Fitzroy’s Demons

Whenever a team begins to struggle greatly these days, the tired old comparison is pulled out by all and sundry…they’re as bad as Fitzroy! It seems that the only time the poor old Roys are brought up in the media is to compare their non-competitive final two seasons with whoever is struggling at the time. It’s become the ultimate slur on a club….you’re as bad as Fitzroy.

This is grossly unfair. Fitzroy’s life as a league club should be remembered as a whole. They even have the 1895 VFA flag to their names, a year before the big split which saw the VFL breakaway from the old Associatoin; Fitzroy being one of the rogue clubs. When the club won the 1922 premiership, they led all comers in the ‘flag race.’ They were the first team to win back to back flags (1898-99) and even boasted two elegant grandstands at their home ground on Brunswick St. They were well to do, the big boys.

1905 Roy boys

Fitzroy FC-1905, a year where the Roys won their 4th flag in the 9th year of VFL. Including Fitzroy’s 1895 VFA flag, at that time the premier competition in Victoria, Fitzroy claimed 5 flags in an 11 year window. They were a power. Image courtesy of PIcture Victoria

Despite some reports, Kevin Murray wasn’t the only player to pull on a Fitzroy guernsey before colour television came along. Some of the absolute champions of the game are Maroons, Gorillas, Lions and Royboys. Chicken Smallhorn, Bunton Snr, Butch Gale and Alan Ruthven to name a few. In fact the Fitzroy Team of the Century would take some beating from even the biggest clubs in town and nation wide.

The Roys popped up to win the 1944 flag at the Junction Oval, but the premierships ceased. The battle for survival began in earnest as the club left Brunswick St Oval for the 1965 season. Was this the beginning of the end, or had that already occurred? No one can really know. However an unstable home ground situation (Princess Park, Junction Oval, Victoria Park, Princess Park again, Western Oval and a toe dip at North Hobart and Bruce Stadium in Canberra) and a declining supporter base, intwined with intense financial hardships, is what got the Roys in the end.

It’s the Melbourne Football Club who have been brought to the feet Fitzroy’s final years for comparison of late. Equally a proud club who once stood at the top of the tree, the Demons struggle of late has not been easy. However they’ve had more ‘ups’ than the Roys did in my living memory, but this slump looks to be fairly serious.

Former Fitzroy coach Robert Shaw recently lashed out at the comparison, stating that it “is a slight on Fitzroy. The one thing they had was fight, right up to the last minute.”

Roy boy

Let’s look at some statistics of Fitzroy’s final two seasons, when the bottom really fell out and they unfortunately ceased to be competitive. But then we’ll add some context.

The Lions played in 44 matches (1995-6) winning just 3, meaning they won 6.82 % of those games. Looking at Melbourne last year and so far this year, (not including matches against the development sides GWS and Gold Coast) has seen them play 25 matches, winning just 4% of those.

-Fitzroy’s average score for seasons 1995-6 was 69.75 while the Dees in 2012-13 are averaging 66.08. Defensively the Roys conceded an average of 129.9 points, Melbourne 120.1 points.

-Fitzroy’s percentage over their two final seasons was 53.7%, Melbourne’s for seasons 2012-13 thus far sits at 55.03%. The numbers are stacking up neatly.

While the similarities in score lines are apt, the context is far different. Fitzroy knew the end was coming, they just weren’t exactly sure of when or how. Melbourne is in no such state as yet, with mergers not on the agenda and relocations not spoken of seriously since North nearly headed north.

Shaw put it like this. “I think the comparisons are wrong. This is a club with high draft picks. We never had any of those…they weren’t good enough, but they never lost their ability to compete with spirit and for the jumper.

Yes, there’s been somewhat of a player exodus at Melbourne. Tom Scully opted out and the club has lost McLean, Rivers and Moloney, while former Dees Scott Thompson and Darren Jolly have been getting a kick elsewhere for some time now. But it pales into insignificance when compared to the ‘heart and soul’ which was ripped out of Fitzroy in their final years. Consider the former Fitzroy players playing elsewhere during seasons 1995 and 1996, and what could have been for the Roys.

FITZROY 95 & 96

Ruck position aside (feel free to jump in if I’ve forgotten anyone) it is a formidable line up. Imagine if youngsters Brad Boyd, Jarrod Molloy, Chris Johnson, Matthew Primus, John Barker and not so young Martin Pyke could have learned their craft alongside the leadership of Roos, Osborne and Lynch instead of having to lead themselves? Look at the spine or Pert, Roos, Broderick, Osborne and Lynch?

While a number of these players were nearing the end of their careers, it highlights the un-fillable hole from which Fitzroy could never recover; players they couldn’t afford to keep, yet without them they couldn’t compete. A vicious cycle. The Dees have been able to go out and attract key forwards Mitch Clarke and Chris Dawes. Fitzroy on the other hand gave Richmond half of it’s list for a tired Jeff Hogg.

So how do I remember Fitzroy? As fighters against the odds. For lifting themselves during the 1980’s for one last unsuccessful tilt at a flag, for the fans and club officials fighting for the club’s survival again and again, for leaving no stone unturned. I remember two loud and foul mouthed supporters shouting themselves horse behind us at Princess Park one day and I remember the kids Bamford and Carter busting their guts to little avail in the final two years of this proud club.

Roy boy burger

Staunch

I can see a brave Brad Boyd lining up for Victoria in the Lions penultimate year, and I see the cheer squad banner spitting venom at the AFL after being forced to merge with Brisbane. I remember their fans being few but boisterous. They also won their final quarter of league football in a far off land to the west. Or east, if you keep on going that way.

