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Bodyline Bar opens at Adelaide Oval

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Cricket’s most infamous Test match has been immortalised in a new bar at the Adelaide Oval.

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The Bodyline Bar will open on Saturday – the first day of the Adelaide Ashes Test – in the western members’ stand at the oval, which was the site of the bloody third match of the 1932-33 Bodyline series between Australia and England.

The bar features a range of memorabilia from the Bodyline series and is designed to capture the feel of a bygone era.

It sits at the northern end of level two of the western stand and is a mirror image of the popular Phil Ridings bar at the opposite end.

SACA president Andrew Sinclair says planning for the bar began in 2012 and the space was set aside soon after, but it took longer than expected to come to fruition. However, he says its opening to coincide with day one of the first day/night Ashes Test is ideal.

“The quality of the fit-out is top-notch, with a view towards trying to create the ambience of a Long Room at the MCG or Lord’s; it is intended to be a real quality product.

“The Adelaide Oval has a lot of corporate suites you might see in a lot of venues but it doesn’t have a room that really recognises the history of Adelaide Oval and that’s what this was about.

“Part of the reason the redevelopment has been so successful is because it has an eye on the history of Adelaide Oval – we’ve kept the scoreboard and the hill and I think this is the same.

“Adelaide Oval and the Bodyline Series seem to go hand in hand when you talk cricket, so it was an opportunity to say: Why don’t we celebrate that?”

The view from the bar. Photo courtesy Cox Architecture

Day two of the third Test at Adelaide Oval in 1933 was possibly the single most intense day of the infamous Bodyline series. The Australian batsmen, including Sir Donald Bradman, faced a barrage of short-pitched bowling and when captain Bill Woodfull was struck in the heart by a ball from Harold Larwood, police lined the boundary in preparation for a riot.

Although the riot never eventuated, a guard armed with a rifle was posted to the Adelaide Oval pitch each night amid fears the irate public would dig up the wicket. His rifle is on display in the Bodyline bar.

Other items in the bar include Clarrie Grimmett’s full playing outfit, a bat signed by both Bodyline sides and the clock that overlooked the ground in 1933 from the top of the members’ stand.

Tables in the bar have been fashioned from the turnstiles that let fans into the ground from 1880 to the early 2000s, and three televisions will show highlights from the Bodyline series while a speaker plays radio commentary from 1933.

The walls feature large images of 17 of the players who took part in the game, including Bradman, Woodfull, Victor Richardson, Grimmett and Bert Oldfield, and England’s Douglas Jardine, Larwood and Wally Hammond. The images and their accompanying descriptions were taken from cricket cards included in cigarette packs in 1933.

The walls feature images of the players from the Bodyline series. Photo courtesy Cox Architecture

The 210-person-capacity bar is set to be a permanent fixture at Adelaide Oval during cricket and football seasons. Like several other rooms in the ground, it is also available to be hired out for private functions, such as birthday parties, when matches are not in progress.

Sinclair says the brass beer tap fittings and the wood floors and joinery are designed to give the room a sense of grandeur.

“What we were trying to do was give it a bit of a feel from the opulent Great Gatsby ’30s and bring it up to current standards,” he says.

“It’s trying to recognise the history of the most historic Test match ever played at the Adelaide Oval and I hope it’s there for a long time.”

Photo courtesy Cox Architecture

Despite the bar not being open yet, SACA members are already voting with their feet. A ballot system was used to grant access to the Bodyline Bar during the upcoming Test and all 15 sessions are booked out.

Coincidentally, the record for the biggest Test match cricket attendance at Adelaide Oval – 50,962 – was set during the Bodyline Test in 1933. That record is expected to be broken this weekend.

The Bodyline Test also holds the Adelaide Oval attendance record of 172,361 across the five days of a Test.

This article was first published on The Lead.

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