West End Partisans have deemed their home field at Davies Park is too dangerous for soccer and they are playing most of their home games outside their suburb.

West End Football Club secretary Anne Carter says the conditions just aren’t playable, for their social soccer club.

“We’re basically a club without a home,” Ms Carter said.

Their home field is publicly accessible, used by people everyday for exercise, dog walking, golf, and countless other activities which mean that it’s ultimately overused.

The West End Partisans come from humble beginnings; founders kicking the football on a rugby field in 1994 decided to start a social league with permission from Souths Logan Magpies Rugby League to use their field two.

The club grew to involve women the next year, and now boasts six teams in 2021.

“It’s always been about community and about culture as well as playing football which I think is quite different to other clubs,” Ms Carter said.

But new developments and subsequent population increases have meant the fields are overused and damaged, and the club has been forced to rent other facilities outside their  suburb for their home games which has put a major strain on the foundations the club was built upon.

“I’ve broken my collarbone on that field and other people have had pretty bad injuries; it’s an overuse issue, the fields just aren’t in good condition for soccer,” Ms Carter said.

“Playing outside West End means that we don’t really get to come together as a club much anymore. People used to come to other team’s home games and bring their families and we’d have barbeques, but without a central location it feels like the club is sort of dissipating.”

Upgrading the field is expensive and the cost is out of reach for the club, so the club has instead been renting fields across Brisbane, including Perry Park in Bowen Hills, Griffith University sports fields at Nathan, and the football grounds at Acacia Ridge.

Souths Logan Magpies Rugby League Club, also based in Davies Park since 1908, faces the same issue with limited space. The park is leased by Souths from Brisbane City Council. 

CEO Jim McClelland said recent developments have affected his club’s growth.

“We used to run junior rugby league as well as senior rugby league but with the pressure on the greenspace we certainly can’t have juniors here anymore which is disappointing, but we work with other junior clubs throughout the southeast corridor right through to Logan,” Mr McClelland said.

Mr McClelland said there was an opportunity many years ago to acquire additional land for minimal cost but it was a lost opportunity to add to the greenspace footprint in Davies Park.

The issue isn’t merely one for West End either, it’s a much broader lack of accessible sports facilities in the inner city suburbs of Brisbane.

Greens Councillor for the Gabba Ward, Jonathan Sri, says the issue can be attributed to Council’s neglect to invest in sports facilities and greenspaces while the 4101 population increases with the influx of new developments.

“The real problem we have is that council is not putting enough money into the creation of new sports fields and new facilities as thousands of additional residents move into the 4101 postcode, with thousands more residents who are likely to move in over the coming years,” Cr. Sri said.

“With so many people living in apartments they don’t actually have much private space for recreation. A lot of kids are growing up without backyards, without spaces to play in, so public facilities become even more important for residents of high density housing.”

Freely accessible public facilities in West End includes the Davies Park soccer field, basketball court and skate bowl, a half basketball court in riverside drive, and the greenspace and a second half basketball court at Musgrave Park.

Other local facilities are not as accessible to the public, with the rowing sheds by the river in Davies Park leased to private schools which are not based in West End, as well as some community groups.

And Brisbane State High School manages the tennis courts attached to Musgrave Park Pool, which can only be accessed by the public outside school hours for a fee, but they’re too dark to be used in the evening, an issue Brisbane City Council is working on.

“The Council is trying to cram more and more usage onto existing fields rather than making new fields,” he said.

“Long term there won’t be enough space for residents to exercise within the peninsula, and we’re already seeing that problem with the West End Football Club, with no dedicated soccer field in the area.”

Cr Sri has proposed that the large industrial sites at the northern end of Montague Road should be rezoned as greenspaces and parklands to reduce the land value and make them more affordable for Council to purchase.

“There’s lots of sites which can be repurposed as sports facilities; the council or government should turn them into public parks and community sports fields. Indoor basketball, indoor soccer, indoor cricket, and smaller sites around South Brisbane could be redesigned as more compact sports facilities,” Cr. Sri said.

Cr Sri’s latest project is to create a skate park on riverside drive, and he said residents in support of the idea should email the Lord Mayor (lord.mayor@brisbane.qld.gov.au), telling him what facilities they want and reminding him the land will only get more expensive and now is the time to buy.

West End Football Club – Women’s Team