And of course Fitzroy are back where they started this whole footballing caper back in 1883 at the BRUNSWICK ST OVAL, having fought back yet again so once more they can kick the pig skin in anger, this time around in the VAFA. For what it’s worth, the Melbourne Football Club are still kicking around on that old paddock of theirs too after all these years. Long may it continue.

Brunswick St 2

Carn’ the Roys! Go the Dees!

Home movie-Richmond v St.Kilda from 1990 (thanks grandpa!)

As I was looking through some old videos lying about the house, I stumbled across some of my grandpa Harold’s finest work from the year 1990, when as a family, we headed (with friends) to the MCG for the round 12 clash between the Tiges and the Saints. This was before my little brother Pete had become a Footscray follower, so there’s some rare footage of him in yellow and black, bouncing on my mother’s knee.

Footy Vid

About to leave for the footy with our Richmond supporting friends. I am extreme left, my sister right. Behind sat our mode of transport that day, the rusty old Kingswood

As fate would have it, my mother also had her camera on the go this day, so our expedition was documented in far greater detail than usual. In fact one of my earliest posts was of a photograph taken this round 12 clash.

One of the intriguing aspects of the video is the dismantling of the old Southern Stand. As you can see, the roof was being removed, the Richmond cheer squad shunted around to the wing for a portion of the year.

Also worth looking out for is Michael Mitchell’s sensational goal at the 2 min 50 sec mark, yours truly taking great pride in his flag at 5:56, and the Richmond supporter being escorted from the ground by the police at 6:10. There are many other gems such as the prevalence of Sweathog apparel and cigarette smoke, both severely lacking from the modern game.

Fam vid 22

To the left is grandpa Harold in his Essendon beanie, video camera in hand

Footy with mum

First published on nickmaxwell.com.au

“Go Matthew!”

As a child, each football season saw many family outings to the footy. While my father was kept busy bellowing “Chewy on ya boot” and “He’s been doing it all day” after two minutes of play, my mum stuck with what she knew best. “Go Matthew!”

Why Matthew? As Richmond’s two dominant players during the 1990’s were Matthews’ Richardson and Knights, (throw in Rogers), there was a fair chance that yelling “Go Matthew” would prove correct. However if truth be told, Wayne Campbell and Nick Daffy received their fair share of my mothers “Go Matthews’!” during the 1990’s!

Going to the footy with mum meant routine. We did venture to other grounds, but the majority of matches meant sitting behind the goals at the Punt Road End of the MCG.

As the reserves kicked the dew from the field, mum would fossick around in her KFC lunch bag to produce a Tupperware container full of neatly cut triangular sandwiches. Vegemite, Cheese, Stras and sauce. We’d enviously look on as other kids munched on meat pies, chips and hot dogs… but as a parent, I now understand that in order to eat this way at the footy, you need to take out a small loan.

MUM footy

Mum gleefully saucing a pie, pre ‘taking kids to the footy,’ when the pies dried up and the cut sandwiches were plentiful. (KB’s 400th-1983) 

Next, the thermos would surface. Rightly or wrongly, we were all tea drinkers from an early age, and tea was passed along the line, ceremoniously, in colourful plastic mugs. More tea was reserved for half time.

When barracking, mum hated it when we booed. I clearly remember getting told off for booing Mil Hanna in a 1990 encounter.

“Just cheer your team… you don’t have to boo the opposition!”  Wrong mum. There are times where you must “boo” the opposition. Visualise Steven Milne or Darren Bewick kicking the winning goal against your team from a dubious free kick? I think restricting yourself to boo’s would actually be the polite thing to do!

Another thing that upset mum was littering. Now I didn’t litter often, and understood that it wasn’t a great thing to be doing. But I was not adverse to dropping my used goods on the ground at the footy.

“John, pick that up!” cried mum.

“Mum, they PAY people to tidy up at the footy, there’s rubbish everywhere!”

I’m not sure that we ever really resolved that one?

But it wasn’t just going to the footy where mum got involved.

There was the tiger birthday cake she made for my fifth birthday, followed by my football field cake the following year. My brother, who follows Footscray, had what was surely the worlds’ one and only “Tony Liberatore” birthday cake, pictured here. Nice work mum. Together, my brother and I must have had four or five football themed birthday parties during our formative years. Luckily however, mum had a daughter whom she could lavish fairy parties and the like upon, but I get the feeling my sister may have also been up for the odd football birthday celebration!

Mum also taught us about courage in football, hobbling to the very top of the great southern stand with a walking stick, having torn her calf muscle to witness Richmond’s final against North in 1995, the first time we’d played finals since 1982! Though mum barracks for Essendon, you’d hardly know it from flicking through our family photo albums. She certainly has a soft spot for the family team!

It’s fair to say that mum jumps into life itself with great passion, and football’s the same. If mum watches a game, she gets emotionally involved to the point of needing a simmer down chair at times. However, she can contradict this passion by spending other game days reading a book or gardening! She’s one of the few footy supporters upset that this year sees Better Homes and Gardens superseded by live footy on a Friday night!

To finish off, there are some things I need to clear up and apologise for over the years.

Number one– my deepest apologies for savagely cutting back one of your trees in order to provide more space in the forward pocket of my backyard footy ground.

I’m well and truly out of home now, and you can tell because there lies a veggie patch in what was once the half forward flank! The price of progress! But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the removal of the lemon tree and clothes line from centre half forward have certainly opened up the central corridor!

