#FarewellPirtek: Remembering Pirtek Stadium
As the NSWRL prepares to send off Pirtek Stadium with a bang, we've decided to look back at some of the moments that stick in our mind from the venue.
The ground traditionally known as Parramatta stadium will close its doors at NSWRL Grand Final Day on Sunday, 25 September. A family-friendly crowd will be treated to the Sydney Shield, Ron Massey Cup and Intrust Super Premiership deciders, before the well-loved venue is demolished for a larger stadium at the end of the year. It will be an historic day for Rugby League fans in general in a traditional gem of Sydney's West.
A total of 428 first grade Rugby League and representative matches have been played at the venue, which has hosted the Parramatta Eels since 1986. We've hand-picked some of the most memorable moments from the ground.
16 March, 1986: The Eels' New Home
When the Eels defeated the Newtown Jets for an historic first NSWRL premiership in 1981, many diehard fans stormed back to the Parramatta Leagues Club to celebrate - and were locked out, forcing them towards the nearby Cumberland Oval. With fans not happy with the state of the Eels' then-home ground, they took to the 2,000-capacity stand with fire, burning it to the ground and forcing Parramatta management to develop a new ground.
That new home finally came in time for the 1986 season and on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Eels ran out in front of a capacity crowd of 26,870 and proved unstoppable; they defeated the St George Dragons 36 points to six. The Eels would go on to win the premiership again later that season but this time, luckily, the stadium remained in tact.
19 June, 1992: Brits Brought Down
The 1992 season saw the Great Britain Lions Tour of Australasia, with the visiting English, Scottish and Welsh team playing 17 games across Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. The team were hardly dominant in that time, but when they lined up against the Eels in a Friday Night Footy showdown they had only been defeated once - by the world-beating Kangaroos a week earlier. The Eels, who had ran second-last in the previous year's NSWRL season, knew they were in for a David-versus-Goliath battle, but miraculously won 22-16 in front of the biggest non-test crowd of the tour.
6 July, 1994: Catastrophic Kangaroos
In front of 26,318 spectators - still the most to ever pack into Parramatta Stadium - Australia welcomed the French national team in what was the first test to be held at a suburban Sydney venue. The French had not toured in Australia since 1990 and, following the 58-0 thrashing at the hands of the Kangaroos, did not visit Down Under again until the 2008 World Cup. A double to current VB Blues coach Laurie Daley earned him Man Of The Match honours, while it would turn out to be current Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga's final test on home soil.