The search for a true NSFA home ground has been a long and often disappointing journey. In the 1970s our representative teams and Ku-ring-gai SC played their matches at Acron Oval in St Ives and then Parklands Oval at Mt Colah, and the NSFA Cup Final Day was held at Asquith Oval. Unfortunately, all these fields had a turf cricket wicket in the middle which is not conducive to developing players or advancing the club and no possibility of expanding the facility. It was time to find a rectangular ground without a cricket pitch!
In 1981 Hornsby Council announced a proposal to develop a facility at Kookaburra Road Hornsby Heights, next to Montview Oval. At the time Montview Oval consisted of a full-sized field next to the tennis courts and 3 mini fields in front of the amenity block where Montview 1 sits today. The Kookaburra Road project was to be constructed on vacant land to the east of the Kookaburra Road entrance to the car park. A DA was lodged early in 1983 and approved and negotiations began on a lease agreement. However, by 1986 with no agreement reached, the Management Committee (MC) withdrew from the project due to escalating cost and lack of control over its use.
Montview Oval today.
The MC continued the search for a home ground and in 1991 Hornsby Council offered Mills Park as a development opportunity. By 1993 plans were underway and once again the MC negotiated with council for a lease over the facility. A DA was lodged and after a significant number of objections from local residents the State Government ordered the DA to be withdrawn. Inevitably this development led to the death of this project.
The next venue on the radar was North Turramurra Recreation Area (NTRA). The MC entered an “Expression of Interest” in a proposed redevelopment of the site in 1999. In 2000 plans were drawn up and a DA lodged but the project faced opposition from the councillors. By the end of 2001 the project was still to be resolved so the MC withdrew and attempt #2 was also scuttled. We did not think this at the time but the abandonment of that project turned out to be a blessing in disguise as 20 years later we now have access to a much grander facility which has been built on established land with an all-weather pitch rather than the grass fields on reclaimed rubbish tip that was proposed in 2001.
Third time was a charm however, when in 2003 Mills Park was offered again as a potential home ground for the Association. Plans were drawn up; a DA was lodged and by 2005 negotiations for a lease over the facility were completed and construction began. In July 2006 Northern Tigers played its first match at our new home ground at Mills Park. Some compromises were made to our original vision, but we did end up with a high-quality rectangular grass field and a then state-of-the-art amenity building and a 20-year lease over the facility.
Mills Park served the Association well over the years, with a great deal of success enjoyed by Northern Tigers between 2007 and 2015. However, the facility was not up to standard for admission to NPL 1 leading to Northern Tigers winning the premiership in 2012 and being knocked back for the promotion to NPL 1 that they had earned with a record points tally, only 2 losses and conceding just 16 goals in 22 matches.
After all the man-hours, money and disappointment over many years, NSFA now has access to two excellent artificial surfaces at NTRA in North Turramurra and Charles Bean at Lindfield. These venues have been used by both Northern Tigers representative teams and both grounds have hosted NSFA Cup Day in recent years.
Charles Bean Oval.
Charles Bean Oval became the first synthetic field in the Ku-ring-gai LGA and was constructed as part of the residential development of the old UTS Ku-ring-gai campus. NTRA was then opened in 2017, forming the latter stages of council’s $28m redevelopment of the precinct.
NSFA paid for the $100,000 lighting at Charles Bean and at NTRA the NSFA upgraded the artificial field to comply with Football NSW regulations.
The Board is now working to raise funds to build an amenity block and grandstand at NTRA with potentially space to move the Association office to that location. If this can be achieved, then we can finally say that we have truly found our “Home of Football”.
Featured image: North Turramurra Recreation Area.