Number two- sorry for all the breakages involved with my mine and my brothers’ indoor football matches; fiercely fought spectacles that they were. Now it could have been a lot worse had our skill level not been so high, but there was the odd glass, ornament, photo frame and ego smashed!

Number three- Now this is a big one, sorry for using your expensive material to make me and my mates’ “It’s the Night of Knights” banner to take to the footy! The said material had been sitting in the cupboard for as long as I cared to remember, however it was clearly a big mistake. Mum used her great “passion for life” to explain to me in no uncertain terms that I had erred in my judgement! And as fate would have it, the material turned out to be navy blue and not black anyway! Serves me right!

Number four- Sorry for all of my dummy spits, cursing and general anti-social behaviour as a result of football matches that you had to deal with. I guess I share your “passion for life!” I could certainly be hard to control at footy as a boy, with numerous “This is the last time we’re coming to the footy!” threats waved about. And if Richmond lost, I’d often sulk the whole trip home, be it car or train! And we lost a lot!

It would be remiss of me to not mention one mothers day in particular, however it centres not around my mother, but a game of footy. I guess that’s apology number five!

I speak of what is known at Richmond as the “Mothers Day Massacre”, when Richmond defeated reining premier Collingwood in 1991; Jeff Hogg the star booting 10 goals as the Tigers flew to a stunning 10-goal victory at a Southern Stand-less MCG.

I remember it vividly as I watched it at a family ‘mothers day’ gathering, where the grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins in attendance were one of two things, Richmond or Collingwood! It is oft said that both clubs supporters are ‘cut from the same cloth’, and my family is living proof!

Mothers Day 1991

My account at the time of Mothers Day 1991, my teacher was a Tiger too!

So to all the mothers out there, have a great day on Sunday, and remember that without mothers there would be no footballers, meaning no . . . football! And to my mother, thanks for adding a great colour to our families footballing traditions and folklore, and more importantly to mine!

Happy Mothers Day!!!

ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day. A time to remember those that have fought to defend Australia and New Zealand. A time also to consider conflicts, both past and ongoing, the world over. Let’s make no mistake, ANZAC Day is a day of reflection, of mourning, of national pride. There’s a football match played on ANZAC Day, but it is important that this does not define the day itself. I see it more along the lines of how ‘two-up,’ a gambling game played by soldiers in World War 1, is played on the 25th of April. Both are pastimes the diggers used to employ.

To support this notion, I want to share some family photographs which have come to light in recent times. They feature Maurice Cronin jnr, my great grandfather (and Richmondite) during his world war 1 service, largely in France. There are photos of his battalion, of he and other soldiers waiting at various train stations and of he and his fellow countrymen in football gear.

I never met my great grandfather but have dim recollections of his wife, ‘little nana,’ as we called her. He survived the war, although dad says that he never spoke of it. The toll of war on youth must have been profound. Football, on the other hand, seems to have served as a form of distraction or release. Perhaps even fun.HB football team franceHere’s the ‘Army Team.’ Just who they played against I am not sure. The Airforce? Maurice is back row, 4th from the left, a wry grin upon his face.

HB Maruice FranceInterestingly, the rear of the photograph contains the rank and surname of each player. It seems as if each could have staked a claim to be in the leadership group. I have begun researching to see whether any football players of note are in this photograph, and any help would be appreciated.
HB Back of France football photo

Here is a second photo which again is simply labelled ‘Army Team.’ Where they were playing is not noted, however the appearance of a trophy indicates this group must have won some form of competition. My great grandfather is standing back row, 2nd from the right. There are no names attached to this photograph, but again, any help in recognising who may be who would be greatly appreciated.

hb army team 2

HB Cronin crewhe battalion of which Maurice Cronin was a part. He is in the middle row, 9th from the right.

To me, a game of football on Anzac Day is a nice touch. We will also see history made as the first ever AFL match for points will be played outside of this country in New Zealand, with whom we marched to war. What they make of the game is anyones guess, but it’s a nice gesture all the same.

But the day is certainly not about football. It’s about remembering the young men and women who bravely headed to war, many never to return. It’s thinking about the people who were left at home, who lost loved ones, whether that be literally or emotionally. It’s thinking of those who are serving us now, whatever your stance on war be. I’m currently working in a school with a large percentage of students who have been displaced and affected by war. War is a global problem from which we are largely untouched. Long may we provide safety to those in need.

Lest we forget 

HB Post Card back

A brief history of Australian football in wartime

Check this recently released footage of Australian soldiers playing footy in London, 1916.

The day I saw the Tigers win the flag

VFL Park 1989I can hear the questions in your head. A Richmond flag? At VFL Park? Something’s not quite right. In fact the year I’m focusing on is 1989, when my beloved Tigers won the wooden spoon, barely seeing out the following year, 1990, due to hemorrhaging finances. But there was a ray of sunshine, a light at the end of the tunnel. The 1980’s are bookmarked with Richmond premierships.

Yes that’s right, we won the under 19’s flag!

Boots Rich v NM record 1

The game was meant to be played as the first of three matches on arguably the most famous grand final day of them all, when Ablett thrilled us with his wizardry, Brereton with his courage and the Hawks with their tenacity to make it back-to-back flags. However the Richmond under 19’s played a draw in the finals series which back then meant coming back the following weekend to resolve differences, meaning that on grand final day, the curtain raiser to the main event was in fact the under 19’s preliminary final.

As you can see below, the record noted ‘…the one sad thing is that there will not be the build up to a 95,000 crowd to watch the skills of these brilliant youngsters.’

