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.

Farewell to Footy Park

FOOTY PARK WAVERLEYc/o Football Invective-Commentary with Balls

West Lakes and Waverley. Football and VFL Park respectively. They are 100’s of kilometers apart, yet the two are so close in many ways. They’ve even been referred to as ‘sister’ stadia. While VFL Park is long gone as a league venue, the last match for premiership points played in a previous millennia, upon entry into 2013, Football Park is too on the cusp of sharing the same fate. Next year, Footy Park will become a former league venue.

Footy Park farewell

Image courtesy of Adelaide Now

Both grounds were built by respective football leagues, the VFL and the SANFL, looking to break away from their respective ‘home’ bases, the MCG and the Adelaide Oval, which were both controlled by local cricketing authoriteis. Waverley opened in 1970, West Lakes 1974. The move for the SANFL was described as the “most exciting and momentous since the SANFL was formed almost a century earlier.”

Both grounds were built ‘out of town…’ VFL Park some 23 km’s from the heart of Melbourne, and Football Park 14km’s, in the much smaller city of Adelaide. Both also began with grandiose visions, the VFL’s original plans catered for 166,000 patrons and a stadium ‘equal to any in the world.’ The capacity reached the mid 70 thousands, although 92,000 did cram in on one occasion. Similarly, Football Park was designed to cater for 80,000 patrons. It too, never got close.

Footy Park v VFL Park comparison

Plans for Football Park on the left (80,000) and VFL Park (166,000). Looking quite similar!

The ‘sister’ stadia shared the same basic design; concrete and bench seats all the way around,  with an elevated stand opposed to ‘the outer.’ VFL Park ‘boasted’ wooden plank seats, Footy Park aluminum, a feature of many Adelaide football grounds. The plastic bucket seat has however won the day.

Unley

Aluminum seating-still alive an well in Adelaide! Unley Oval image from austadiums.com

The West Lakes oval shape is less rounded and not as expansive as Waverley Park, which could comfortably host little league matches between the fence and the boundary line. Here are the two grounds under construction, can you tell which is which?

footy vfl

Image on the left courtesy of Adelaide Now

Here is what ringed (I’m referring to Football Park in a past tense I know) the outer of both grounds. Whilst Football Park is clearly smaller, both share near identical features; larger lower section, smaller ‘upper’ sheltered section with the same roofing/advertising hoardings.Footy Park comparison

Here’s an aerial shot which gives a clear look at the similar set up of both stadia.

FPVFLPK

Both grounds even had a gap between their stands where a small scoreboard was situated. While VFL Park boasted the notorious ‘Big V’ scoreboard, this ‘small’ one was Football Parks main board until recently.FOOTY PARK sc

Well it’s nearly curtains for West Lakes, both it and Waverley conquered by the very cricket grounds they sought to replace. But they have played their roles admirably, and football now resides at the MCG and Adelaide Oval (as of 2014) in a more powerful position. I hope the South Australian footy people can send the old girl off in style. Ugly as she was, she had character.

FP -The Future

And in a final twist of synchronisation, Football Park will join Waverley in becoming both a housing estate and elite AFL training venue…..together forever.  

Barassi – The Stage Show

Ronald Dale Barassi. His name is intrinsically linked with Australian Football, as player, coach, media performer and visionary. And what better way to celebrate Barassi’s contribution to football and life in Victoria than in the form of  the Stage Show! Barassi the Stage Show is nearly upon us, combining two of Melbourne’s great passions; footy and the arts. I was lucky enough to be invited for a sneak peak at rehearsals and a quick chat with some of the cast, but before I had even entered the building, I felt that this show would be a success. Why?

Well in a quiet backstreet of Collingwood, the majority of the cast was involved in a glorious game of kick-to-kick. This is what they do in their breaks. Parked cars were at risk of damage while the possibility of the footy lodging itself in a tree loomed large. It was beautiful.

