Redfern Oval Part I: The Ancestral Home of the Rabbitohs!

Redfern Oval: Birthplace of the Rabbitohs!

Redfern Oval: Birthplace of the Rabbitohs!

Having already immersed myself in the red and green choir of The Burrow at ANZ Stadium, I was already hankering to experience more of this wonderful sport sub-culture of Sydney.  The next morning after the Rd. 26 match, I jumped further down the rabbit hole and into the wonderland that is the Redfern Oval.  A place so beloved and revered by every Rabbitohs fan, some call it their “second home”, “the original burrow”, or the more popular “holy land”.  Some might say it is a rugby field near Downtown Sydney, but to the fans who don red and green, this is where the Bunnies were born!

"Welcome to Redfern Oval!"

“Welcome to Redfern Oval!”

Where it all began for the Bunnies...

Where it all began for the Bunnies…

"Back to Redfern, South of Sydney!"

“Back to Redfern, South of Sydney!”

Situated in the historic neighborhood of Redfern, this small stadium was once the original home turf of the South Sydney Rabbitohs from 1948 to 1987.  Not only that, this neighborhood was also where the famous team originated from.  Historically, Redfern was a poor, working-class suburb of Sydney, a rather far cry from the more posh beaches of Bondi in the Eastern Suburbs where their rivals, the Sydney Roosters, came from.  To make extra money, players would be hired to catch live rabbits, a major pest in Australia at the time, skin them alive on the spot, and then sell them to people on the street.  While playing salesmen, they would shout “Rabbitoh!  Rabbitoh!” to the passers by.  While they did that, blood from their fresh prey would drip onto their myrtle green jerseys, thus giving the team their now-famous red and green stripes.  From that endeavor, the rough and tumble lads from Redfern would forever be known as the South Sydney Rabbitohs.  Oh, and the rabbits did provide one thing for the blue-collar boys: food; rabbits were sort of the peasant meat for the people of Redfern.

Recently, the South Sydney Rabbitohs instituted the Return to Redfern game, where the team would play a legitimate NRL match on the grounds of the Redfern Oval.  Of course, since the oval has a very limited number of seats, getting in is a real challenge.  The games were only made available to registered members of the team, along with the visiting team as well.  South Sydney played the Wests Tigers in a pre-season match on February 8th, 2009.  The seating capacity for this games was only 5,000, so only members from South Sydney and the Tigers were allowed to purchases tickets for the match.  Due to the success of the RTR match, the South Sydney Rabbitohs decided to play another trial match on February 7th, 2010 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.  The match was advertised at Souths home games as “RTR 2010: The Tradition Continues”.  The game took place approximately 40 years after the famous 1970 NSWRL grand final, in which Souths legend John Sattler played most of the game with a shattered jaw.  It was at this game that Sam Burgess made his debut for the Rabbitohs and scored a try as South Sydney won on the day 42-14.

History aside, I made my way to the oval to meet up with my new friends whom I met at the Rabbitohs game from the previous night.  I caught them having brunch at this little cafe next to the oval.  I had brought with me my homemade poster, so they would see coming!  In between bites of eggs benedict and a few blows from a cigarette (not mine, of course), I began to feel right at home.  We didn’t just talk about sports, but about where we were all from, our favorite teams, where we’ve been on vacation, ya know, stuff!  We just sat and chewed the rag for so long, it was like we knew each other for so long.  There was Tanya, Brigitte, and Brian; three Souths tragics who welcomed we with open arms.

Two lovely Rabbitohs!

Two lovely Rabbitohs!

"Hey, you?  You lookin at me?!"

“Hey, you? You lookin at me?!”

Next time: The fans decide to do a little shopping.  And since we’re in Redfern, there is only one place to go: the South Sydney Club Store!

 

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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2 Responses to Redfern Oval Part I: The Ancestral Home of the Rabbitohs!

  1. John Dukes says:

    No RTR this year coming, but maybe that’s a good thing , seeing it wouldn’t be complete without all the core Burrow supporters being able to sing together ! ,,,,great story Jared ….feel your passion.

  2. Joe Mancusi says:

    Wow Jared, you are a true Rabbitoh. Thanks for sharing. I used to go to Redfern Oval before it was demolished and re-built, it was a fabulous era, now things have changed with 30,000 members and a new home ground at ANZ stadium (which you know too well). A big change from the old, but memorable Redfern oval days. Nice read, keep em coming.

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