BOOT RECORD COMPILE

And so it was that 10,000 fans headed out to Waverley Park the following weekend, of which around 9,500 wore yellow and black. I was there with my family, and as an added extra my nana and pa were there too, the only game I ever went to with them. As I have mentioned before in these pages, they were a huge influence on my love of Richmond. Here’s a shot of yours truly with my nana and pa in their Forest Hill home, pa with his Tip Top work gear on.

Nana and pa tip tops

I also look back on the day fondly because, unwittingly, it would be my first sighting of Stuey Maxfield, a favourite of mine, in a Tiger guernsey. He wore number 9 that day and was one of a handful to go on to wear the yellow and black in the seniors. Ash Prescott, Matt Francis and Ty Esler the other notables.

A look through North’s under 19’s list is also interesting, in particular Brad Sholl and Anthony Stevens, whilst Glenn Kilpatrick would also carve out a nice little career down at Geelong. Oh, and the North coach of the day turned out to be pretty handy also! Given North had won the two previous under 19 grand finals, this result was all the more pleasing.

What a great institution the under 19’s was. North used it to perfection, with many of their 1996 and 1999 premiership team having come up through the junior ranks. It’s now just a distant memory.

Not one passage of play remains with me from that day, but I can chalk it down as having seen a Richmond premiership, in the flesh. The only memories I have are that we entered via the members wing which we’d never done before, that we walked into the ground alongside Mil Hanna, where we sat (members wing-ooh ahh!) and a kick on the ground after the match. I also remember sitting in nana and pa’s old falcon post match on our way back to their house for dinner.

Rich v NM 1989 score

Tiger fans celebrated that day like no other club would celebrate an under 19’s grand final win. Though our last flag was only 9 years prior to this, the club was really down and out, a shell of our ruthless self. Little did we know that we’d still be waiting for a senior flag some 24 year later!

Cory Young of Richmond was named as Richmond’s best on ground. Tiger fans foamed at the mouth about Cory Young, much like the way Justin Plapp became a cult hero down at Punt Road in the reserves. Having played seniors in the final 3 rounds of 1989, Young came back to the under 19’s for the finals, helping the Tiges lift the premiership cup on the first Saturday in October.

Alas, Young never kicked on, playing just 4 more league games, three at Tigerland and one for West Coast. He did however win a Liston Trophy in the VFA with the old Oakleigh footy club, so the kid could play.

boot-records-1989These lists make for some interesting reading, Peter Filandia the most notable player in the goal-kicking list!

  I’m still waiting to see another Tiger flag, a reserves win over Hawthorn in 1997 all that now keeps me going.  But back to that glorious day of which I have little to no memory, and what better way to conclude a day at the footy than with a kick on the spacious playing surface of VFL Park.

Glorious

WAVERLEY 2323

My dad is just inside the boundary line wearing a red top and jeans. Directly in front of him is my sister and about 10 metres to his left is a little me, waiting for the ball to come my way

NOTE-This was the last official match under the Victorian Football League (VFL) banner, the league changing to the Australian Football League (AFL) the following year. This does not include any exhibition matches which may have been played at the Oval in London! And thanks to @Crankie82 on twitter for help on the final score, and @footyjumpers for finding the grab from the Age. VFL Park photos taken by my mum.

Footy Drawings: the sights, the colour, the smells

HB drawing 7

The above drawing was done by my five year old hand back in 1986. I was obviously enamoured with my new love football. As you can see, mum has carefully labeled the main features of my ‘work’, and this really highlights what first captured my imagination when it came to the footy.

And that’s what this post is all about. Just what was it that grabbed your attention when you first visited a footy ground, smelt a leather footy or opened your first packet of footy cards. Does your first trip to the MCG remain with you until this day?

HB prep footy

And what of today’s kids? Does footy still fill their senses and leave them entranced? Is it fantasy footy or some other new fangled technological advancement which captures imaginations these days? Or is it much the same as it was for us slightly older footy fans; the colours, sights and smells?

The following is the result of putting the word out there for any old footy drawings people may still have lying about, to give an indication of why people fell in love with the game. I was also keen and happy to receive a number drawings from kids growing up with football today.

@MicLooby Swans

Goodsey, Confetti and Cup

Let’s kick it off with one of the more recent pics sent to me by @MicLooby on twitter. It is his 6 year old daughter’s 2012 grand final week ‘premonition’ of how events would unfold on the Saturday, and let’s just say that she nailed it! Simply a jubilant Adam Goodes, the premiership cup and a plethora of red and white confetti! It’s also a great attempt at the Sydney jumper, which is no where near as easy to draw as the regular stripes, sashes and hoops!

HB drawing 10

This was a picture my little brother Pete did after we attended a Footscray v Richmond match in 1993. As a 6 year old Doggie he sat there in tears early as his Dogs fell behind, but my Tigers crumbled and the result is his ‘happy’ memory of the days events. What I particularly love is how high the Richmond sock is travelling.HB drawing atoshaThis magnificent pic was sent to me on twitter by @atosha, and there’s so much to like about it! We can see a beautifully crafted Essendon man (Tim Watson) peeking out from behind the quintessential hooky board, although I’ve been assured that behind the cheesy smile, her Richmond supporting brother would have at some stage ripped ‘Essendon man’ to shreds. Typical Richmond supporters!

