Adelaide Oval, South Australia

The Adelaide Oval scoreboard began service 100 years ago, on 3 November 1911. The scoreboard is not Adelaide Oval’s original: the first was erected in 1879 and another in 1885. The one which preceded it was ‘re-erected’ in 1898. They were simple boards with the operator, in front, hanging plates on hooks.

At the 100th birthday celebration on 25 October, South Australian Cricket Association president Ian McLachlan said “Being the only operational scoreboard of its type in the Southern hemisphere, the scoreboard is arguably one of the best in the world in that it tells the whole story of the game at any one point.”

The scoreboard’s chief operator Frank Scott helped cut the scoreboard shaped birthday cake.

Writing in The Australian on 26 January 2012, eminent sportswriter Gideon Haigh noted: ‘Adelaide Oval’s 100-year-old scoreboard is a gloriously analog affair, with its descending dittos, sliding discs, players’ names on canvas hoardings and clockface with Roman numerals. Operating it is a mighty undertaking. It took nearly the entire break between innings yesterday to dismantle evidence of Australia’s 7(dec)-604- a reminder of the big job of work it takes to overhaul such a score on the field. ‘

The scoreboard was designed by distinguished architect Kenneth Milne for the South Australian Cricket Association. Milnes’s other clients included the Hampshire Hotel, the South Australian Brewing Co, the Edments building in Rundle Street, as well as banks, hotels, churches, houses, woolstores, swimming-pools and picture-theatres.

Photo courtesy of John Kingsmill, sportswriter

Milne belonged to the Adelaide Rowing Club, the Amateur Sports Club and the South Australian Rugby Union. To celebrate his ninety-first year, he stroked an A.R.C. VIII on the River Torrens, with three family members in the crew. He died on 3 October 1980 at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide.

The South Australian Government is contributing $535million to a redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval. While much of the ground will change, the scoreboard, plus the oval’s Moreton Bay Fig trees, the cathedral views and the grassed northern mound will be retained.

Photo by Stanley Digger Roberts, Victorian football stalwart

Photo by Les Everett, from a long-ago Sheffield Shield game between South Australia and Victoria. Players included Peter Sleep, Bob (father of Greg) Blewett, Barry Causby, Trevor Laughlin, Dav Whatmore and Brendan McCardle.

Sources and further information:
History of the scoreboard (South Australian Cricket Association)

Birthday celebrations (includes YouTube footage!)

Biography of architect Kenneth Milne
(Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Adelaide Oval redevelopment
(South Australian Cricket Association)

All photos by Jesse Maskell, unless stated otherwise.

Main photo collage designed by Brendan Moody

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