Councillor urges Subi turf be heritage listed for football history

SUBIACO councillor Mark Burns wants the City to take another punt on heritage listing Subiaco Oval’s grass because of its importance to WA since the first game there in 1908.

“Why is it hallowed ground? Because from the first day some grandfather kicked a ball to his grandson, to the two games with WA teams in AFL finals this weekend, the period in between is our social heritage,” Cr Burns said.

At their meeting tonight, Cr Burns wants fellow councillors to support his urgent motion asking council staff to submit a new ”professional application” for heritage protection of the oval, where the entry gates already have protection. The request follows Cr Burns and other councillors finding that their March request for the oval’s protection comprised a four-page application and a 2004 report on heritage values from their council.

“They submitted an 11-year-old document, which had nothing to do with the social heritage of the oval,” Cr Burns said.

He considers social heritage to include the recognition first obtained by Aboriginal players in front of European crowds, and the WA Football and Australian Football leagues played on the turf over the past 107 years.

He said it would be good that heritage listing of the oval could give Premier Colin Barnett less opportunity to consider the whole site’s possible development for housing after Perth Stadium in Burswood opens.

Subiaco Oval is leased to the WA Football Commission (WAFC), whose spokesman said it was working with Subiaco Council to ensure the history of the site continues to be “appropriately recognised”. The spokesman said the WAFC believed that keeping the oval in any future redevelopment was desirable but it did not have any position on any heritage listing.

Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the Heritage Council’s initial review of the oval’s surface found it was unlikely to meet the rules that would put it on the State Register of Heritage Places but he would consider the Heritage Council’s recommendation.