On entering the main rehearsal room it was as if being in a football museum, with old photos, Sherrins, Premiership cups (I think they were fake) and even newspaper clippings lining the walls. As a stickler for detail, I could see that much thought and research is going into putting this show together.

But just how do you bring the rough and tumble game of football to the stage? I didn’t have to wait long, as the fist scene we were treated to was an artistic impression of Jesaulenko’s famous mark from the 1970 grand final. Here’s the thing…it was done in slow motion! I won’t go through the mechanics of how, you can see for yourself in the video below.

All of the best choreography in the land would be futile however without someone who could pull off the role of Ronald Barassi himself. Enter Chris Asimos and Steve Bastoni, playing ‘young’ and ‘older’ Barassi respectively. When meeting the young Barassi, Asimos, I was struck by his appearance. He has the Barassi mouth, the strong jaw line, while also pointing out that he was Greek and not Italian like Barassi’s heritage. Originally from Adelaide, Asimos noted that “you need to have a team to follow in Melbourne,” and as such he now follows the Dees.

Chris Asimos portrays a young Barassi. I like that his Melbourne jumper has a collar!

While I didn’t get to see the young Barassi in action, Bastoni too has the strong jaw line and presence to play Ron. The legend of Australian football is not the most eloquent of speakers. Even he once famously said after adressing a player that “you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about!.” But both the script and Bastoni combine to bring Barassi’s sharp and at times clumsy manner of speaking together in a most enjoyable way. 

Ron Barassi, young and the old…er. Asimos on the left, Bastoni on the right.

An interesting aspect of the show is the teaming up of former high flying Melbourne star Russell Robertson, a performer in his own right whether taking a hanger in the square or behind his guitar, with the experienced Sean McGrath and Glenn Maynard. The inclusion of Robertson for his first acting role appears to be far from a token appearance of a footballer.

The three work as a team throughout, portraying a multitude of different characters relevant to the stage of Barrassi’s career being depicted. Remember, Ron was in footy from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s, so there is much ground to cover.

“This is all new to me so being with Sean and Glenn has been great, I’ve just soaked up as much as I can form them” said Robertson of working with McGrath and Maynard, himself familiar with footy. “It’s different to footy, that just takes up your whole life, you can’t drink, you have to watch what you eat… whereas these guys work hard but then go to the pub every night for a couple of beers!”

Ron The cast go through their paces, Jane Clifton with her enthralling narration while the ‘boys’ await their turn.

Having a professional footballer on board certainly has it’s benefits in a project such as this, and in a search for authenticity, Robertson has been able to give some ‘footballing direction. “Chris (Asimos) was too balletic and clean in his movements, I had to dirty him up a bit” Robertson said with a cheeky grin, well aware that he was a novice of the theatre but looking for a bit of playful leverage. “All I’ve really helped in has been movement…to make it more realistic.”

Maynard, who among other roles depicts indigenous star Syd Jackson, pointed out that it’s a show for everyone, “not just Melbourne supporters” added Robertson. Barassi once said that  “loyalty was doing the right thing by the club you were with for the time you were there,” and as such spent time at 4 different clubs. However Barassi transcends club, he represents Australian football, and has been patriotic about spreading it around this land.  “It’s a history of VFL/AFL football, everyone should see this play” Robertson concluded.

Richard Sutherland playing North administrator Albert Mantello, attempting to lure Barassi to coach the only club without a premiership.

Rehearsal hours are long, but with the show opening in little over a week and a noticeable increase in media coverage, there is a great sense of enthusiasm amongst the cast. Bastoni was sporting a Marngrook Footy Show top, no doubt a memento from his recent appearance on the show to plug ‘Barassi.’ It seems apt as the Margrook footy show mixes live musical performance with footy talk, much in the way footy will hit the stage with this production.

September in Melbourne is more than just finals time, it’s also a celebration of Australian football. There’s no better way than to make sure you catch ‘Barassi.’ Check out this quick video of how rehearsals are coming along.

