Back to Ballymore - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Back to Ballymore

Back to Ballymore

This Saturday night Super Rugby heads back to Ballymore for the first time since 2005.  It shapes as a fascinating night for Queensland
Rugby as ‘traditionalists’ have been calling for a return to Queensland Rugby HQ since we left five years ago. In the end its taken a soccer game at Suncorp to get us back there, which is somewhat ironic considering soccer is now a major tenant at Ballymore.

I was at Ballymore only a few weeks ago to watch Will Chambers run around for the QLD A team.  Whilst the ground itself still looks superb – as good as any in Australia, even Suncorp, the rest of the facilities are substandard.  Make no mistake about it, it will be a shit fight this weekend. And I’m not talking about the footy. 

Expect queues everywhere. To get in, to buy tickets, to buy beer, to have a piss, to jump on the band wagon…the facilities just aren’t up to. The funny thing is that the Reds’ improved performance this year, notably the win over the Crusaders, should see a big crowd this weekend. But the crowd would have been better at Suncorp anyway, but now Team Ballymore is sure to jump on their soap boxes, take credit for the crowd and start braying about bringing the game back to the people.

By why did we leave? Sure, there was the thrill of playing at that schmick looking place that used to be Lang Park. And it was such a hit at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. There HAD to be some inducements coming from the Government. It would eventually come a year or two later in the form of sponsorship from Queensland Rail. But they won’t hang around much longer, which pretty much frees us up for a return. So should we?

I know, personally, I hate the battle to get to Ballymore.  Trains work so well to Suncorp, and let’s face it, there’s a still a few of us selfish pricks who prefer to drive.  Parking around Milton is do-able. Not so at Ballymore.  The local residents are feistier than a Springbok forward pack.


But the memories. Ahhh..the memories. Creek bank picnics.  Post game footy on the field. The Bundy Bar. Going back a little further, that playground in the back where your parents ditched you so they could drink at the bar. The uncomfortable bench seating of the McLean Stand. Milling around waiting for the players to leave the change rooms post game to get an autograph. Sitting on the hill. The top right corner of the Ariadne Stand when it was new. The curve of the playing surface meaning, at ground level, you struggled to see play at the opposite corner. Girls in jodhpurs. The Big Rooster (before they were Red) outlet. Bomber the dog.  PK chewing gum (it seemed the only time I had it was at Ballymore). The memories keep flooding back. And that’s without mentioning the players themselves.

And we were bloody good there. Let’s forget the real glory days, the amateur days, and let’s look at how we fared in the pro-era.  From 1996 onwards. When Super Rugby hit. Looking at the stats and it’s fair to say, the Reds loved Ballymore.

In the 54 Super Rugby games we played there, we won 37 of them. That’s a win record of a little under 70%!!! When you considering we are hovering around 42% in all professional Super rugby tournaments, that’s a bloody significant record.

And we left that? To go to Suncorp? Great facility, but.

Our record at Suncorp is pretty bloody poor. We’ve played 29 there and just won 11 for a win record of about 38%. Not that good! In fact in 29 games there, we have already lost more games (18) then we did in the 54 games at Ballymore (16).

You just don’t throw away that type of home ground advantage do you? Seemingly….we did!

Nice timing on the return though. The Blues. They HATE Ballymore. In Super Rugby they’ve come there five times and lost every game with an average scoreline of 34-16. And this was the team that dominated Super 12 in the early years. We racked up scores against them of 51-13 (1996), 33-18 (1998), 33-26 (2000), 34-23 (2002) and 20-3 (2004). It’d be an amazing streak to extend this weekend.

The last Super game played at Ballymore, was in 2005 against the Cats. We won, as statistics show was more often the case. 21-15 was the score. But it’s worth noting the team and seeing where they are now.

15 Chris Latham – last Reds game in 2008 before heading to England to play
14 Wendell Sailor – last Reds game in 2005 before heading to Tahs, then purgatory, then league.
13 Ben Tune – last Reds game in 2007. That debacle v the Bulls. How unfair.
12 Junior Pelesasa – last Reds game in 2005 before heading to the Force. Now in France.
11 Drew Mitchell – last Reds game in 2006. Went to Force to play fullback. Now wing at the Tahs.
10 Elton Flatley – last Reds game in 2006 due to too many head knocks.
9 Nic Berry – last Reds game in 2007. Also playing in France
8 John Roe – last Reds game in 2008. Retired gracefully, albeit mid-season.
7 David Croft – last Reds game in 2008. Retired gracefully too, albeit losing to the Tahs.
6 Daniel Heenan – This was his last Reds game before embarking on an injury free career at the Brumbies. Oh, hang on…
5 Nathan Sharpe – last Reds game in 2005 before abandoning the ship to play for the Force.
4 Hugh McMeniman – last Reds game in 2009. Or is it?????
3 Greg Holmes – still playing. This was only his 8th game, and 6th start.
2 Sean Hardman – still playing.  This was his 56th Super cap for the Reds.
1 Nick Stiles – last Reds game in 2005. Now coaching in Japan.

