The sheer size of the abandoned Balmain Tigers League Club is not obvious to the outside eye. Step inside and you will find yourself in a fascinating maze of offices, bars, shower rooms and secret corridors leading to different basement sections. The labyrinthine rooms and passages are completely covered in graffiti, walls are smashed in and rubble covers the floor everywhere.
Access into this building is very easy and via the car park.
Who are the Balmain Tigers?
The Balmain Tigers, also known as the Sydney Tigers in 1995-96, is a rugby league club originally from Balmain, inner-western Sydney. A founding member of the New South Wales Rugby League, they had a remarkable history with eleven titles. In 1999, they merged with the Western Suburbs Magpies to create the Wests Tigers, competing in the National Rugby League (NRL). Presently, they no longer have senior teams in lower divisions. Their home grounds are Leichhardt Oval in Lilyfield and T.G Milner Sportsground in Marsfield.
The History of the Balmain Tigers League Club
Established in 1908 as a founding club in Australia’s inaugural rugby league season, Balmain Tigers League Club holds a distinguished place in the sport’s history. The club, boasting prestigious founders including future New South Wales Premier John Storey, emerged as one of nine foundation clubs in Sydney. Birchgrove Park served as their initial home ground.
In its early years, Balmain quickly earned its iconic nickname, “The Tigers,” owing to the distinctive black and gold stripes adorning their jerseys from 1908. Despite a tumultuous start, the club protested a Grand Final scheduling issue in their second year, establishing their competitive spirit. Balmain’s dominant era arrived during 1915 to 1920, securing three consecutive premierships and asserting their prominence in the Australian Rugby League.
A Golden Era ensued post-World War II, with five Grand Final appearances in the late 1940s and early 1950s. However, they contended with the formidable St. George Dragons, who dominated the period. In 1969, Balmain achieved a triumphant victory, marking their last Grand Final success.
The 1980s and 1990s witnessed consistent playoff appearances, showcasing Balmain’s resilience. The 1988 Grand Final saw a memorable display, yet victory eluded them in a controversial loss to Canterbury. Despite subsequent finals appearances, Balmain faced challenges, leading to a rebuilding phase in the 1990s.
Amid financial struggles and a changing rugby league landscape, Balmain merged with Western Suburbs Magpies in 1999 to form the Wests Tigers. This transition marked the end of Balmain’s independent top-grade journey, but their legacy endured through the joint venture, culminating in a 2005 NRL Grand Final triumph.
Today, Balmain Tigers League Club persists in junior New South Wales Rugby League competitions, while the former Balmain Leagues Club site represents a significant part of their history.