St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Rugby St George's Park - Welcome Crusaders - Improvements to the Field
Welcome Crusaders - Improvements to the Field

The year 1889 was a memorable one for yet another reason.

In April, F E Geoghegan addressed a letter to the Council requesting that a rugby club named Crusaders, which had been formed in February, 1887, should be allowed the use of the ground during the winter season. The Council concurred, and rugby made its bow, the season being limited to a period from April 1st to August 31st.

Thus began a famous partnership. More and more people began to flock to the ground on all occasions throughout the year, and it became clear that further improvements were imperative if its position as a premier venue for sport was to be maintained.

So on August 16th, 1890, another of those momentous conferences took place. Representing the Town was I Brister (Mayor), and Councillors Kemsley, Mcllwraith, Gleeson and Gates, Darlow Jones and Butters of the Parks Department.

On the club side were M. M. Loubser, President; Bob Pettit Vice-President; and Messrs Geoghegan, Scholefield, Heugh, Walton and Conyingham. These were names that breathed the very history of Port Elizabeth.

In a well-reasoned argument, Mr Loubser, pointed out that the grant of the ground had been made prior to the transfer of the ground to the Council in 1864, when St. George's Park was proclaimed. But he did not wish to raise this matter as a debating point because the Council had always been fair and liberal in all matters pertaining to the ground.

Up to this time 3,000 had already been spent on the maintenance and improvement of the ground, all of which had been contributed by members and friends.

The Council was aware that members of the club were mostly young men and consequently the burden of providing funds for these improvements had always fallen on a few of the older members.

Funds for certain extensions and improvements were now urgently required. These would further beautify the ground so as to make it one of the best in the Colony and a credit to Port Elizabeth. It would be a source of recreation and enjoyment to the inhabitants of this town.

"It is a subject of frequent complaint", Mr. Loubser went on, "that strangers as well as residents have no place of entertainment to go to of an evening. The Cricket Club wishes to provide a kind of national enjoyment in the shape of open-air concerts of an evening on their ground similar to that at Kimberley and most continental cities. It is proposed to light up the ground and have a band in attendance there of an evening."

This was the only ground in the area that could be used for major sporting events. It was, therefore, requested that the Council give the club full and free control, making arrangements for an adequate water supply, assist with fencing, and grant a long lease at a nominal rental.

As M M Loubser, one of the great and true sportsmen in Port Elizabeth's history, sat down, the scales tilted in favour of the club, and the great international arena as we know it today was finally conceived, although, of course, he and the men present were not aware of it at the time.

For it was only four days later, on August 16th, 1890, that the Council agreed to lay pipes, to grant a long lease and to allow the club to charge a reasonable entrance fee, although a stipulation was made that there should be a portion reserved on the East side at 6d a head.

The Mayor and two members of the Parks Committee were to be ex-officio members of the Club Committee. Admission to promenade concerts was to be 1/- per person.

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