For more information, please visit the comprehensive Barassi Play website. Ticketing and cast information can be found along with plenty of other interesting features.

You can also follow the Barassi Play on twitter by following @BarassiShow and check out the Barassi show on facebook for the latest updates http://www.facebook.com/BarassiTheStageShow

Young Ron Barassi image from http://gameplans.tumblr.com/post/549942291/ron-barassi-jim-stynes-and-the-mcg

Backyard Gladiators

Yes, like a lot of you, my backyard was my footy ground as a kid. Poorly placed lemon trees, clothes lines and vegie gardens became obstacles to overcome, much like an opponent, although luckily we grew up on a rather big property in leafy Blackburn.

                  

Here I am in front of the newly erected pavillion (1986)…surely one of the last wooden structures before the modern obsession with concrete and steel. The Tiger jumper you see there now fits my own daughter, although she’d like to morph my Dale Weightman’s ‘3’ into an ‘8, like Jackie.’

I loved playing footy in the backyard as a kid. I would act out each upcoming match, concocting the most bizarre of circumstances! Richmond, 23 goals in the first quarter against Essendon! Or trailing Carlton by a hundred points, the Tiges would come back and snatch it with a miracle goal after the siren! I did commentate a little to myself, but I was more into mimicking the crowd noise as the Tiges came storming back! The glory was never reflected come the weekend, but I’d be back the next week, dreaming up glorious scenarios for my Richmond.

It was often said to me as a kid that the muddier you got, the better you had played. I must have been a bit of a star then! Yep, that’s my sister Mezz and I. Mum did the unthinkable and tried to convert her to Essendon, but she had the sense to follow the family team, and the sash was soon a yellow one. I enjoyed playing footy with my lil’ sister, and I had her kicking really well, but her heart just wasn’t into playing. I had a dream to play for Richmond. That was sadly not a reality for her so why bother? What I needed was a mind for moulding. Thankfully, my footy mad baby brother came along.

Inexplicably, though he’s wearing yellow and black here, he grew up a Footscray supporter. He does have a soft spot for the Tiges however, as I do for the ‘Scray, but going to Footscray v Richmond matches is a big no-no!

Far too old to get away with it, but that didn’t stop us!

There was a six year gap between us, but I wasn’t your typical ‘beat-up on you little brother’ type. I preferred an even competition, so would introduce handicaps for myself. I’d have to start on my knees, only kick on my left and the like, all the time searching for some semblance of realism. The backyard was my own league ground, and I tried to play it to scale. This meant kicking shorter, running slower…all in the search for reality. A visitor would come over, boot it over the fence, and essentially ruin our game.

But my brother grew up. Pete now stands half a head above me. In my latter years at home, we were able to compete without handicaps…it was man verses man….ok…. boy verses nearly man. We had two main games. For one of them we’d stand 20 meters apart, one of us would kick the ball high into the middle and we essentially played a version of chicken. After a sore head or two however, we resorted to the game you can see in the surrounding pictures.

Shoulder to shoulder, one of us would kick the ball high into the air, avoiding the pine tree. If you had scored, the other person kicked it ‘up.’ If you marked the ball, you had a set shot. If it came to ground however, it was on for young and old. He was young, I was old. Numerous winter hours were spent here, playing until dark. We’d bump, swear, tackle and rub it in the face of the other. All still within the framework of playing ‘to scale’ in our backyard though. We knew we’d never ‘make it.’ This was it for us!

Three things about this photo. Firstly, I cannot work out if I am wearing long shorts or short longs, but they do lend a certain early 1900’s knickerbocker feel to the photo. Secondly, it’s clearly a staged photo as can be seen by the limp ‘effort’ i am putting in. Our game was not so much about high flying either, rather marking ‘tussles.’ And thridly, it reminds me of finals time. Spring leaping through the trees and the smell of cut grass. I can smell this photograph.

