A sneak peak look of the Sandover Medal Walk’s future at the redeveloped Subiaco Oval has been released.
Each name of the WA Football League’s annual best and fairest winners will again be immortalised at the State’s traditional home of football.
The Sandover Medal Walk was a series of footpath engraved pavers installed along Roberts Road and Haydn Bunton Drive in the early 2000’s until 2017, the last year before the WAFL Grand Final and Australian Football League matches were moved to Optus Stadium on the Burswood peninsular. Commemorative plaques will again honour each Sandover Medallist once nearly $10 million of redevelopment works is completed around Subiaco Oval, expected in the first half of 2023.
WA Football Commission chair Wayne Martin said it was fitting the walk would be reintroduced at Subiaco Oval, describing the ground “the home of football in WA for 110 years”.
It hosted the very first WAFL game between Subiaco and East Perth in 1908.
“The Sandover Medal winners are the best players in the best competition in WA,” Mr Martin said.
“It is important their contribution to the game be remembered.
“There has of course been a little bit of discussion about whether this is the best place for that to occur.
“We’re alive to both points of view, we think though that the place here is appropriate given the heritage value of this site.
“But it also doesn’t preclude recognition for Sandover Medal winners somewhere else in the future.”
WA Sports and Recreation Minister David Templeman said Subiaco Oval will “always be a special place in the history and heritage” of Australian football.
That sentiment was echoed Swan Districts legend and 1982 Sandover medallist Phil Narkle. “Just standing on this ground now, we were reminiscing about it. . . there is a lot stories here, and a lot of good memories here,” Narkle said.
“I’m not just talking football players here, but also administrators, supporters and members. “My favourite memory was the ’82 grand final, the first of our of three premierships. . . there was always a great, great atmosphere here, playing in front of people that loved the games.”
As well as the installation of a reinterpreted Sandover Medal Walk, major works underway include a Noongar Six Seasons Bidi trail, an immersive experience for visitors to learn about Noongar knowledge, culture and history, which has been led by the Subi East Elder Group.
The Sandover Medal Walk pavers were removed and placed into storage ahead of the demolition of the Subiaco Oval stadium. With many in poor condition, the decision was made to deliver a modern reinterpretation around the heritage-listed oval.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said Subiaco Oval’s redevelopment would feature key elements of WA’s football history.
“As a huge WAFL and AFL fan, I have fond memories of visiting Subiaco Oval and doing the Sandover Medal Walk, spotting the names of some of the WAFL’s greatest players,” she said.
“Subiaco Oval has played an important part in our State’s sporting history for generations, and I’m so proud our Government has worked to keep it as an asset that can continue to be enjoyed by the local community.”