4 Pines Park – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
4 Pines Park Pittwater Rd Brookvale NSW 2100 Australia
Year Opened: 1947
Eagle Rock at the Fortress
Lottoland, formerly, Brookvale Oval, is located on the world-famous Northern Beaches of Sydney, and has served as the home of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles NRL club since they were formed in 1947 – although the area land was designated Brookvale Park as early as 1911. Brookvale Oval has a capacity 23,000 and is managed by the local council – meaning it’s supposedly a public recreation space. The Sea Eagles have fought running battles against the council, as well as at other levels of government, to try and improve the maintenance standard of the current facility and to secure a commitment for a substantial upgrade. A junior league was first formed on the peninsula in 1932, a traditional rugby union stronghold. As such, the league was forced north from Manly itself to the nearby suburb of Brookvale. Having first requested to join the NSWRL as early as 1937, the Sea Eagles were eventually admitted to the 1947 competition along with Parramatta.
They’ve since become one of the strongest and most consistent clubs in the NRL, with the distinction of never having ever finished last at the conclusion of a season. Manly are traditionally very strong at their home ground, which is often described as “The Fortress” or colloquially as “Brookie.”
Note: Stadium name is now 4 Pines Park.
Food & Beverage 3
The haphazard design of the stadium has resulted in a mismatch of concession stands placed around the ground, rather than permanent outlets. Given this is the case, the outlets are often placed where they can be fitted in rather than strategically incorporated into the general flow of the stadium.
The food itself is of comparable quality to that of similar stadiums around Sydney and Australia, which of course means mass produced and therefore fairly average in taste yet quite expensive. A standard meal deal (main hot item plus chips and a drink) is costed at $15.50. The individual main items (pie/sausage roll / hot dog / nuggets / hot chips) at $5.50 have no price variation whatsoever, unusually so. There are several additional stands around the ground offering gourmet hot dogs ($7), pulled pork bun ($12) and donuts ($2).
Several different beers are available at the bar for between $6 for a Hahn Premium Light and $8.10 for a James Squire 150 Lashes. Pre mixed spirits cost $10, cider is $7.80 and house wine $6.90. As always, if you need a carry tray you will need to fork out an additional $1.
Brookvale Oval offers a mix of seating options. The largest of the three grandstands runs the length of the western side of the playing field and is known as the Jane Try Stand in recognition of a land donation in the early 20th century. The stand offers one level of elevated seating and as it faces the east, is shaded. There’s also seating at ground level in front of the concourse.
The player’s race runs through this concourse and on to the playing surface. In the south western corner lies the Ken Arthurson Stand, named after the long-time Manly Sea Eagles administrator. The Fulton-Menzies Stand sits at the southern end of the ground, and honours the Fulton family (former player and later coach Bob, and two of his sons who also played for Manly) and Steve Menzies, the highest try scorer in Sea Eagles history.
The northern end and eastern side are dominated by several rows of bleacher style seating and a grass hill. Plenty of spectators take the opportunity to enjoy the sun and soak up the atmosphere in this area.
There is a scoreboard that displays text only at the back of the northern hill.
Brookvale is located towards the southern end of the northern beaches. The suburb has a large industrial presence but also boasts the largest shopping centre on the peninsula, Warringah Mall. The mall offers plenty in the way of retail as well as a large food court and several café / restaurants. Manly Leagues Club (563 Pittwater Rd) is just down the road from the stadium, providing standard bistro food and several bars. The other option close by is the Brookvale Hotel (511 Pittwater Rd).
However, to get the most out of your visit to the area, you really need to travel away from Brookvale. The beaches themselves in this part of Sydney are amongst the very best Australia has to offer. The closest beach is North Curl Curl, but take your pick of any of the 21 patrolled beaches along this stretch of coastline. A few highlights to consider include Avalon (where an episode of the TV show Baywatch was filmed) and Palm Beach (where the Australian soap opera Home and Away is filmed) to the north; and Freshwater (look for the statue of Duke Kahanamoku who is said to have introduced surfing to Australia on the headland) and the world-famous Manly Beach to the south. Freshwater also offers the Harbord Diggers licensed club (80 Evans St) and Harbord Beach Hotel (29 Moore Rd).
If you’re looking for an extended night out, head down to Manly. Here you will find an abundance of pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels spread along The Corso and North Steyne. Some of the more popular pubs include The Steyne (75 The Corso), nicknamed “The Drain” amongst locals, the Ivanhoe (27 The Corso) and Manly Wharf Bar (21 East Esplanade). I’d also recommend the Manly Skiff Club (Stuart St) as a great place to enjoy a cold beer with a sensational view overlooking Manly Cove. A little closer to Brookvale lies Dee Why where numerous cafes and restaurants line the beachfront, including my personal favourite, Sandbar (25 The Strand). In short, you’re in one of the best areas of Sydney but you will need transport to make the most of it.
Manly fans are infamous for their reluctance to travel to away games, but their passion at Brookvale cannot be questioned. The Sea Eagles army show up in good numbers, mostly in Manly’s maroon colours. An average crowd is between 13,000 and 15,000 which will mean a fairly full and therefore loud stadium.
The northern beaches suffer from poor public transport, traffic and a lack of parking. The only public transport offering a direct service to Brookvale Oval is bus. If you are making a day of it and come via the city then the ferry is certainly a good option, providing great views of the harbour and showcasing Sydney as a whole. However, you will then need to get the bus up to Brookvale. Car parking in the surrounding streets is free however you’ll definitely need to be prepared for a walk – and keep in mind how steep Beacon Hill Rd is to the northwest if you park in that direction. Otherwise, $10 parking can be found in nearby Brookvale Public School. In terms of the facilities once inside, they are showing their age and the bathrooms appear not to be well cleaned with cobwebs abound.
Return on Investment 2
General admission starts at around $29 for unreserved areas and up to $66 for reserved undercover grandstand seating. If the weather is nice then take your chance on the hill (although you’ll be looking into the sun for afternoon games) but be aware the entire stadium offers little in the way of covered areas. It is priced similar to other NRL venues, but to be fair the majority of them offer a more comfortable and modern fan experience.
Additional points awarded in recognition of mascots (Egor and Ellie), cheerleaders and team store.
It appears as though plans are finally afoot to redevelop Brookvale, which will be a welcome relief. In the meantime, you’ll be treated to a traditionally strong team with plenty of fan support for the home team.