There’s something about us older brothers. Though Pete is well taller than me, I can still outmark him through sheer competitiveness. I imagine league players, with older brothers who never made the highest level, still unable to defeat their older siblings in backyard footy. It’s a different beast. Visualise Jason and Cameron Cloke dominating and making Travis, clearly the pick of the trio, cry in the backyard. David would be umpiring of course. He never misses a match.

So whilst footy can sometimes be the only thing that ties siblings or parents together, that wasn’t the case with us. We had plenty in common and still do. But the footy is never far from being brought up. On both of our wedding days we even pulled out the footy, ironically in the backyard, to help settle the nerves. It’s something our respective partners are still coming to terms with!

Playing footy in mum and dads backyard is not as easy as it used to be.There’s a new vegie garden on the half forward flank, and though the clothesline has been removed (about time!) the goal posts have since disappeared. There’s more breakable stuff around too…while the golden elm encroaches onto the playing field like never before. But we can still navigate our way past the cubby house, blind turn the bird bath and nail the goal from the clothesline pocket, all with our eyes shut!

A Town painted Red, White & Blue

Living in Footscray, it’s hard to ignore the fact that as a Richmond supporter, I am in ‘enemy territory.’ (I’m actually quite partial to Footscray!) Unlike a lot of clubs, there is still a strong link between the suburb and the footy club. When I came across the below fire hydrants, I decided to do a little tour of the village in search of red, white and blue.

What impresses me is that the fire hydrants of Footscray encompass both home and clash strips!

Many houses are adorned with Footscray Footy Club paraphernalia, and when the Dogs are in the finals as they were recently the volume increases dramatically. Above are some of my favourites. From the subtle to the clever. The lower picture was found on Lara Cameron’s lovely blog http://kirinote.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/knitted.html

This is Doug Hawkins first of two appearances in this post, fitting given the connection he appeared to share with fans. He was one of them in a way. This is one small part on a wall outside Footscray City College, a large mosaic depiction of Footscray. Above Doug is some fantastic old advertising on the Rising Sun Hotel (now apartments…nearly), over the road from the Western Oval, while other street art around Footscray shows a great love for the dog. There’s even a Dancing Dog cafe!

We’ll skip momentarily out of Footscray, yet stay firmly in the west. The Braybrook Hotel proudly houses these fantastic statues of two Braybrook boys in EJ Whitten and Hawkins, arguably Footscray Football Clubs biggest personalities and two of the very best. Surely there’s no need for security with these two out the front night after night?Below is another wall mural, this one running along the Barkley Street side of St.Monica’s Primary School. The scoreboard reads Footscray 18.24.132 to Collingwood 11.10.76. If only that were the case more often than not! We also see that Footscray Primary’s uniform is red, white and blue, and back to the mosaic wall for another take on the Western Oval, along with a Bulldogs inspired playground.
‘Cafe Bulldog’ in the Footscray Mall unashamedly sports the clubs logo and colours, as does the trendier Gusto cafe in West Footscray, albeit with a somewhat artfully put together Bulldog to watch over patrons. (bottom right pic from the wonderful Footscray Food Blog-read here about the Whitten Oval’s Pound cafe!)

And lastly this bit of graffiti, pointed out to me by Vin Maskell of the fantastic scoreboard pressure blog, sums it all up for me. For no matter where you are, there’ll always be a Collingwood supporter showing a bit of cheek.

The clutter of Football – AFL (Advertising Football League)

I am both a realist and a  romantic. How these two coexist I am not sure. I want to briefly take a look at advertising in football. I’m no expert on such matters, so I’ll try and make my point in a more visual way.

Advertising. It is here to stay, not just in football but in life, and it’s very hard to escape it. And not all advertising is evil, that’s not the path I am taking. But at times it can clutter your life.

Not so in Sao Paulo however. This city of 11 million has been without public advertising for five years now, and in a 2011 government survey it was found that 70% of its residents had found the change beneficial. Whilst the situation is not perfect, an issue I am not delving into here, the lack of “visual pollution” is said to have had a positive impact on the people. Click here to see a great before and after video.