Julian Huxley
– last Reds game in 2006 before returning to the Brumbies. Now retired. Or is he??
Lloyd Johansson
– last Reds game in 2007.  Now in Italy. Rumoured to be a Rebel recruit.  But who isn’t?
Tom McVerry – last Reds game in 2007. The Bulls game. Now in Japan.
Stephen Moore – last Reds game in 2008. Now at Brumbies.
Rudi Vedelago
– last Reds game in 2005. Another who went West. Back home now running family business I believe?

So where does that leave us? The ground has great memories? Check. The Reds have a great record there? Check. The QRU owns it so its cheaper to use to Suncorp? Check (or possibly not, when you consider overlay requirments). So should the Reds go back? Are you going back? Would you on a permanent basis? Let us know.


  • reds fan

    I note that this time round, if you want a creek bank party or even a boot party, you need to fork out $110 per spot due to licensing laws. How things have changed.

  • reds fan

    I’ve attended trial matches at Ballymore over the last few years, and agree that with 20k in attendance it will be an absolute shitfight!

  • Scotty

    I’d go back for sure. I reckon there are two main reason the QRU is in trouble finacially:

    1. Reds playing like shit
    2. Reds playing at Suncorp

    The shit doesn’t get the crowd, and Suncorp costs too much without a big crowd.

  • Disco

    Last time I went I promised I’d never go back as it was just shit. There was only 5,000 at that game & it was a nightmare.

    Goodluck to those that make the journey this week especially if they sell it out.

    • OzSash

      Completely agree … it’s an absolute shame how shit the facilities are to cope with even a half-decent crowd.

      Again, good luck to all punters and good luck getting more than one beer! Oh, also, bring your super-size bladder :)

  • Scotty

    I’ve only got good memories. Although I must admit that most of the memories are pretty hazy.

  • Sandpit Fan

    Not for me. Good memories of the games there, but getting a beer is bloody hard work, and then if you need a piss, that’s the rest of the game shot. Couldn’t agree more about the local residents, I can remember getting a tune up from one bloke when it only looked like we were going in front of his place.

    We need to move on, not sure Suncorp is the answer, but Ballymore certainly isn’t.

  • happy hooker

    It really depends on the team, if they win, larger crowds at Suncorp should yield more? If they lose, QRU probably lose more.

    Its probably a safer $ hedge to play there, plus, as a Tahs fan, it was a fortress – impenitrable and daunting.

    How much work does it need is the Question?

    • ash

      Think shit, think loads, multiply them together. Square it a few times. And then, you’re not even there, apparently.

  • there are less than 5000 tickets left, so buying shouldn’t be too bad, if you have them but need to collect, I would hit an agency up before hand and avoid the queues.

    Won’t help with beer, but less time in a ticket queue gives you more time to queue in a beer queue…

  • ash

    Nodster, if the last game was in 2005 vs the Cats, how can so many of that team from said last game in 2005 play their last game for the Reds in 2004?

    • Noddy

      an unadulterated mistake.

      Shall fix promptly!


  • CJ

    Well maybe the Prime Minister, who only lives just over the Story Bridge, should be in attendance to see the damage of withdrawing the promised Federal funding!!! He’s attended ALL the other football codes (& the cricket).

  • woody

    nope. ballymore is home. i’d love nothing more than for the reds to return home. if we returned, i have no doubt that large crowds would follow, which could eventually mean that the facilities could be upgraded. it is my favourite stadium/ground in australia and i don’t just mean rugby grounds. can not wait for saturday.

  • Brax

    While I to have fond memories of Ballymore & still attend a couple of tour matches & Premier finals, the place just aint’ up to scratch for Super 14 crowds. Everything Noddy pointed out is true & I swore I’d never go to another one after attending the first game there in 2005. Even the shuttle buses are a shit fight. Suncorp is much more relaxed for the bigger crowds, in every possible way with the added bonus of being smack bang in an entertainment precinct. I won’t be renewing my season membership if they move back to the quaint antique that is Ballymore.

ACT Brumbies

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

More in ACT Brumbies