Home & Away – Punt Road Oval

Punt Road writing

Senior league football returns to Richmond Paddock today in what will be the final dress rehearsal for the Essendon and Richmond football sides for season 2014. A total capacity of 2,100 will however rank as one of the lowest Punt Road crowds of all time, a far cry from the 46,000 whoe squeezed in to see the 1949 clash between the Tigers and the Blues.

Punt Road r9 1949 49,000

But I don’t wish to dwell on present events. This post is going to look back at the old Punt Road oval, often through the lens of my own families eye. As all of my home and away posts have aimed to do, this is to showcase essentially what has survived from yesteryear…an old sign here, and grandstand there, a ticket booth somewhere else.

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Punt Road circa 2006

We’ll start back in 1966, and much like today, the theme is pre-season. Dad ventured to Punt Road Oval, camera in hand, for an intraclub practise match. The reason he attended? To see new recruit Royce Hart who’d received rave reviews upon his arrival from Tasmania.

Punt Road 2 pics

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These shots were taken from the Cricketers Stand, a place where dad had never watched the footy from, hence the fascination. Similar I guess to when I’d sit on the members wing or even the super boxes at VFL Park for practise matches. These photos offer a great view of the Punt Road end of the ground, the Royal Hotel and the classic Richmond skyline, dominated by the St.Ignatious spire.

The outer hill remains largely intact today, although at the Punt Road (the actual road) end it suddenly narrows. This was due to the widening and adding of lanes to Punt Rd, one of many factors contributing to the Tigers leaving the ground for the near-by MCG in 1965.

Punt Rod 2 pics 2

On the right is a very interesting photo, taken again from the cricketers stand. Visible is the outer side scoreboard and if you look closely you can see the old concrete fence which once surrounded the oval. There’s also the overgrown terraces behind the goals, which are no longer. The outer side however is still very recognisable today.


Some more fossicking around recently led dad to stumble across some old slides. See dad is Richmond through and through (and through) but also followed Prahran in the old VFA competition. And so it was the dad journeyed to what was familiar territory (the Richmond ground) to see them take on Preston in the 1968 VFA grand final. (The 1967 final between Port and Dandenong also at Punt Road is widely regarded as one of the more brutal football games there has been.)

Again dad seemed attracted to the Cricketers stand, and is himself suprised that he’s taken this photo from inside the arena as the ‘two-blues’ entered the field of battle. Punt Road had hosted it’s last VFL match just 4 years prior, so the ground was still ‘complete’ and able to cope with a large crowd.

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The second slide dad uncovered is of the Liston Trophy being presented to Preston player Dick Telford, who after stints at Collingwood and Fitzroy took the VFA competition by storm, also winning his club best and fairest and helping guide Preston to the premiership. Also number 1 for Prahran you can see is former well known Collingwood player Kevin Rose, who captain-coached the two-blues at the time. Also note the wonderful banners adorning the boundary fence, although they have a rather Coburg/Port Melbourne feel to them, perhaps from the curtain raiser?Punt Road 68 GF

Other things I love from this photo are the brass band mid ground, the ‘stuffy and important’ looking men along with the late 60’s Richmond in the background.

Now my first visit to Punt Road was for the 1989 Richmond best and fairest barbecue, a far cry from last year’s Brownlow style best and fariest awards which I live streamed on my laptop! I had my photo taken with winner Tony Free and Matty Knights, hoisted up on their shoulders! The photo, taken in a tent, never turned out. What did however was my less exciting meeting with former player and assistant coach of some description Barry Rawlings. How is our body language?! But it does offer a better look at what was a very tired and run down Punt Road oval.
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The metal pipe seating, the same industrial seating which also surrounded Arden St and parts of Preston’s Cramer St Oval, looks about as inviting as a trip to the dentist, and surely on a cold day, standing huddled with the masses provided a more comfortable experience. Below is a shot from the same day perched up in what I believe at the time was just named ‘the grandstand.’Punt Road 91

Again there’s a great view of Richmond the suburb. I love the ‘plush’ best and fairest venue, and what appears to be an old scoreboard lying on it’s face. I’m not sure of it’s origins as the old footy scoreboard was on the outer side of the ground, however these  team shots below at Punt Road definitely show a scoreboard, complete with cigarette advertising, at the Punt Rd end. I’d be interested if anyone knows more about this.