Sao Paulo image from http://slorker.com/sao-paulo-a-city-without-advertising/

Much like we Melbournians understand what it is to “meet under the clocks,” one Sao Paulo resident said that “My old reference was a big Panasonic billboard, but now my reference is an art deco building that was covered by the massive sign.”

So football. As I said, I’m a realist. Should a club nobly knock back all advertising, they would cease to be competitive and go broke quick. But when is enough, enough? There was a time when the Sherrin itself was thought to be sacred, until the Golden Arches found their way onto the leathern sphere. “Challenge on a ball? What do you think?” went the Crackers Keenan ad. Club guernseys too were once pure from advertising. Who’d have thought that Carlton, the famous old dark blues, would have colours such as red and yellow splashed over their famous old jumper? But it’s reality.

So things won’t change, but it’s also good to be aware of just how cluttered the modern game has become with advertising. New substitute rule? Subway Subs. How many Carlton Draughts has Gary Ablett had? You get the picture.

Here are two famous Carlton marks. Andrew Walker’s screamer has had up to 12 advertisements removed and to my eye now has a purity to it. And below, well I’ve just had some fun in adding some advertising to Jezza’s famous speckie!

And finally, a short visual presentation on the saturation of advertising in football today. It’s good to be aware of the “visual pollution.” Digital alterations done by mine own fair hand.

Original images from…
Andrew Walker mark – http://www.sen.com.au/site/_content/article/sp00040292-image.jpg
Dustin Martin – http://images.theage.com.au/2012/04/14/3219657/AFL-20Richmond-20v-20Melbourne-20Round-203-203_20120414184811693939-600×400.jpg
Josh Kennedy http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2011/04/24/1226043/996579-josh-kennedy.jpg
Jezza’s mark http://footyalmanac.com.au/wp-content/uploads/1970-GF-Jezza-shrunk.jpg
Lenny Hayes – http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2009/09/06/1225769/964657-afl-finals-action-week-1.jpg

Wayne Campbell & Me

It all caught up with me. There I was with my sister and our better halves on the terraces at Kardinia Park, in tears. It was Wayne Campbell’s 297th and final match for the Richmond Football Club, and the only occasion that the emotions have gotten the better of me at the footy in the form of tears. There were a number of factors involved at the culmination of that match.

Firstly, there was very narrow defeat at the hands of the more fancied Geelong. We hadn’t won down at Kardinia Park since 1990, the year before Campbell debuted for the Tiges. But I’ve seen many a similar loss with no tears.

Secondly, it all came home that the much maligned Campbell had really given his all for the club, and did the honourable thing of bowing out just three games shy of the illustrious 300 figure.

And thirdly, it made me feel old and nostalgic. Not a lot of people know this, but Wayne Campbell and I debuted for the mighty Richmond Football Club on the same day in 1991 against the old Fitzroy at Princes Park. Wayne donned the number 46 for the seniors, and I the number 6….for the little league. What a thrill.

 

My ticket to Wayne Campbell’s first and last matches. They don’t make tickets to last these days!

I was actually below the cut-off age to be playing, but the guy running the Laburnam Footy Clinic (pre-branding), Kevin O’Mally, told a fib about my age and got me a game. As the lone Richmond fan amongst a sea of Hawks, Bombers and Pies, he must have pitied me.

You’re going to have to take my word for it but that’s me circled, a fair bit smaller than everyone else, running from the ground having just played for the Tiges. I kicked a point with what was the only possession that I can recall having.

We were bundled up into the Heatley Stand for the first quarter and a half, me being the only one in my team who was invested in the match. We circled the boundary before half time and headed into the musty old rooms to change, where a few reserves players were still gathered. I remember hearing the roar of the crowd, and desperately hoping it was for a Richmond goal.

The match itself was a blur and I remember little other than struggling greatly with the water bottle, the likes of which I’d never used before. Coughing and spluttering ensued. As I took my place with mum and dad after ‘my’ match, I learned that they had situated themselves behind two of the most obnoxious and loud mouth Roy supporters that ever lived. Luckily we got up.

