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The Oval

The Oval
The Oval Pavilion
Ground information
Location Kennington, London, England
Establishment 1845
Capacity 24,500 [1]
Owner Duchy of Cornwall
Operator Surrey County Cricket Club
Tenants Surrey County Cricket Club
End names
Pavilion End
Vauxhall End
International information
First Test 6-8 September 1880: England v Australia
Last Test 20-23 August 2015: England v Australia
First ODI 7 September 1973: England v West Indies
Last ODI 12 June 2015: England v New Zealand
First T20I 28 June 2007: England v West Indies
Last T20I 20 May 2014: England v Sri Lanka
Domestic team information
Surrey (1846 – present)
As of 28 August 2015
Source: Cricinfo

The Oval, currently known for sponsorship reasons as the Kia Oval, is an international cricket ground at Kennington, in the London Borough of Lambeth, South London. The Oval has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since it was opened in 1845. It is always referred to as "The Oval", and not "the Oval". It was the first ground in England to host international Test cricket in September 1880. The final Test match of the English season is traditionally played there.

In addition to cricket, it has hosted many other sporting occasions and can lay claim to being the most historically important general sports ground in the world. It staged the first FA Cup final in 1872 and was the home of the FA Cup final between 1874 and 1892. In 1870, it staged the first England football international, against Scotland. In 1876, it held the England v Wales and England v Scotland rugby internationals, and in 1877 rugby's first Varsity match.


  • History 1
  • End names 2
  • 21st century redevelopment 3
  • Football 4
    • First international football match 4.1
    • First FA Cup final 4.2
      • Results of FA Cup finals at The Oval 4.2.1
  • Rugby 5
  • Conferences and Events 6
  • Other events 7
  • Oval gasometer and gasworks 8
  • Transport connections 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The clock by the Members' entrance.

In 1844, Kennington Oval was a market garden. The Oval was then (and still is) owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Surrey County Cricket Club was established in 1845. The Duchy was willing to grant a lease of the land for the purpose of a cricket ground, and on 10 March 1845, the club signed a lease with the Otter Trustees, who held the land from the Duchy of Cornwall, 'to convert it into a subscription cricket ground', for 31 years at a rent of £120 per annum plus taxes (£20 more). The original contract for turfing The Oval cost £300; 10,000 grass turfs came from Tooting Common.

In 1868, 20,000 spectators gathered at The Oval for the first game of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England, the first tour of England by any foreign side. Thanks to C.W. Alcock, the Secretary of Surrey from 1872 to 1907, the first Test match in England was played at The Oval in 1880 between England and Australia. The Oval thereby became the second ground to stage a Test, after the MCG. In 1882, Australia won the Test by seven runs within two days. The Sporting Times printed a mocking obituary notice for English cricket, which led to the creation of the Ashes trophy, which is still contested whenever England plays Australia. The first Test double century was scored at The Oval in 1884 by Australia's Billy Murdoch.

Surrey's ground is noted as having the first floodlights at a sports arena, in the form of gas-lamps, dating to 1889.[2] The current pavilion was completed in time for the 1898 season.[3]

In 1907, South Africa became the 2nd visiting Test team to play a Test match at this venue. In 1928, West Indies played its first Test match at this venue followed by New Zealand in 1931. In 1936, India became the 5th foreign visiting Test side to play at The Oval, followed by Pakistan in 1954 and Sri Lanka in 1998. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are yet to play a Test match at the venue.

Cricket, WG Grace, 1891– Kennington Oval

The Oval is referenced by the poet Philip Larkin in his poem about the First World War, "MCMXIV".[4] During World War II, The Oval was requisitioned. Initially, it housed searchlights. It was then turned into a prisoner of war camp intended to be used for enemy parachutists, but since they never came it was never used.[5]

The first One Day International match at this venue was played on 7 September 1973 between England and West Indies. It hosted matches of the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999 World Cups. It also hosted five of the fifteen matches in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, including the final. The Oval once held the record for the largest playing area of any Test venue in the world. That record has since been surpassed by Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan, although The Oval remains the largest in Great Britain.

Billionaire Paul Getty, who had a great affinity for cricket and was at one time Surrey CCC President, built a replica of The Oval on his Wormsley Park estate.[6]

The famous gasholders just outside The Oval's wall are actually newer than the ground by several years, having been built around 1853. Now disused, there has been much speculation of late as to whether they should be demolished; however, many believe they are an integral part of The Oval's landscape and therefore their future looks secure.