1983 and 1988 team photos

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This is actually one of my favourite views of Punt Road, the back of the old grand stand. In my life time it’s been the dramatic back drop to news of sacked coaches, secret board meetings, and has even been the recipient of a pile of steaming chook poo! I just love the feel of the red bricks and make it a point to walk past it on my way over to see Richmond play at the MCG. It also now houses the Richmond Football Club museum which was originally in the bowells of the since demolished cricketers stand come social club. It’s open Mondays and match days at the G, so make sure you get along!
punt rd grandstand

I’ve always loved this photo of Jack Dyer arriving at Punt Road oval with the local Richmond lads carrying their idol’s bags. It’s a great portrait of what football once was, accessible, local, even a tad tribal. To the right is a photo I took around 2006 of the same spot where Captain Blood entered Yarra Park. The above structure has since been demolished save for a sceric of old standing room which I’m most thankful has been kept. 
Dyer Punt Road

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The since demolised entrance gates


And here is that little piece of yesteryear which still stands today. No more than 50 or so patrons could have squeezed into this tiny bit of standing room, but it looks like it would have been a great spot to watch the footy from. I took a panorama shot from up there so I could let my imagination run away with itself!

Punt Rd panorama from awesome standy thingy

It’s time to turn our attention to what is now named the Jack Dyer stand, the ‘main attraction’ if you like. Although in the midst of having coaches boxes installed and thus reducing it’s capacity, it’s one of those classic footy grandstands that feels much bigger when you’re in it than when looking at it. My nana used to talk about sitting in it with her cousins nd how they’d stamp their feet on the wooden boards each time a goal was kicked. Below is actually a shot from the last VFL match to be played at the ground bewteen Coburg and Williamstown in 2005. It was a sodden day and this was the entire crowd, but it does look nice to have Jack’s stand full of Tiger supporters. Can you spot David Cloke keeping a close eye on however many Clokes were playing that day?Punt Road in the wet

It’s a ‘classic’ grandstand, and a feature that I love is the side glass windows. I’m not sure what it is about these but I love them. Perhaps it’s the feeling of being ensconsed by the stand, protected from a wintery Melbourne day.GRANDSTAND PICS

Whilst I completely understand that the footy club needed to revamp and expand the playing surface (a great thing for the club) it has made a bit of a mess of the natural contours the ground had going for it. I eagerly await the finished product.GRANDSTAND CONGLOMERATE

A little gem which I discovered in one of the narrow gaps I often find myself in whilst exploring a football ground was this ‘Gin Bar’ sign which was on the side of the old grand stand. With the wall in front of it since removed it is now easily seen, and worth having a look at for a glimpse of the past.Gin Bar

It would be remis of me not to mention and photographically demonstrate Punt Road’s location in relation to the mighty MCG. This will be the Tigers 50th season at the ‘G, having shifted it’s home games there in 1965, a masterstroke. The club’s most successful period came on the back of the move, and while progress can at times be hard for the footy fan to accept, premierships help.
Punt Rd & 'GWhich brings me finally to the cricketers stand-come-social club, where my dad did some of his finest camera work back in the 1960’s. This old building intrigued me greatly; from some angles it still looked like an old grandstand, from others it looked like a rundown block of flats. On venturing into the old museum that was tucked away in there you really got a sense of being in the bowels of a grandstand, a wonderfully authentic location for a football museum. I sneakily souveneered a brick when this building was demolished, something which seems silly yet I treasure it.