Mum took this snap from their position in the forward pocket

But back to Wayne Campbell. You can see him above in game one, positioned perfectly for the hit out from the ruckman. Number 46 remember. Reading the game and being a step ahead were clearly natural to him from day dot.

Campbell in game one attempting to spoil Brett Stephens from Fitzroy, the old Gardiner stand in the background. I didn’t get a run in the paper! (Herald-Sun, 1991)

‘Cambo’ wasn’t my favourite player, but the more I reflect on his career, the more I appreciate him. Amongst 4 club best and fairests and club captaincy, he polarised Tiger fans, for reasons I could never understand. He was instrumental in driving Richmond up the ladder in the latter part of 1994 and in 1995 he finished the home and away season as Brownlow favourite.The back end of the 1999 season saw the Tiges really struggle, but Campbell really shone at this time showing great leadership.

I thought Campbell was tough and put his body on the line, prepared to take physical punishment so as to release team mates into space. But his ‘footy brain’ was his strength, his adequate skills aided by his decision making. At times you could literally see his brain ticking over, thinking one or two moves ahead.

Yet it’s Wayne’s loyalty which I value most. He could well have left for greener pastures, and from a professional point of view, perhaps should have. But he stayed. When handed the captaincy in 2001, to the disgust of many Tiger fans given he replaced Matthew Knights, one of his first acts as skipper was to fly the flag for the man he replaced. Tony Liberatore king hit Knights behind play, and Campbell stood up against Libba both physically and with words throughout the week, breaking the ‘players code’ of silence.

Campbell and Knights remonstrate with Libba – Image from http://oneeyed-richmond.com/history/every_dog_has_its_day/camboknighterlibba.jpg

So I cried a bit when Wayne finished up, getting to that age where I was seeing blokes retire whom I remembered playing their first games. Slowly l am getting used to that. As Campbell started his career, I still had stars in my eyes of one day representing Richmond, unable to acknowledge the slim chances that faced me.

Watching Wayne trudge off for the last time, head in hands, was like a sledgehammer reminding me that I would never make it, and it struck me how hard he had worked in his career for no success. Sometimes this game isn’t fair. Wayne Campbell, it was a pleasure having you represent my footy club.

The final training session 

Scoreboard Pressure – Western Oval

Be sure to check out Vin Maskell’s piece on the Western/Whitten Oval for his sight Scoreboard Pressure, an in depth look at scoreboards from a scoreboard enthusiast! A big thanks to Vin for using some of my photos, much appreciated and glad they could be of use!

http://scoreboardpressure.com/2012/06/04/whitten-oval-footscray-victoria/

 

Adelaide v The Eagles

 

West Coast and Adelaide are often lumped together. Both teams represent their state’s local leagues, the WAFL and the SANFL, and are considered the ‘big brother’ of their respective cross town rivals, Fremantle and Port Adelaide. Both also enjoyed early success, prising away two flags each from a bitter Victorian landscape during the 1990’s.

Why is it then that I consider Adelaide a bona fide footy club, and the Eagles still as a franchise, a bit plastic? I was only 6 when they entered the competition so I’ve grown up with them, but there’s something not quite right for me.

So what’s in a name?

Let’s start with Adelaide. It is what it is, it represents the town of….Adelaide! The previous incarnation of the Adelaide Football Club disbanded in 1893 and is in no way connected to the current day club, which meant that upon entrance to the AFL in 1991, their was no hesitation in simply calling the club Adelaide.

West Coast on the other hand is to me a vague choice of name to represent a Perth based club. In their defence, the name Perth Football Club was already taken, the Perth Demons being a member of the WAFL. However, the ‘West Coast’ of Australia represents a landmass four to five times larger larger the United Kingdom, and as all landmasses possess a west coast, to me the name is generic and far from inspiring.