Dave combine

This drawing is by the fair hand of @TheIron_Sock, and dates back to the late 70’s when North and Collingwood featured in a classic drawn grand final. Unperturbed by Collingwood’s subsequent loss, young David depicted a North and Collingwood player sharing a kick to kick, smiles on faces, the sun out. And check out the intricate boot and lace work, along with the North players balanced kicking style.
Dave Pie

To contrast that picture we have a far more recent contribution from @RedRoverSays, this drawn by her 7 year old son and serving as her twitter profile picture for quite some time. I like the understated nature of the sponsors badge on the playing guernsey, the piercing blue eyes and the ginger-bread man quality this player possesses. It is in fact ol’ blue-eyed Jobe Watson.
HB Rach

Continuing the close up profiles, we have another glorious picture sent to me on twitter by @4boat of his youngest sons drawing…of him! Given that his younger son isn’t into footy, this really meant a lot to him. Unfortunately the arms were copied from an old photo of Aaron Fiora, but I’ve been assured they are not an accurate depiction! I also love the tailored pants and shoes.

@4Boat

Now this next drawing is one of my favourites. It was again sent to me by @4Boat, this time by his eldest son. Now I grew up with footy cards, but at best they had a photo on the front, a few stats on the back and came with a piece of chewing gum! What we see here however, in great detail, is todays footy card and the statistical footy world that our kids are growing up with. I particularly love his take on Nick Malceski; his face reminiscent of a 1930’s cigarette card.

@4Boat kids cards

Speaking of detail, here’s a small glimpse into my brother’s mind. He went on a logo rampage, covering off on AFL, VFA, SANFL, Eastern Footy League, even our primary school’s nemesis, Blackburn Lake! I think he was joking with the Peninsula Dolphins…at least I hope!

HB drawings 6

Here’s another hopeful piece I drew as a kid, obviously trying to tap into movie ‘Field of Dreams’ theory of ‘draw it and it may happen!’ It’s Richmond taking on West Coast in the Panasonic Cup grand final at Waverley Park. What I love is that most of the spectators in the stands are further away yet considerably larger than the players!HB drawings 5

Continuing with drawings of footy action, here’s a great drawing sent to me by Mero, (@footyjumpers) who runs the comprehensive footy jumpers website (check my blogroll.) Drawn back in 1979, these are the grand finalists in his ‘dice footy’ game; this the winning goal. It’s Collingwood’s Billy Picken looking to smother, and most likely Glen Hawker about to cover himself in glory.

Mero also tells me, and I think we can all relate, that the mud applied to the players was courtesy of mum’s eyeliner, also known as his ‘mud pencil!’

Hawker & Picken

Fast forward through the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s and we arrive at a drawing of Pie star Dane Swan by 7 year old Aven. Sent to me on twitter by his father and Pie nut @M_itch, I was really taken by the accuracy of the body proportions and stance. By 7 I’d just graduated from stick figures! And another tick for the young man, he’s forgone the club jumper sponsors! Expect a phone call from Eddie McGuire, Aven!

@M_itch 2

The above picture was printed for safe keeping onto canvas, whilst we continue with another clever way of immortalising your child’s artwork, some more magpie artwork by Aven, with Cloke and Swan clearly the stars in his eyes.HB Mitch Aven

Now we come to one of the more spectacular parts of footy and one which the artistic eye can really have some fun with; the speckie!

We’ll kick off with some of ‘brother Pete’s’ little ‘speckie sketches’ he doodled as a boy. The top left shows a sensational pack mark, complete with a melee breaking out on the wing. We move clockwise to find a most sensational grab taken over the pack, but I’d like to draw your focus on the player on the left. Could it be Nick Holland and his dodgy shoulders? And finally, bottom left, we have the iconic Gary Ablett v Melbourne FC pack mark from 1989.

HB Pete conglomorate

Here’s one I drew back in 1990. It’s a little confused, but what I think I’ve done is take Michael Mitchell’s mark of the year against Fitzroy, and substituted the Roys for Melbourne. Why? I can’t say. I can tell you that David Cloke is looking lost in the middle of the ground while Jimmy Stynes (11) and Mark Lee (1) are moving towards the contest. I love the desperation of the Melbourne player trying to smother, whilst apologies to Michael Pickering (dunny brush haircut, no.35) and Craig Lambert (no.4) for their rather ‘plump’ appearances.HB drawing 1One of the best mark of all time, Shaun Smith’s 1995 screamer at the Gabba, was beautifully depicted again by ‘brother Pete’ (@carr_pete) in this unfinished drawing. Though goal umpires are to remain neutral and unphased by the play, this umpire can’t hide his reaction to seeing Smith’s bird-like feat. HB drawing 12

Keeping with aerial feats of magnificence, this painting was sent to me by Sean depicting Merv Hobbs iconic mark in the 1961 preliminary final. Sean, a Dogs supporter, was 10 at the time of painting (2010) and was stuck for something to paint. His dad suggested this mark (great parenting in my opinion) and the rest is history. Sean also points out the Merv Hobbs ran a printing business in Williamstown for many years called ‘High-Mark Printing.’ I think we can see why!

MervHobbsBuddyMerve Hobbs       Danny Hargrave!

Merv Hobbs mark on the left, and a similar style mark covered in a recent post!

Finally we turn our attention to footy grounds, stadia, the crowds. Below is a picture done by my daughter Molly, 6, just a few weeks back, simply of ‘the football.’ Note the gorgeous placement of the light towers, whose globes look much like the heads in the crowd. This is Richmond verses ‘Poo-ingwood’ as she at times calls them.

HB drawings Mol

Here’s a collection of footy ground drawings I churned out in the mid 90’s. Top left must have been drawn after we’d ended up in the nose bleed section of the Southern Stand, when you could still look across and see the city. To the right we have what was a made up ground, which on reflection looks a little like York Park down in Launceston. And below that is one of MANY footy grounds I ‘designed’ full of little nooks and crannies, pokie stands and at times, architectural impossibilities.HB Footy Grounds

Now I had nearly finished putting this post together when I received an innocuous email from Jeff Dowsing, wondering if I was still after football drawings. ‘Sure’ I said, but I can’t say I was prepared for what I received.