Punt Road new

Punt Road Cricketers stand

The rundown old footy ground I first ‘met’ in 1989 is no longer that. With a new surface and elite training and social facilities, the ground would be unrecognisable if it weren’t for the old grandstand keeping things rooted in the past. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the ground in use again for the Richmond VFL team, and the seniors practise match against Essendon sure has great lot of novelty factor. I only wish I could have gone!

Punt Road brick

Said brick

Punt Road Oval – 1922

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The fact that fans can still use the social club on game day, get off at Richmond station and walk past the ground on the way into the ‘G makes us very lucky when you consider what has been lost in the modern game. Richmond essentially still plays in Richmond, and Punt Road is very much our home, though it was one of the first league grounds to bite the dust. I’m glad she’s being looked after…now let’s start working on her trophy cabinet.

Eat em alive

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Happy Snap #19 Punt Rd, Dan Minogue & some pencils

My five year old daughter the other night asked whether the olden days were in black and white. I think we may have all had that moment as children, our only links with the past being the old black and white photographs we peered at curiously. Well sifting through some old things at my parents the other day, I came across this drawing I did as a teen, and was reminded of my reasons for drawing it. I wanted to bring to life an old black and white photograph of a Richmond v Fitzroy match from 1922, with captain Dan Minogue taking a mark in outstretched arms.

Whilst I’m not particularly pleased with the ‘trees of Yarra Park’ (I clearly had lost interest by this point, a common theme with myself and drawings) I made amends, in my mind at least, with the detail on the old grandstand, when my interest in the project was clearly at a peak. Below is the original snap, photographer unknown.

The result that day was Richmond 5.10.40 to Fitzroy 3.14.32, an aggregate of 8.24! Perhaps goalkicking accuracy isn’t so bad these days. Richmond having won the previous two VFL flags, and Fitzroy claiming their 7th later this year, it was fair to say the two clubs were a big deal at the time!

Punt Road 2000's

I took a photo from the same spot-Williamstown v Coburg, mid 2000's

Note: The grandstand…since renamed the Jack Dyer Stand, was opened in 1914, with a substantial addition in 1927. And Tiger fans…look out for my upcoming post on the Punt Road Oval! The more recent photo shows where the stand extenstion begins to the left.

Around the Grounds – Victoria Park

Victoria Park: League venue: 1897-1999. League (VFL/AFL) matches: 880 (2 finals, 1901 1st Semi & 1904 1st Semi Finals). Record Attendance: 47,000 v South Melbourne in 1948.

Collingwood’s Victoria Park. It’s iconic. It was more than just a home ground, it was a fortress, a statement of the club that played there. Not pretty but functional. Working class with no frills, yet plenty of character. It was the most feared ground for opposition players and fans alike, in a bygone day when a home ground advantage meant something more than your cheer squad getting a choice of which end to sit.

I never saw a league match at Vic Park. Dad wasn’t keen on taking me there for reasons which I don’t blame him, and by the time I could go to the footy on my own it was only used sporadically for games against Fremantle and the Crows. I’ve since been lucky enough to play a number of games on the old ground for the Western Storm in the Reclink competition.

Shortly after the Pies had left the old ground for their shiny new Lexus Centre, it was in a state of decay. Used by the VFL umpires to train on, it’s future was uncertain. It seemed unfathomable to this writer that such a landmark was so easliy pushed aside. Sanity has since prevailed, but more on that later. I took a series of photos as I’m sure a few Collingwood supporters also did. The remenants of a leage ground (since refurbished) remained.

This is the view (above) of Vic Park that captured me as a child. Whilst dad didn’t take me to games here, he often took the chance to take us for a look around the old grounds. What I loved and still do was the overhang of the grandstand onto the street. Its imposing. I was also particularly fond of Lorraine Wilson’s childrens footy books. From her 1982 ‘Come on the Pies’ book, here is a fantastic illustration by Jack Newnham of the Sherrin stand, with all it’s overhang glorified.

