Junction Oval (officially known St Kilda Cricket Ground and soon to be referred to as the Victorian Cricket and Community Centre) is an historic sports ground in the suburb of St Kilda in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its location near the St Kilda Junction (the intersection of St Kilda's main street - Fitzroy Street - and St Kilda Road) gave rise to its nickname. It is located approximately five kilometres from the centre of Melbourne and is in the southernmost part of the large Albert Park sporting precinct.
In July 2015, the oval began undergoing a $25–$40 million redevelopment designed to make it the administrative headquarters of Cricket Victoria.
Junction Oval was established on its present site in 1856. The first grandstand at the ground was purchased from the old Elsternwick racecourse and erected in 1892 at the southern end of the ground. A new grandstand was built in 1925-6 at a cost of £7000, designed by the architect E J Clark and built by H H Eilenberg. It was originally called the G P Newman Stand but has been renamed the Kevin Murray Stand after one of the Fitzroy Football Club's most famous footballers. A second brick stand designed by E J Clark to complement the Murray Stand was built by H H Eilenberg in 1933-4 at a cost of £7500. It was named the Don Blackie-Bert Ironmonger Stand in honour of the St Kilda Cricket Club and Test cricketers. It still functions as a public pavilion. A new £6000 manual scoreboard and kiosk at the northern end of the ground was built in 1956-7, the cricket club's centenary year. It is unknown what the fate of these facilities is in the 2015–2017 redevelopment.
The current capacity of the ground is around 8,000. The scoreboard (built 1954-55 by the St Kilda Cricket Club) is a landmark of the St Kilda Junction area. There are two main heritage grandstands, the Blackie-Ironmonger stand built by the St Kilda Cricket Club (named after two of St Kilda Club's Test cricketers: recently restored and in use), and the Kevin Murray grandstand (named after one of Fitzroy's greatest footballers: not in use). The remainder of the ground is terraced asphalt, with grass embankments at the rear. Older structures were demolished during a rationalisation of the ground, after they were declared a fire hazard by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1988. It is a very picturesque venue, with a top-quality turf playing area and a modern backdrop of tall buildings and parkland.
Cricket great Shane Warne has had a long association with the St Kilda Cricket Ground, not only making his first class debut at the ground for Victoria in 1991, but also playing there on numerous occasions between 1989 and 2006 for his club side, St Kilda. Due to these connections, the club began discussions in 2010 to rename the ground the Shane Warne Oval. Though such a change never occurred, Warne has previously spoken on behalf of the campaign to preserve the ground's suitability as a venue for first-class cricket.
The redevelopment of the venue, expected to be completed in time for the 2017–18 cricket season, will incorporate several new features:A boutique-sized alternate first-class venue with a capacity of up to 7000;
A National Centre for Diversity through Cricket incorporating the 'Harmony in Cricket' community hub;
On-site self-contained accommodation for visiting teams, coaches, administrators, officials and volunteers;
High quality training, medical and rehabilitation facilities;
An administrative home for Cricket Victoria's various activities;
A home for the Sport Education and Development Australia Cricket Program;
Improved oval irrigation and drainage;
An extensive turf training area;
A 10-lane indoor training centre; and
Improved facilities for community cricket, including the St Kilda Cricket Club.
Although the ground was originally built for cricket (St Kilda Cricket Club has played at the St Kilda Cricket Ground since 1855), it is also known as the original home ground of the St Kilda Football Club. St Kilda first began playing matches at the oval in 1873, at the time of the club's inception. The Saints played home games at the venue until 1964.
St Kilda played 564 VFL home matches for premiership points at the ground between 1897 and 1964. The Saints' final home game at the venue was on the 22 August 1964 – a 12-point win against the Geelong – 12.18 (90) to 11.12 (78) – in front of an attendance of 37,100. The club also played 16 away games at the venue – 13 against the Fitzroy Lions and three against South Melbourne. St Kilda left the venue after the 1964 season and moved its home base to Moorabbin Oval, mostly motivated by its desire to operate its own venue as ground manager; at the Junction Oval, the St Kilda Cricket Club was the ground manager and the football club its tenant.
The first ever women's footy match was played there in 1921.
Before the 1944 season, the military vacated the Junction Oval. Because it was closer to South Melbourne’s still-occupied home base of the Lake Oval than Princes Park, the Swans started playing their home games at the venue. The South Melbourne Football Club played 29 home matches for premiership points at the ground between 1944 and 1946.
In 1970, Fitzroy relocated to the venue and stayed until the end of 1984. The Fitzroy Football Club played 135 home matches for premiership points at the ground between 1970 and 1984.
The ground hosted a total of six VFL finals series matches including two semi-finals, one preliminary final and three grand finals in 1898, 1899 and 1944. The Fitzroy Football Club won all grand finals played at the venue.
A total of 734 VFL/AFL matches were at the ground, the highest score being Fitzroy's 34.16 (220) against North Melbourne in 1983.
The Melbourne Football Club began to use the venue as a training ground, and later as the base of its football department, in 1985, after it was barred from using the Melbourne Cricket Ground for training in order to preserve the surface for the increased number of games it would host as North Melbourne began playing games there. It maintained a training base at the ground until 2008.
After World War II, the ground became the regular venue for Victorian Football Association finals. It staged every top division VFA finals series, including Grand Finals, from 1945 until 1962, in 1966, and then again from 1970 until 1987. The VFA’s Sandringham Football Club used Junction Oval as its home ground during the 1966 season.
The major winter tenant since the early 1990s has been the Victorian Amateur Football Association’s Old Melburnians Football Club, who still call the ground home today. Since moving to the ground in 1992, the Junction Oval has seen OMFC win four senior premierships and in 2009 the club, which fields five sides in the VAFA, won four premierships in one year.
The annual 3RRR Community Cup football match was played there until 2007. The final Australian rules football match to be played at the Junction Oval occurred in late July 2015, when Old Melburnians met Caulfield Grammarians in a home and away season match.
46,973 people turned up on 20 May 1950 to watch St Kilda play Carlton in a VFL match. This is a bigger crowd than any of the three grand finals played at the venue.
The record attendance for a South Melbourne home game at the Junction Oval was 38,000 against Richmond in 1946.
The record attendance for a Fitzroy home game was 27,202 versus Collingwood in the opening round of 1981.
The Junction Oval is home to the St Kilda Cricket Club, which plays in the Victorian Premier Cricket competition. St Kilda CC has called the ground home since the ground's opening in 1856.
The redevelopment of the oval will mean that, from the 2017–18 season, it will be the home to the Victoria cricket team in the Sheffield Shield, as well as be the administrative headquarters of Cricket Victoria in the form of the Victorian Cricket and Community Centre. Victoria has utilised the oval in the past, most recently during the 2005–06 season when the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was being prepared for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. In the early 1990s it was used regularly because of the construction of the Great Southern Stand at the MCG. It also played host to the 2008/09 Sheffield Shield final, won by the Bushrangers, due to the unavailability of the MCG, because of the Bushfire relief concert.
On 3 March 1975, one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, "Smokin" Joe Frazier, defeated Jimmy Ellis via technical knockout in the 9th round of their scheduled 12 round fight at the Junction Oval, "to barge squarely back into contention for Muhammad Ali's world heavyweight title." It was the second time Ellis had fought Frazier; Frazier had won their first fight. Other major events that have been held at the ground include the 1898/99 Victorian athletics titles, numerous bicycle meets and two inter-colonial lacrosse matches between Victoria and New South Wales.