Jeff sent through 16 detailed drawings he drew during the late 80’s whilst in year 7 and 8. I’m only sharing the ‘best of the best’ here, although I encourage you to visit his website where you can see more. Collingwood features in each picture, but don’t let that put you off!

HB Jeff Dowsing pics

I’ll basically let Jeff’s images do the talking, but the attention to detail, the intricate crowd work, the colourful advertising hoardings and the positioning of the drawings, as if Jeff was sat there in the middle of the action, are just fantastic. Top left we have Carlton and Collingwood at the ‘G (note the few spare green bench seats in the 2nd tier of the western stand) whilst to the right of that we see Darren Millane slamming home a goal to the Punt Road end, the old Southern Stand in all it’s glory.

Below that we find a scene from the old Western Oval, the old EJ Smith stand in the background, and to it’s left we have the Pies taking on the Roys at Victoria Park, Millane again taking a towering mark.

Finally we have the Dees and the Pies at the MCG. I grew up with the old Southern Stand and remember it fondly, and love that it features heavily in Jeff’s works. What really captured my attention here however was the Melbourne player who’s just given up, sitting on the turf like it’s the under 9’s, as the ball moves down the other end.

HB Jeff MCG

 While the crowd work is not as intricate, the passion is still there in this piece my brother and I did back in 1995. It appears that Footscray are well on top of the Cats, perhaps we were trying to re-write script for the 1994 Footscray v Geelong final?
HB drawing 8

Well we’re nearly done. Thanks so much to all contributors, without your help this post would never have gotten off the ground. I’m still interested if you have any football drawings lying about, perhaps your parents have kept stuff you’re not aware of, and will happily add them into this post should they surface.
 
I’ll leave you with this unfinished drawing I did in the early 2000’s of the Richmond grog squad down the Punt Road end of the MCG. I stood there for a time and just loved the singing, the chanting and the passion. That’s me wearing the long sleeved number 4, although to be honest I was usually squashed in down the front, shorty that I am. Hopefully this scene of joy will be replicated tomorrow night at the MCG!
HB drawing 14
The post contines to grow…
It’s never too late to contribute to this blog. Richmond supporter @dugaldjellie on twitter yesterday sent through these two wonderful drawings his mother has kept from the late 70’s. The first appears to have been inspired by the famous mark by Disco Roach against Hawthorn, the second is of a Melbourne v Richmond clash in 1979. Please keep sending your pics in!!
RICHMOND v HAWTHORN - Roach!
Pack Mark, Rich v Melb, 1978

Happy Snap #20 The impossible mark on the dunny wall


Danny Hargrave!
Do you remember when you were a kid and your imagination wasn’t limited by the laws of physics, gravity and the like? The above drawing by my little brother Pete embraces this freedom in creativity as  he imagined his Footscray hero, Danny Hargraves, floating above the pack and plucking a grab in the square. I have to say it also bares a remarkable likeness to the famous mark by taken by Footscray’s Merv Hobbs in the 1961 preliminary final.

Merve Hobbs

What was a bit special about this drawing however was that it was ‘immortalised’ upon the  dunny wall at Blackburn primary school, the same dunny where I had my 1991 BPS premiership photo taken. Amid flutes, skipping, flowers and trees, all lovely, sits this footy gem, or at least sat. The toilet block was demolished some years ago.
Pete pic 22

The giggling artist, 1997, as a 10 year old Doggy fan in Melbourne’s leafy east.

pete pic 2

A broader shot of the dunny wall, which was basically included to show how mangy the rubbish bins were!

And I show you this picture as a source of inspiration. I am currently collecting peoples footy drawings that they did as kids, or drawings their own children have done, for an upcoming post. I have already received some cracking entries, and would love to see your drawings too, with any back story you may have.

Please contact me on twitter @TheHolyBoot or by email-john@cherrystone.com.au.

Footy Books

Holy Boot blog-Books

Footy books. I have hundreds of them. Sourced from op-shops, fetes and second hand book stores. I even shell out for the odd new book. My books don’t just sit their gathering dust either, I give them a good working over where possible.

Nana and pa

My nana and pa in their Richmond days

My love of both footy and its reading material stems back to my nana and pa’s house in Forest Hill. Old Richmondites, they ‘migrated’ like many from the suburb labelled ‘Struggletown’ to the south-east and finally eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Amongst books on gardening, Australian history and the odd Agatha Christie novel sat a clump of books on our great Australian game. I spent many hours poring over these books, and they have shaped my love of the game, it’s history, it’s social meaning, it’s sense of humour.

Holy Boot Blog bookss

Some of my nana and pa’s footy book collection

I’m going to focus this post on the two books which most captured my imagination; The Courage Book of VFL Finals-1897-1973 and Grand Finals, Victorian Australian Rules Greatest Moments. Both are similar in that they move chronologically through the history of the VFL, and I often read them in tandem. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and as a young boy, it was mostly the pictures I focussed on, along with the match details. As such I’m still yet to read much of the text!HOLY BOOT Books combine

When my grandparents sadly passed, I snaffled the Courage book of Finals , and the below photo is a great memory I have of my nana. You could hardly touch one of her books without a plethora of related news clippings tumbling forth.
Holy Boot Blog nana boook

Below is a photo of the 1907 grand final between Carlton and South Melbourne which sits on the back cover of the book of finals, opposed to the ‘current’ image (1973) on the front. I looked at this photo endlessly as a boy, trying to comprehend just how the marquee styled pavilion and treed terraces was in fact the same MCG I grew up with, a concrete jungle.

