFA World Cup

Australia played two friendlies against the South American giants in 1974 in the lead up to that year’s FIFA World Cup.

The first match against Uruguay was a 0-0 stalemate in Melbourne, and two days later a crowd of nearly 30,000 people turned up to the SCG to watch Rale Rasic’s side prepare for Australia's maiden FIFA World Cup appearance.

Infamously remembered as the day Australian striker Ray Baartz was felled by a karate chop from Uruguayan defender Luis Garisto, Australia would win 2-0 with Baartz on the scoresheet and teeing up a second half strike for Peter Ollerton.

1980: England arrive again

The likes of Brian Robson, Glenn Hoddle and would-be Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher took the field for England when the Three Lions beat Australia 2-1 at the SCG in 1980.

In a warm-up match for England’s European Championships, Hoddle opened the scoring before Paul Mariner doubled the advantage in the first half.

The Green and Gold netted a late consolation through Gary Cole thanks to an 85th minute penalty.

The match is recognised as the first official meeting between the two nations.

Terry Butcher

1983: Old enemies play out SCG stalemate

Australia and England would face off again three years later at the same venue.

This time, Australia engaged the Three Lions in the first of a three-match series.

Under the tutelage of Frank Arok, Australia were thought of as a diligent, hard working side but unable to go toe-to-toe with world heavyweights.

Arok adopted what was reportedly a conservative approach but garrisoned his tactics by saying, "I was given the job to get results and I did it. Who cares how we played?"

Arok
Former Australia coach Frank Arok.