Think I’m being harsh? Consider the words of respected footy commentator and proud West Australian Dennis Cometti. He describes the “dumb name” as “American crapola!” The usually affable Cometti continued “It’s a real blight on the competition.”

Cometti coaching WAFL side West Perth, who he also played with. Image from- http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2005/08/26/cometti.jpg

Part of Cometti’s reasoning is a lack of a geographical focus. “I have struck many people who I have met overseas who follow Australian rules who ask me where West Coast is located. They ask me how far from Melbourne is it.” The Perth Eagles is Cometti’s preferred choice.

While the name ‘Perth’ was out of reach, perhaps something such as ‘Greater Perth’ could have worked. That’s what marketing and branding people are out there for. ‘West Coast’ seems a poor choice.

Nicknames and Monikers

The Eagles. Easy listening pop-rock music, from the West Coast of the USA. That’s right, ‘West Coast Eagles’ conjures up images of harmonic pop melodies, sweetly sung by hairy, good natured ‘boy next door’ types. It hardly sounds befitting of a hard and tough football team, which is what West Coast have been for the majority of their existence.

The Eagles from the US West Coast. Perhaps Eagle Ben Cousins modelled his open shirt look from the bloke on the left? Image from-http://images.paraorkut.com/img/artists/images/t/the_eagles-1137.jpg

But what should a team from Perth have been called? Like the Perth name was taken, so was the obvious W.A football name of Swans; snatched by South Melbourne after an influx of West Australian recruits many years ago. The state team was also known as the ‘Sandgropers,’ a colloquial term for West Australians. However ‘Greater Perth Gropers’ would struggle to secure the sponsorship dollars needed to run a football club. I don’t have the answer, but ‘West Coast’ with ‘Eagles’ is too American.

Compare this with Adelaide’s moniker, the Crows. This is no throw-away nickname, instead it is steeped in more history than most. South Australia’s state football team has been long known as the Croweaters, a unique name which started out as a term of ridicule. It can be traced back to 1851, seven years before the recognised ‘beginnings’ of our national game began fragmenting themselves together.

As the South Australians rushed to the Victorian gold fields they began to run low on food, so out of necessity, “killed, cooked and ate some crows.” Arriving at the gold fields in a “very hard up state” and after relating their experiences, they were soon dubbed the ‘croweaters.’ The name stuck.

So whilst ‘Crow-eaters’ and ‘Crows’ confusingly brings up thoughts of cannibalism, this too adds to their footy club culture, as all the old clubs have the ability to ‘eat their own’ in times of trouble.

The Jumper

We now turn our attention the two teams guernsey designs. This is important to me. If the jumper is right, I can turn a blind eye to other aspects. When West Coast and the Brisbane Bears entered the VFL competition in 1987, they brought with them two jumpers which challenged the definition of a ‘footy jumper.’

The original 1987 Brisbane and West Coast jumpers, along with the WA state jumper. Upon putting these together I noticed that perhaps a picture of a bird in the middle of the guernsey was possibly a shout out to tradition.

The first thing to notice is that there was far more yellow than had been used in the VFL to that point . But for me this worked, as yellow seemed a colour representative of far warmer climates than the Melbourne competition they were joining. West Australia’s state team had a predominately yellow jumper, and this provided a nice link.

Anthony Costa, whose site http://www.costasportslogos.com/ looks at sporting logos, branding and uniforms amongst other things, also prefers the “gold jumper, which for me is the club’s most distinctive onfield look. There’s a lot of blue and dark sombre colours in the AFL… reckon this jumper would really light things up.”

West Coast reversed the colours in 1988, the colour blue becoming the more dominant, though many shades of blue have since been used. I found and continue to find the Eagles jumper a tad fiddley, with both the writing and the picture being rather non-descript when viewed from any distance past ten metres, though the word Eagles is long gone. The guernsey has never felt settled and is often tinkered with. I am still unclear which is their ‘official’ jumper. 