What strikes me is the carnival atmosphere this photo captures. People up trees to gain a better vantage point, trees which are positioned in front of the pavilion and grand stand, the warm September sun as Melbourne emerges from the depths of winter. What you’re looking at is in fact the precursor to the old and new Southern Stands. I’m still mesmerised  by this photo.
1909 2This photo of the packed footy tram is a classic, though not necessarily connected to Essendon’s 1897 flag. It says to me that as much as things change, they also stay the same. Stripped back, it’s a photo of football supporters on their way to the footy by tram. I did that myself a number of times last year.1897Something that of course made me snicker as a youngun’ was the fact that the bulk of early grand finals in the VFL were umpired by Ivo Crapp. Still raises a grin. To the untrained eye it may appear however to be a brief report on the days work by the man in white.

1900

From sifting through these old pictures, scores and words as an impressionable child, a deep impact has been made. I was intrigued that Fitzroy was the early powerhouse of the VFL, was amazed that St.Kilda took years to actually register a single victory, and even more amazed that the two clubs played off the the 1913 grand final! How different things could have been had the Saints gotten up? The below photo also shows a great shot of the scoreboard which sat in the forward pocket a the punt road end of the MCG, not all too far from where the kids play up at the cricket these days.

For more reading on the MCG scoreboards and 1913 grand final, these are some fantastic posts on the scoreboard pressure blog.

HB Fitz v St.K 1913As a young Tiger growing up in a Tiger household, I stopped often at the Richmond premiership years, and 1920 in particular. The phrase ‘We Ate ’em Alive’ was born after beating the hated rival Collingwood, who’d the previous year downed the Tiges in the big one. My nana still lived with a hatred for Collingwood born from the streets of Richmond, and as both my grandparents were born in 1920, I always found this page a bit special.1920A quick peruse of this site should quickly reveal that I have a thing for old footy grounds. Well much of that too can be traced back to hours spent trawling through these books, pouring over grainy old photos such as these.

HB footy grounds books

The photo on the left is of the Junction Oval on grand final day 1944, Fitzroy defeating the Tiges to claim their final league flag. It’s hard to spot them, but my grandparents, my nanas sisters and cousins, they’re all there. And why a grand final at the Junction Oval I hear you ask? Well the MCG was out of bounds, home to American and Australian troops amid World War 2.

The photo in the top right corner takes us to Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street Oval for the 1903 semi-final between local rivals Carlton and Collingwood, at a time when the MCG wasn’t the assumed home of finals footy that it was soon to become.

And below that is a wonderful still from the 1950 grand final between North and Essendon, another ‘forgotten’ grand final given North’s lack of success until the 1970’s. Imagine if Waverley Park could have seated people between the boundary and the fence!? Would have doubled the capacity!
1939The composition of this photo always appealed to me, the fickle ball leading the players a merry dance as it tumbled this way and that. The Richmond player is Charlie Priestly, the Melbourne player more noted as a master coach, Norm Smith.

HB combined

Whenever the 1977 drawn grand final is mentioned, as it often is, the image in the top left hand corner is what comes to my mind first. The exhaustion and demoralisation is palpable, though it turns out simply to be Len Thompson receiving a 3 quarter time mouth wash, a fact I only realised as I read the caption for the first time yesterday!

To the right of that is one of the most dramatic pictures in Australian football history. Essendon champion, John Coleman, tearily walking away from the tribunal a shattered young man, a four week suspension ending his 1951 final series before it began. Geelong defeated the Bombers by 11 points come grand final day, surely Coleman would have made the difference? We’ll never know.

 Below Coleman we find the old MCG fence, unable keep the bumper 1908 grand final crowd of 50,261 at bay. However it has lived to tell the tale. Between the two 50 metre arcs on the southern wing of the MCG, the very same 1884 boundary fence, with some slight modifications, still stands, making it clearly the oldest part of the MCG, not so closely followed by the 1985 fly-swat light towers.

HB Grabs bookThe photo on the left shows action from the Geelong v Collingwood grand final in 1937 in pretty much the same position that the 1907 Carlton v South photo was taken (above). The Southern stand was brand spanking new in 1937, and as you look through these books, the action suddenly becomes recognisable with the arrival of the grand stand, suddenly looking ‘modern’ compared with the treed MCG, the knickerbockers and numberless jumpers.

To the right of that photo sees St.Kilda’s Bob Murray, taking what I see as the most graceful of marks in the 1966 grand final, while further right we see EJ the showman in the 1961 semi final against the Saints, triumphantly holding the ball aloft, giving the appearance that he’d just performed quite a feat to secure it.

Finally, as the books were published mid 1970’s, the arrival of glossy coloured images filtered their way into the production. The book on Grand Finals comes complete with an ‘Action Packed 70’s’ colour section, wedged in between the years 1945 and 1946, akin to a Cleo sealed section. Again we see the characterful old Southern Stand, packed to the hilt, as Carlton and Richmond battled it out for the 1972 premiership.

HB70'w
I hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane. You may even recall these books, or have more recent copies which were reprinted in later decades. While the old days of footy are at times difficult to connect with the game we know today, it’s good to know where footy has come from, that during the 1920’s, the 50’s or the 70’s, the game was always seen as we see it today, quicker and more skilled. We may look back on today’s football in 100 years with a nostalgic glance to a funny looking game they used to play on real grass! Who knows?HB Dad's writing

The Courage book of VFL Finals may have come to a halt in 1973, but my father, in his early 20’s, utilised the several ‘Further Results’ pages at books rear, maintaining detailed finals results up until 1976, along with a cameo appearance from the 1980 grand final.

