Lancaster Park, the scene of bitter memories for Lions

In this May 24, 2017 photo, weeds grow on what was the playing pitch at the 2011 earthquake damaged Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones. From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
This May 24, 2017 photo, shows the ticket sales office outside of the 2011 earthquake damaged AMI Stadium (formerly Lancaster Park) in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this May 24, 2017 photo, workmen inspect locked rooms at the 2011 earthquake damaged AMI Stadium (formerly Lancaster Park) in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this May 24, 2017 photo, workmen inspect locked rooms at the 2011 earthquake damaged AMI Stadium (formerly Lancaster Park) in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
This May 24, 2017 photo, shows the 2011 earthquake damaged playing pitch at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this May 24, 2017 photo, workmen carry equipment out of the 2011 earthquake damaged AMI Stadium (formerly Lancaster Park) in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this May 24, 2017 photo, workmen carry equipment out of the 2011 earthquake damaged AMI Stadium (formerly Lancaster Park) ahead of it's demolition later in the year in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this May 24, 2017 photo, a shopping trolly is parked outside the 2011 earthquake damaged Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
This May 28, 2017 photo, shows the earthquake damaged Lancaster Park on the skyline in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
FILE - In this June 25, 2005 file photo, the British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll, centre, stands with his teammates as they watch the All Blacks perform a haka prior to the start of the first rugby union test at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
FILE - In this June 25, 2005 file photo, British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll reacts in pain as he is taken from the field injured during the first rugby union test against the All Blacks at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones. From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
FILE - In this June 25, 2005 file photo, British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll reacts in pain as he is taken from the field injured during the first rugby union test against the All Blacks at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
FILE - In this June 27, 2005 file photo, injured British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll walks along a street near his team hotel in Wellington, New Zealand. For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones. From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — For the British and Irish Lions, most memories of Christchurch's Lancaster Park are bitter ones.

From their first appearance there in 1930, when they lost 13-10, to their most-recent in 2005, when they beaten 21-3, the 38,000 stadium in the east of the South Island city was seldom a venue of success.

The Lions have won only one of nine tests against the All Blacks in Christchurch; in 1977 when their 13-9 victory could not prevent a 3-1 series defeat.

Not even the 1971 squad, which remains the only Lions team to have beaten New Zealand in a test series in New Zealand, could not win at Lancaster Park, losing 22-12 before winning the four-test series 2-1.

The Lions' last appearance on Lancaster Park 12 years ago was perhaps the most bitter of all. The first test of that year's three-match series took place in almost Arctic cold when Lancaster Park was lashed by a freezing gale which whipped up sleet and snow.

Less than two minutes into the match Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll was caught in a pincer tackle by All Blacks captain Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu, lifted and heavily slammed into the ground. He dislocated his shoulder and did not play again on tour. The optimism of that Lions team, which went on to lose the test series 3-0, seemed to dissipate in that moment.

The 2017 Lions arrive in New Zealand on Wednesday and will play one of their 10 tour matches in Christchurch — against Super Rugby's Crusaders — but they will not play at Lancaster Park. In February, 2011 the 6.3 magnitude earthquake which hit the city at lunchtime on a busy working day, claiming the lives of 185 people, ended Lancaster Park's long and proud history as a sporting venue.

The quake carved wide fissures in the playing surface and caused irreparable damage to its Deans and Hadlee grandstands, named for two of Christchurch's most famous sporting families. The stadium could not be saved; major rugby matches in Christchurch have since been played at the much smaller AMI Stadium, though plans have been drawn up for a new, indoor stadium close to the existing site.

The Lions who will play the Crusaders at AMI Stadium on June 10 will likely hear much of Lancaster Park and of its significance in previous visits to New Zealand. They are unlikely to forget the events of 2005.

In happier times, Lancaster Park was witness to great sporting events and achievements. Opened in 1881, it hosted cricket, rugby union, rugby league, football and tennis ... in 1911 a combined Australasian team defeated the United States there to retain the Davis Cup.

In 1930 it hosted New Zealand's first-ever cricket test — against England — and in 1990 Christchurch-born Richard Hadlee claimed his then record 400th test wicket there.

___

AP Sports Writer Steve McMorran contributed from Wellington, New Zealand.

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