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STADIUM

                        

                                                                          

 
The venue for the Sydney concerts in 1965 was the old Sydney Stadium at Rushcutters Bay, just down the road from Sydney's notorious King's Cross Area
 

Sydney Stadium, corner Neild Avenue and New South Head Road, Rushcutters Bay, Photographed in 1965 by Ern McQuillan.

Originally roofless, Sydney Stadium evolved in 1908 and that same year, just a few months after opening, was the venue for the Canadian boxer Tommy Burns' unsuccessful defence of his world heavyweight boxing championship title against the American negro, Jack Johnson.
So, legends graced Sydney Stadium from it's inception!

In 1911 a corrugated iron roof was added and the stadium became the site of many more world championship boxing and wrestling matches. I recall as a youngster in the 1950's and early 60's listening to championship bouts broadcast from Sydney Stadium on the radio in the days before TV reached us in country New South Wales, prior to my move to Sydney.


Dave Smith vs Jerry Jerome, Sydney Stadium 19th April,1913. (Part of Arnold Thomas Boxing Collection).
The photo above gives a good idea of the interior layout of Sydney Stadium. Although taken in 1913, it appears little had changed by the Sixties. When this photo was taken it seems that a camera was of more interest to the audience than the proceedings in the ring. (And what a great photo for those times!)

                         Sydney Stadium, Aerial View. Photographed in 1968 by Ern McQuillan S
This aerial photo will be of interest to those who attended the Stadium, as it shows the exterior layout which was not evident at ground level. The ticket office was to the left on the street corner and you entered via a ground level tunnel like walkway into the stadium located under the octagonal roof.
During the 1950's Sydney Stadium began to be used for musical and stage events also, and with the advent of Rock 'n Roll during that decade it became the host of The Big Shows initiated by promoter Lee Gordon, as it was the only venue in Sydney which could hold an audience of around 10,000 people under cover. It became a popular Sydney landmark as it hosted a wide variety of sports and entertainment events.
Soon after The Beatles commenced a musical revolution, artists and groups, both local and overseas, seemed to catapult to stardom almost daily and the stadium was in regular use. Many people will recall the stop start journey through Sydney's gridlocked traffic, crammed in like sardines on the old double decker buses from Central Station on their way to Sydney Stadium. Whenever there was a show on at The Stadium, you just knew that the traffic heading up William Street,through Kings Cross and down the hill to The Stadium would be utter chaos.

Although little, if anything, had been done to update it over the years, Sydney Stadium was a much loved venue and held special memories for myself and countless others. The unlined corrugated iron walls and roof produced amazing sound effects, (though sometimes it was hard to hear anything over the screams), and the boxing ring in the centre of the stadium's octagon shape was converted to a stage for concerts. A large inner circular section of the stage partly revolved manually, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, to enable everyone to get a good view, including those seated or standing in "The Bleachers", which were simply thick wooden planks used for seating in tiered sections elevated up to the rear of the stadium.
Sydney Stadium was not built for comfort. It could be scorching hot in summer, had no fans, or air conditioning and no doubt was a firetrap, but "The Old Tin Shed", as it was affectionately called, had an overdose of atmosphere, which is sadly lacking in the modern Sydney venues which have since been built. You could really feel the excitement in the air as you entered the stadium through its tunnel shaped entries.
A list of entertainers, movie stars and sporting elite who performed there would read like a who's who of those times. It almost seems that just about every performer who made it big from the 1950's and 1960's appeared at the old Sydney Stadium with the exception of Elvis Presley.
Sadly, a major part of Sydney's culture and sporting and entertainment history disappeared forever when the stadium was demolished in 1970 to make way for Sydney's Eastern Suburbs Railway. A commemorative plaque is all that remains and the shadow of the railway overpass can be seen in the background in the photo below.

                                            

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