Sport in Parramatta
The official opening of the 30,000-seat Bankwest Stadium on Easter Monday, April 22, 2019, shone a light on Parramatta’s glorious rugby league and football past, along with the history of many popular sports and famous athletes from the community.
The 1880s was a dynamic time for the establishment of team sports in Parramatta. The first Sydney football club, also referred to as the ‘birthplace of soccer’ was the Parramatta-based Wanderers Club, formed in 1880.
One of Parramatta’s oldest pubs, the Woolpack Hotel, set up a small green and formed the Woolpack Club, which became the Rosehill and later the Parramatta Bowls Club for lawn bowling in 1880.
Parramatta hosted the first International All Blacks Game in the 1890s – with the captain of the team, Joe Warbrick selling his korowai, a traditional Maori cloak, to assist in his passage.
From the 1930s, Parramatta’s Rivoli Dance Hall, ‘The Riv’, functioned as a boxing and wrestling stadium as well as a venue for major sporting events, having previously hosted an open-air picture theatre, cinema, skating rink and dance hall.
The formation of the Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club in 1947 lead to the establishment of the Parramatta Eels Rugby League Club, known as the ‘Eels’.
In 1956, ‘Golden Girl’ Betty Cuthbert, from Parramatta suburb, Ermington, won three gold medals in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at the age of 18. Parramatta Council hailed her extraordinary achievements by holding a victory parade in Church Street, attended by 50,000 people.
With Bankwest Stadium becoming the new home ground for the Eels, superseding Parramatta Stadium which opened in 1986 – coincidentally, the year of the last Premiership win for the Eels – Parramatta fans will be hoping for a repeat of history.
The Heritage Centre recently acquired a richly detailed etching depicting an afternoon lawn bowling game at one of Parramatta’s oldest pubs – the Woolpack Hotel. This etching was completed in 1939 by Geoffrey C Ingleton who was a well-known naval historian, writer,...read more
'Go the Eels' banners adorn the Town Hall, 2001, City of Parramatta Cultural Collections, 2002.127 The connections between Parramatta and eels are strong and historic.  The word ‘eel’ derives from Old English and German, with similar pronunciations appearing in...read more