 The old wall, a long forgotten feature at many VFL and VFA gronds, was still standing when I took these photos, and sections of it still stand today. This was one of the last remaining walls of it’s type, with Punt Road, Williamstown and Fitzroy amongst the many to have bitten the dust. I love the ‘fortress’ that it, along with the barbed wire, provided. It’s a far cry from the modern day ‘concourse….’ I shudder when I hear that word.

Here are some of the entry points to the ground. As it was used up until 1999, the signage was in good condition and fairly up to date. 

I think Vic Park may have been the first league ground to actually introduce a spacious concourse as seen below! This would fit with current stadia regulations surely, although perhaps there’s not enough modern art and fast food outlets? As I said, it wasn’t beautiful, but it did the job.

Once in the ground, there were nooks and cranny’s aplently to exlore. The two photos below were taken under the Rush stand. Collinwood made sure you never forgot where you were, taking any and every opportunity to stick up the black and white stripes. The Rush Stand was hardly a stand, more a terraced outer with a bit of shelter, and plenty of what the photo on the bottom right says…standing room!

This is taken out the back of the Rush Stand as it joins with the hill behind the goals at the Yarra Falls end. I love the terrace houses you can see in the background, the same houses you can see in old photographs of the ground. The shot beside it shows the old scoreboard from behind, amidst the ghostly gums.


Entering any ground from the darkness below has me wide-eyed like a 10 year old. With the plethora of concrete, black and white, the sudden appearance of green really breaks the monotony. 

When I took these photos, Collingwood had just left, and with them had gone what seating the Rush stand had, along with the players names that adorned the Rush, Ryder and Sherrin Stands. The surface still looked in pretty decent condition.

 The precurser to the Sherrin Stand (above), the old Ladies Stand, is captured beautifully here by Ainsley Walters (below).

pic from http://www.neridahmcmullin.com/page/ainsley_walters.html

The old scoreboard, since demolished, stood atop one-eye hill. Many Pie fans wish that it had been refurbished, but it was deemed a health and safety hazard. It’s a shame to see these old scoreboards knocked down all over the place, but I guess that’s progress! To the right of that is a bit of broken seating from the Rush stand which I helped myself to. Seats numbers 75-77, they may have been your seats!

Below that is the since refurbished Ryder Stand, now complete with new VFL coaching facilities and wheelchair access, and to the left we see the old social club form behind. As a stark reminder of Collingwood’s seemingly abrupt leaving of Vic Park, this shot captures where the logo had been removed, only to see an older one it had been covering, if you look closely!

For a more comprehensive look at Victoria Park’s scoreboard and the modern artwork which now stands in its place, check out Vin Maskell’s blog Scoreboard Pressure. Click here for the old scoreboard and here for a piece on how the new sculpture was conceived.

Photo by Anderson Hunt
Whilst fossicking around Vic Park I also found a whole lot of rubbish carelessly ‘disposed’ of by the recently vacated Collingwood F.C. Among them were some notes from I guess a team meeting. I’m sure they’re more into interactive whiteboards and the like now, but some things remain the same.

DESIRE INDICATORS ARE A KEY TO OUR VICTORY…pretty much ‘have a crack!’

And what of Vic Park now? The Pies have returned in the form of their own ‘reserves’ or ‘VFL’ team, who now play home games at the ground. The Rush Stand has come down but the others remain, and the place has been done up nicely. For more on that check out Collingwood and footy nut Jeff Dowsing’s piece on the Footy Almanac website. To get you in the mood, below is some of his pictorial work with the refurbished ticket box, before and after.

No set of footy fans were as connected to their home ground as the Pies were to theirs, with websites, artwork and poetry now devoted to Victoria Park. Even though I follow Richmond, I’m disappointed that I never saw a league match played there, hostile as it may have been and no doubt a feather in the away fans cap should they have survived. The refurbishment is certainly respectful of the past, something I wish all Melbourne clubs would consider as their grounds are no longer useful playing venues. A leaf could be taken out of Collingwood’s book on this one.

