Inside the Adelaide Oval scoreboard
Photos and words by Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt
The return of elite footy to the Adelaide Oval is a bonus for scoreboard lovers, for there are not many scoreboards like this classic century-old structure. It has survived not only the ravages of time but the advances of the Oval’s recent multi-million dollar re-development.
The highlight of a 90 minute tour of the Adelaide Oval is the ten-minute visit into the gizzards of the historic scoreboard.
The scoreboard resembles the insides of a large garden shed found at the back of a pre-WW2 home in Dudley Park, complete with 1963 Frigidaire festooned with a “DRINKS $1 EACH” sign scrawled in texta and the attendants fearing a visit from the Workcover inspector.
Frank Scott worked on the scoreboard for over 25 years. He was a stalwart at the Ingle Farm Football Club when I knew him in the late 70s /early 80s.
“It’s a fantastic little building,” he told ABC Radio back in 2008.”It gets hot and it’s got its disadvantages, but the advantages far outweigh them.”
Frank admits feeling a little nervous when the electronic scoreboard was erected next to the original building, but now thinks they make a good pair.
“We did think it was going to be the end of an era, but thankfully it wasn’t.”
For cricket matches, there are three-to four operators with separate tasks for the batting, bowling and fielding, with a flurry of activity at the fall of wickets.
The scores are controlled by hand using a series of rollers controlled by cogs and bicycle chains.
We didn’t open the fridge with the “DRINKS $1 EACH” sign, but since there is no air-conditioning in the box, I expect that it was kept full at all times.
The scoreboard is a tribute to simplicity and ingenuity. May it stand for the next hundred years.
Parts of this story were first published on The Footy Almanac.