Author(s): Don Neely
Lancaster Park, or Jade Stadium, as it is known these days, has been a friend of Canterbury sports lovers since 1881. In that time it has been transformed from a group of paddocks into a fine modern sports facility that is run professionally by full-time staff.
These days Jade Stadium is mainly a football and cricket venue. But in its earlier days, Lancaster Park played host to a startling array of sports ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Australasian swimming championships, Davis Cup tennis, ballooning, international cycling, athletics (including the never-to-be-forgotten day in 1962 when Peter Snell set 800m and 880 yards world records), test soccer and hockey, softball, baseball, Australian rules, marching, and, for nearly two decades, trotting. The ground, so loved by Cantabrians, established a reputation early on as a place where records were set. That reputation endures today.
The park has also hosted circuses, band contests, fund-raising carnivals and fetes. Some world figures have appeared there. Pope John Paul II said a mass there in 1986; evangelist Billy Graham spoke there in 1959; the Duke of Gloucester visited in 1935; Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1963. Among the musical acts to have performed at the ground have been Tina Turner, U2, Billy Joel, B B King, Dire Straits.
Lancaster Park - The Illustrated History not only covers the variety of activities that have taken place at the ground, but also captures its unique character.