stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
The home of soccer in Parkes, which is Harrison Park, was named after hardworking local Ron Harrison. Although cricket has also been played on Harrison Park, it is the world’s most popular sport that is closely associated with the park named after Ronald Francis Arthur Harrison. The land that is now Harrison Park was previously known as Eugowra Road Reserve. The name was formally changed to Harrison Park on 25th September 1978 (Parkes Municipal Council, Meeting Minutes, 25th September 1978, Number 562). Prior to 1954 the land was under the jurisdiction of the Lands Department (now known as NSW Trade & Investments: Crown Land) until Parkes Municipal Council received from the Lands Department “…notifying proclamation as a public reserve of 9½ acres south of the Eugowra Road and advising that action will shortly be taken to appoint the Council trustee of this reserve.” (Parkes Municipal Council, Meeting Minutes, 11th May 1954, Number 641)
Two members of 2005 Australian Women’s Soccer team (aka The Matildas) attended a coaching clinic for local players. Joey Burgess was part of the Matildas squad for the 2007 Women’s World Cup, getting game time against Norway, Canada and Brazil (Source FIFA website).
In addition to soccer and cricket, Harrison Park is the starting point for the Annual Rotary Fun Run and on the ANZAC Day Public Holiday is the venue for Parkes Baptist Church’s family picnic.
Ronald Francis Arthur Harrison worked tireslessly for the community, especially in the area of sports administration. Ron was president of Parkes Rugby League club, and was also president of Group 11 in the Country Rugby League. In addition he also was inaugural principal of Parkes College of TAFE – remaining in that position from 1964 until 1984. Ron Harrison was a Rotarian, serving as president from 1977-1978. A keen fisherman, it was while on a fishing holiday in Dorrigo that Ron Harrison suddenly suffered a heart attack. Ron’s wife, Margaret, and his two daughters, Jeanette MacGregor and Kristine Nock all still reside in Parkes. Ron’s son, Robert, moved away to live in Port Macquarie where he still resides today.
Jeanette MacGregor, one of Ron Harrison’s daughters, stated to Parkes Library that in addition to Harrison Park, the training/warm up field near the Spacemen’s home ground (Pioneer Oval) is called Croaker Park. This is a reference to Ron Harrison’s nickname of “Croaker” due to his croaky voice. This means that Ron Harrison has the rare distinction of having two sporting fields named in his honour. Councillor Michael Greenwood remembers Ron Harrison with great affection. Together the two worked tirelessly on the Parkes Sports Council, which has been responsible for maintaining and upgrading the fantastic sporting facilities that the Parkes shire enjoys today. Ron Harrison was chairman of the Parkes Sports Council up until his death in 1985.
Ron Harrison’s many accomplishments include:
* principal of Parkes College of TAFE (now part of TAFE Western) from 1964 – 1984;
* alderman on Parkes Municipal Council for twelve years;
* an inaugural councillor on Parkes Shire Council;
* a delegate and chairman of the Central West County Council;
* long-serving president (1968 – 1985) and a life member of the Parkes Sports Council;
* life member of Parkes Rugby League Football Club;
* life member of Group 11 Rugby League;
* life member of Parkes District Junior Rugby League;
* keen member and former president of Parkes Rotary Club;
* director of Parkes Leagues Club;
* at the time of his death, chairman of the Parkes Bi-centenary Committee.
The annual Rotary Fun Run, which commences at Harrison Park and finishes at Northparkes Oval, has seen Australian Olympic athletes participating with enthusiastic locals. In 2014 the Rotary Fun Run had Lisa Corrigan and Youcef Abdi joining in.
Parkes Shire Library would like to thank Jeanette MacGregor, Margaret Harrison and Councillor Michael Greenwood for their permission to share stories, documents and photographs relating to Ron Harrison, OAM. In addition we would like to thank the staff at Parkes Champion Post for allowing us access to their archives in researching this post. If you have stories or memories that happened on Harrison Park, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be shared. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.