AFL Gather Round: Redlegs ready to roll out red carpet at Norwood Oval

By Jason Phelan for

NORWOOD Oval, the spiritual home of the SANFL’s mighty Redlegs, will add another chapter to its rich history when the storied stadium hosts AFL games played for premiership points for the first time during the much-anticipated Gather Round.

The boutique venue will host two AFL games in round five when Fremantle takes on Gold Coast in a twilight clash on Friday, with Greater Western Sydney to battle Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon.

And travelling fans are in for a treat.

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Nestled in Adelaide’s leafy inner east, Norwood Oval, known to locals as ‘The Parade’, is one of South Australia’s premier sporting facilities situated in cosmopolitan Norwood, a suburb renowned for its shopping and hospitality offerings.

It’s been the home of SANFL premiership powerhouse Norwood since it opened in 1901 and features two grand old red brick stands on the western and southern sides, with a spectators’ hill curving around the northern and eastern sides.

A general view of the Norwood Oval stand during an AFLW match in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

Fans will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking options before and after games, with dozens of restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs within walking distance of the ground.

Enjoy a refreshing beverage at the Norwood Hotel or The Colonist before the game, then celebrate or commiserate with a pizza at Parade mainstay Caffe Buongiorno or relative newcomer 400 Gradi after.

James Fantasia, former Adelaide Crows recruiting manager and current chief executive of Norwood Football Club, is charged with helping roll out the red carpet for visiting clubs and their fans.

“It’s exciting … I think bringing AFL footy to a suburban ground adds a whole new layer to the experience,” Fantasia told

“It will feel ‘just like the old days’ for a lot of fans.

“Having said that, we’ve undertaken a significant redevelopment in recent years, including upgraded change rooms and club rooms, state-of-the-art lights, a high-resolution 10x6m LED screen and LED boundary signage.

“Fan engagement has been front and centre in that redevelopment, including improved canteens and better disabled access, so fans will certainly be well catered for.

“The teams will be training here as well, so we’ll invite local schools to come down with fans to have a look and get a few autographs.

“There will be a real buzz of excitement about the place all week.”

A view of the entrance to Norwood Oval. Picture: SANFL

The stadium’s official capacity is listed at 15,000, but numbers have been capped at 10,500 for AFL games to help ensure fans have an enjoyable match day experience.

Interstate supporters planning to attend can be assured of a viewing experience unlike anything they’ve previously enjoyed.

“From our western stand, you feel like you’re sitting on top of the action,” Fantasia said.

“During my time in recruiting, I reckon I’ve been to almost every ground in Australia, and I don’t think there’s anywhere like The Parade as a viewing ground.”

While there will be entertainment options aplenty for fans in and around Norwood Oval, coaches and players will be more concerned with the patch of grass that has goalposts at either end.

The Parade boasts an outstanding playing surface, that has been meticulously groomed in the off-season, with Adelaide Oval curators brought in to advise Norwood ground staff.

“The surface is the best I’ve seen it,” Fantasia said.

“We’ve also lightened the load in terms of training and playing on it, which is a big impact on us, but we’re prepared to do that to ensure that it comes up well.”

A view of Norwood oval from the 50m line. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The ground’s unique dimensions will have coaches considering their tactics.

Fans screaming for their side to ‘kick it up the guts!’ might actually be onto a winning strategy on the hallowed turf at The Parade.

At 165m long, it’s similar to most AFL venues, but is significantly skinnier than most at 110m wide, compared with Adelaide Oval (125m), the MCG (141), Marvel Stadium (128.8), Optus Stadium (130) and Giants Stadium (127.5).

Norwood Oval is a five-minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD, but fans are advised to use public transport as there is no on-site parking available and on-street parking near the stadium is limited.