Valentines Day themed team sheet

I’ve loved themed team-sheets since my dad, a lover of playing around with the English language, ran me through his favourite line of:

LOVE – FREE – BEERS

Even recently I’ve been amused by fellow Nick Maxwell blogger, Recovery Session panellist and mate Nath’s centre line of…

TRIANIDES – GARLICK – GOODES

*That reads ‘Try and eat his garlick goods’ for those wondering*

However to date on this blog I’ve shied away from the themed team-sheets as they’ve become slightly clichéd. But I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror and got off my high horse. Seeing I make the claim that this site is a  ‘wondrous world of footy sub-culture,’ it’s now become clear that without a themed team-sheet, I was living a lie.

So here it is, my VALENTINES DAY Themed Team-Sheet

final VALENTINE team

Some explanations…

-Wynne, Dear, Hart…should you win the heart of the one you love.

-Wittman, Wines, Sparks…Wittman being Chocolates, Wines, and the sparks should fly!

-Neeld-Many a man has gotten on one knee on Valentines Day.

Please don’t hesitate to ask for further clarification, or add your own Valentines Day inspired teams or lines in the comments section.

Happy Valentines Day…

                                                                                                          Love, The Holy Boot

UPDATE: Some fantastic entries from my twitter followers…

@FightingTiger12 added Terry Keays, Luke Toia, David Hart – KEAYS TOIA HART

@nathcroughan added Jason Wild (whom he loves) Love and Knights – WILD LOVE KNIGHTS.

Keep ’em coming…

Football Love in

Premiership Glory

Without shadow of a doubt, the highlight of my primary schooling years was Friday afternoon inter-school sport, particularly footy come the winter months. It was a pure joy to make it past the spelling test and the Speedy Gonzalis maths ‘race’ a Friday morning would offer up, and then jump on a bus or wait the arrival of our opponents from various parts of Blackburn and it’s surrounds.

I liked wearing my shorts underneath my trackies so I could be changed and ready as soon as possible, ready for action. Of course we’d hand the teacher our oranges the morning of a home game, and they’d magically reappear, quartered, at half time of our match.

The year 1991 was a big year for my football career. In fact, it was clearly the peak. Not only did I play my first and only game for Richmond, (Little League) but I was one of 3 grade 4 kids who got to play with the 5’s and 6’s. Remember, this was primary school. The grade 6 footballers were like Dermie or Timmy Watson to us in lowly grade 4.

blacky 1991

To be truthful, I remember very little of the footy played that year, other than the fact we made the grand final, and pipped arch-rivals Blackburn Lake (dirty bastards!!) in the grand final at the stately Kingwsood College. Premiership success! And played on my 10th birthday no less. The photo above was taken back at school the following week, and due to being the baby of the team, was plonked front and centre and given the ball to hold.

Black news

Daniel, the blonde kid next to our competitive coach, would years later provide me with one of my fondest footballing memories. Blacky primary kids generally went to either Blackburn High or Mallauna College, making interschool matches between these schools rather interesting! In a tight and fiery match, Daniel, playing against ‘us’ for Mallauna, gave away a double 50 metre penalty at the death, gift-wrapping us Blackburnians the match winning goal. Funny stuff. But I digress…

Playing at Kingwsood College was a treat. As you can see in the photo below, they had boundary lines! Not just that, thick, obvious ones. At Blackburn we had to run out witches hats before a match. And look at those padded goal posts! Ours were big hunks of tree wedged into the rock hard and at times gravelly surface. It seemed a fitting grand final venue.blacky kingswoodThe following year, 1992, saw the team struggle, and by the time I was in grade 6, 1993, the basketball phenomenon had depleted our football side. Our coach (coach first, teacher second I think) even tried to prevent the ‘footy players’ from playing basketball, although I can’t remember if he succeeded. We went winless, even scoreless on one occasion against St.Tom’s. The glory years (2 years is a long time when you’re in primary school) seemed a distant memory.Blacky trudging

Trudging off Morton Park in 1993, I’m 4th from the left.

But a new generation came along. Six years my junior, my brother, Pete, would too taste premiership glory for the maroon and gold in 1998. What’s more, it was also against the dreaded green and red of Blackburn Lake. Kingswood College was again the grand final venue, and though the Lakers had one of those kids who’s matured early, (he looked about 15!) the Burners came out victors in another tight tussle.

Blacky 1998 flag

My brother Pete is the cheeky looking doofus down the front with his thumb up. Note that he’s wearing my Richmond footy shorts (he follows Footscray), which is refreshing as the rest of the team appears to be wearing their school shorts. That never would have happened in my day!

Someone also must have had a word to our coach Peter Houghton about the nature of primary school footy, because it became more inclusive when my brother was under his tutelage. This was unfortunate because Pete was switched to full back at half time of one match after kicking 5 goals in the opening half! He’s still bitter, just ask him!
Blacky v Lake

Blackburn on the left, Blackburn Lake on the right.

Primary school footy, how I loved you. I’ll leave on this note. How good are these jumpers? No sign of a clash, simple, bold designs. Free of cartoons, images, thunder bolts or ‘experimental’ colours. Refreshing, don’t you think?

You can follow my brother Pete on twitter @carr_pete. Ask him about his 5-goal half!!

Photos taken by mum and myself.