Adelaide on the other hand have ticked ‘all the boxes’ as the clichéd footy saying goes. Their colours, red, blue and yellow are those of their states football team. Their design is simple and striking, like a Geelong jumper on an acid trip.

South Australia’s jumper left, Adelaide jumper right.

A look through Adelaide’s home jumpers from 1991 to today shows the most minor of tinkering, which would indicate that they have got it right. No fancy pictures, words or designs, which incidentally are impossible to see as a player is chasing the pigskin in the distance. Just simple, bold colours and patterns.

To illustrate my point, the past few years have seen Port Adelaide, Fremantle and Footscray all simplify their jumpers, removing all imagery, to near-universal praise. Port Adelaide’s current jumper was even designed by a 7 year old fan. Consider all the money wasted on professional advice from marketing and design companies!

Club Song

This is my final point. As a a musician, I can’t help but see this as integral to the fabric and culture of a club. I’ll kick this section off with a tweet I came across after West Coast’s recent thrilling victory over Hawthorn.

Simple statement. True statement. West Coast’s ‘modern’ rock-pop themesong severely lacks the punch and heart thumping pride found in old fashioned brass band music. It sounds corny, but it’s amazing what can happen when you mix a tuba, trombone and banjo with a barbershop quartet on heat! The rock beat which sits behind West Coast’s song also sucks the number dry of emotion and feeling.

*click* West Coast’s themesong (Warning! Contains mediocre footy song!)

While Adelaide’s song is far from the best in the league, again you get the sense that they have aimed for the type of song which blokes can sing together post-match, a cappella. They have the right idea, I’m just not sure about the execution. But it has the desired effect as the Adelaide players congregate post-victory. I think I can even hear the Coodabeens South Aussie representative Greg Champion’s voice in there!

*click* Adelaide’s themesong (Warning! Contains MIDI instruments)

Final thoughts

When it comes to club image, marketing and all that jargon, the Crows have just kept it simple and rooted in the past. And just think, anything fancy wouldn’t have matched the heads of McDermott, Weideman, Maynard, Rhenn or Riccoutiou!

West Coast on other hand were and are a slick, professional outfit. Business like and clean cut, seemingly an emotionless machine. Much of that could have been due to coach Mick Malthouse’s approach and demeanor at the time. But just think of McKenna, Worsfold, Pyke and co…. they would have looked just as comfortable on the footy field as they would have in business suits.

Sure, West Coast had the rough heads of Gastev and Ishchenko run around, while the Crows had glamour boy Modra and the clean-cut Tyson Edwards, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Perhaps the ‘American’ West Coast image suits this club? Perhaps it was what the Eagles founders saw as their aim? But I don’t think so. Think of Worsfold’s toughness, the skill of Matera, Dean Kemp and Guy McKenna’s courage, Ashley McIntosh throwing his light frame around with little regard for himself. What of the toughness of the pint-sized Daniel Kerr, the gut-running of Cousins and Judd, the fear Beau Waters instils in opponents. A team renowned for their miserly defence and toughness.

West Coast Eagle fans, you deserve better. Your club’s image does not match the reality of your club, whilst the Crows, love them or hate them, would appear to have done things well.

What’s your take? I would love to hear from Eagles and Crow fans alike!

With a little help from my friends…

-Click here for more of Anthony Costa’s thoughts on the West Coast logo

-All jumper images were found at footyjumper.com. For a comprehensive look at VFL-AFL and state jumpers, this website will not leave you disappointed! http://www.footyjumpers.com/

Cometti’s comments were courtesy of http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/west-coast-name-is-dumb/story-e6frg1wu-1111113132067

And the Crow-eaters history lesson was found here- http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/manning/sa/misc/crema.htm#croweaters

Where’s the Boot?

I’ve been a bit busy of late but rest assured, I have several pieces in the pipeline coming soon. In the meantime, consider this equation of sorts.

7 x 7 = 49

7 goals 7 pts is also 49.

Think about that. Yours in football, Boot