End names

The North-western end of The Oval is known as the Vauxhall end, as Vauxhall station is situated just outside the grounds in this direction. The opposite end (South-east) is known as the Pavilion end, as it is the location of the members' pavilion.

21st century redevelopment

Surrey v Yorkshire (OCS stand in background)

At the end of the 2002 cricket season, Surrey started redeveloping the Vauxhall End. The development included knocking down the outdated Surridge, Fender, Jardine and Peter May north stands and creating in their place a single four tier grandstand, currently known as the OCS stand, as it is sponsored by Outsourced Client Solutions International Facilities Management Services. This work was completed in May 2005 and increased ground capacity to around 23,000.

In January 2007, Surrey announced plans to increase capacity by a further 2,000 seats, this time by redeveloping the Pavilion End. The Lock, Laker and Peter May south stands will be replaced with a new stand, which will have a hotel backing on to it. The Surrey Tavern at the entrance to the ground will be demolished and a new pedestrian plaza will be created in its place, improving access to the ground and opening up views of the historic pavilion. These plans were delayed by objections raised by the Health & Safety Executive as the ground is close to a gasometer. Planning permission was eventually granted, but not before the credit crunch struck. In 2009, permanent floodlights were installed for use in day/night matches. The floodlights are telescopic and are retracted when not in use.


The Oval was also an important site in the historical development of football, before the game had its own separate national stadium. Football had been played in this part of London for many years prior to the inauguration of The Oval: "The Gymnastic Society", arguably the world's first football club, met regularly at Kennington Common during the second half of the eighteenth century to play the game. [7]

First international football match

The Oval was home to the first ever international football match on 5 March 1870, The Football Association.[8][9] The game resulted in a 1–1 draw. Similar international matches between England and Scotland took place at The Oval in 1871, in February 1872 and 1873. On 8 March 1873, the England national team beat Scotland 4–2. England would continue to play occasionally at The Oval until 1889.

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.
Date Result Competition Winner
5 March 1870 1–1 Friendly Draw
19 November 1870 1–0 Friendly
25 February 1871 1–1 Friendly Draw
17 November 1871 2–1 Friendly
24 February 1872 1–0 Friendly
8 March 1873 4–2 Friendly
6 March 1875 2–2 Friendly Draw
3 March 1877 1–3 Friendly
5 April 1879 5–4 Friendly
12 March 1881 1–6 Friendly
21 March 1885 1–1 Home International Draw
13 April 1889 2–3 Home International

First FA Cup final

On 16 March 1872, The Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1–0 to win the first ever FA Cup. This final was notable for the Engineers' modern footballing style of teamwork rather than individual play.[10] C. W. Alcock, Secretary of The Football Association, was the prime mover of the competition. He had just become Secretary of Surrey, so that The Oval was the natural choice of venue for the final. Alcock also captained the successful Wanderers side. The Oval hosted all subsequent FA Cup finals (1873 excluded) up until 1892.

The Oval is one of two grounds (Bramall Lane in Sheffield being the other) to have staged both England football and cricket internationals, and also FA Cup finals. The Oval also hosted the second ever Rugby Union international between England and Scotland in 1872 (the first was hosted at Raeburn Place a year earlier).

Results of FA Cup finals at The Oval

Year Attendance Winner Runner-up Notes
1872 2,000 Wanderers 1 Royal Engineers 0
1874 2,000 Oxford University 2 Royal Engineers 0
1875 3,000 Royal Engineers 1 Old Etonians 1
Replay 3,000 Royal Engineers 2 Old Etonians 0
1876 3,500 Wanderers 1 Old Etonians 1
Replay 1,500 Wanderers 3 Old Etonians 0
1877 3,000 Wanderers 2 Oxford University 1
1878 4,500 Wanderers 3 Royal Engineers 1
1879 5,000 Old Etonians 1 Clapham Rovers 0
1880 6,000 Clapham Rovers 1 Oxford University 0
1881 4,500 Old Carthusians 3 Old Etonians 0
1882 6,500 Old Etonians 1 Blackburn Rovers 0
1883 8,000 Blackburn Olympic 2 Old Etonians 1
1884 12,000 Blackburn Rovers 2 Queen's Park 1
1885 12,500 Blackburn Rovers 2 Queen's Park 0
1886 15,000 Blackburn Rovers 0 West Bromwich Albion 0 2–0 in replay at Racecourse Ground, Derby
1887 15,500 Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
1888 19,000 West Bromwich Albion 2 Preston North End 1
1889 22,000 Preston North End 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
1890 20,000 Blackburn Rovers 6 Sheffield Wednesday 1
1891 23,000 Blackburn Rovers 3 Notts County 1
1892 32,810 West Bromwich Albion 3 Aston Villa 0


