Lancaster Park was a friend of Canterbury sports lovers as early as 1881. Over the years it was transformed from a group of paddocks into a fine modern sports facility run professionally by full-time staff.
In its later years – before the 2011 earthquake – Jade Stadium and then AMI Stadium, as it became known, was mainly a football and cricket venue. But in its earlier days, Lancaster Park played host to a startling array of sports – 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 endured for well over a century.
The park also hosted circuses, band contests, fund-raising carnivals and fetes. Some world figures 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 were Tina Turner, U2, Billy Joel, B B King, Dire Straits.
Lancaster Park – An Illustrated History not only covers the variety of activities that took place at the ground, but also captured its unique character.
About the authors
Don Neely has been the author/editor of 30 books. Besides sport, two of his interests are New Zealand history and photography and Lancaster Park – An Illustrated History combines them. Don was a New Zealand cricket selector for 14 years (seven as convener) and later became chairman of the New Zealand Cricket Museum.
Joseph Romanos has been a sports journalist since 1975. During that time he has worked principally for The Evening Post, The Dominion, the New Zealand Listener magazine, The Wellingtonian and The Dominion-Post. Joseph is currently a columnist for several daily newspapers and has a weekly comment segment on Radio Sport. He also makes regular appearances for Radio New Zealand. This was his 36th book.