An illustration of an 1872 England vs Scotland rugby match. The background right shows the distinctive gas holder of The Oval

Between 1872 and 1879, The Oval held 7 full cap international rugby union matches, as follows:

Date Competition Home team Away team
5 February 1872  England 1G  Scotland 2G
23 February 1874  England 1G  Scotland 0G
15 February 1875  England 2G  Ireland 0G
6 March 1876  England 1G  Scotland 0G
5 February 1877 1877 Home Nations Championship  England 2G  Ireland 0G
4 March 1878 1878 Home Nations Championship  England 0G  Scotland 0G
24 Mar 1879 1879 Home Nations Championship  England 3G  Ireland 0G

On Wednesday 3 March 1875, The Oval held the final of the United Hospitals Challenge Cup, the oldest rugby union cup competition in the world.

Conferences and Events

As well as being an International Sporting Venue, The Oval has a conference and events business. The Corinthian Roof Terrace built on the OCS Stand in 2013 features panoramic views of the London skyline.

Other events

The ground has also hosted other events, including hockey fixtures and concerts.

The Oval has hosted exhibition matches for Australian rules football. The first such match was held between Carlton and a team of All-Stars in 1972.[11] In 2005, a record crowd for Australian rules football in England (18,884) saw the Fremantle Dockers defeat the West Coast Eagles. In 2012, approximately 10,000 were in attendance for a post-season exhibition match between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, which Port Adelaide won by 1 point.[12]

In October 2011, the ground served as the practice facility for the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Oval gasometer and gasworks

A nearby Victorian gasometer has marked the view from the grounds since the 1800s. A movement to preserve the iconic gasometers across Britain has emerged in recent years with the one visible from The Oval often cited as a landmark example. The skeletal but decorative structure is a landmark in the area, and has become part of The Oval's history and allure. The famed cricket commentator Henry Blofeld once said in a broadcast, "As the bowler runs in, it’s so quiet you can hear the creak of the gasometer." When plans to demolish the aging structure were announced in 2013, he stated “In comparison, pulling down the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace would be child’s play.”[13]

Transport connections

Service Station/Stop Lines/Routes served Directions
London Buses Oval Station Handicapped/disabled access 36, 185, 436 100 metres
Camberwell New Road Handicapped/disabled access 155, 333 200 metres[14]
Oval Station Handicapped/disabled access 155, 333 190 metres[15]
London Underground Oval 190 metres
Vauxhall 850 metres[16]
National Rail South West Trains

See also


  1. ^ "Kia Oval Website". 2015-07-31. 
  2. ^ Cricket's Strangest Matches, page 34, ISBN 1-86105-293-6
  3. ^ [2] Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "As if they were stretched outside The Oval or Villa Park..." Philip Larkin, "MCMXIV".
  5. ^ David Lemmon, The History of Surrey County Cricket Club, Christopher Helm, 1989, ISBN 0-7470-2010-8, p197.
  6. ^ "[Deathwatch] John Paul Getty II, billionaire, 70". 2003-04-17. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  7. ^ Football The First Hundred Years: The Untold Story by Adrian Harvey, Routledge 2005, page 54
  8. ^ "When and where was the first football match held?". The Times of India. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  9. ^ "A Sporting Nation – The first international football match". BBC. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  10. ^ "Details of the 1872 FA Cup Final" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  11. ^ Brown, Alf (30 October 1972). "Carlton won match, but not the English". The Herald (Melbourne). p. 24. 
  12. ^ "Port Adelaide wins AFL exhibition game against Western Bulldogs in London". 4 November 2012. 
  13. ^ Sean O'Hagan, Gasworks wonders…, The Guardian, 14 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Stop N to Lockwood House – Google Maps". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  15. ^ "Stop Q to Kennington Oval – Google Maps". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  16. ^ "S Lambeth Pl to Kennington Oval – Google Maps". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 

External links

  • Surrey Cricket web site
  • Cricinfo page on The Oval
  • Aerial view of The Oval at Google Maps
  • Annotated aerial photograph
  • Images of The Oval
Preceded by
FA Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Lillie Bridge
Preceded by
Lillie Bridge
FA Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by

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