I’ll give the last word to a fanatical Magpie fan with a spray can…


Make sure you check out the comprehensive and fantastic Victoria Park website, full of stories, pictures, history, memories, video clips and more, all devoted to Collingwood’s spiritual home!

A couple of panorama’s I put together of Vic Park circa 2005. Above is from the social club, below from the Sherrin Stand.

Home & Away #5 Lakeside Oval

Lakeside Oval: League venue: 1897-1981. League (VFL/AFL) matches: 704 (7 finals, including 1899 & 1901 Grand Finals). Record Attendance: 40,401, South Melb v St.Kilda, 1923


 This is part 5 in my series ‘Home & Away’, a look back at Melbourne’s old VFL grounds from a range of photos I took in the mid-2000’s. South Melbourne’s picturesque Lakeside Oval was last used as a league venue in the same year that I was brought into this world, 1981, as South Melbourne was bundled up north to become the Sydney Swans.  As such, I clearly never saw a Sherrin kicked in anger on the famous old ground. In fact I only once saw it as a footy ground before it became rectangularised, when dad took us to look around in the early 1990’s. I remember standing in the shadows of the old stand and dad being pleased that the tunnel in the outer terracing still existed. Not for long.

An very rare aerial shot of the Lake Oval dated between 1920-1940. Just over the back of the ground you can make out the newly planted palm trees which still standtoday. Image courtesy of http://www.austadiums.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1663

 I ventured down to the Lake Oval during grand final week of 2005, desperate to soak up something of the Swans past to  make relevant the impending ‘interstate’ grand final. I know that’s a very Victorian-centric mindset, but it’s what I needed to do to get myself up! Now there may have been just the old stand left, but I intended to explore it as far as was reasonable. But to set the scene, here is some old ‘Bloods’ passion which was bursting out!

The view down to Albert Park from Clarendon Street South Melbourne is still dominated by the 1926 old red brick stand. 

 Note the car in the bottom corner? Well that was an Albert Park worker who had come to paint over this battle cry. Have they no sense of theatre?

The oval, which is now home to Athletics Victoria, has been been spruced up somewhat. The soccer pictch remains, although a runnning track around it has made for an oval  shape returning to the venue, along with the name reverting to Lakeside Stadium, having been Bob Jane Stadium for a number of years. But as I took this photo, uncertainty surrounded the future of the grandstand, which was in a state of decay. The council and park were keen to help it on its way down, the Sydney Football Club not so. A compromise was finally reached, saving the stand.

The old stand hanging onto life, and an artists impression of what has since been turned into reality. While it is no longer a grandstand as such, it is far more a part of the oval than when it looked forlornly on at South Melbourne Hallas from the old forward pocket. (The wooden blue bench seats were snapped up from the Waverley Park fire sale!)

Clearly all that was left of South’s old home was the old grandstand. Luckily however there were still traces of days long gone, with various artifacts still remaining, some obvious, some well hidden. Below is a collection of bits and pieces which provides an interesting time capsual. Most if not all of these gems have since been removed with the redevelopment. Here are some fading images from yesteryear.

The old entrance gates and ticket boxes were obviously all locked up, though still proudly wore the fading licks of red South Melbourne paint. These doorways have been maintained in the new structure, far narrower than the modern day door!

From the outside all you could see was a rusty grate and darkness. The flash of my camera revealed some lovely red and white tiling of what could only be the loos. And similarly, the photo below these was another ‘stick the camera under the dark door and see what comes out’ moment. The photo has been significantly brightened and demonstrates how unloved the stand had become.


Then I plucked up some courage. There was an old door which appeared to be heavily locked. However as I fiddled around, I realised I could get it open. I simply could not tell what was in front of me it was that dark, so I quickly headed in and took a few shots with the flash. I had no idea of what or even who was in there, so I quickly departed to inspect my photos. What I found was the old nightclub ‘Redheads’, which operated well before my time but was apparantly quite the place to be!








The 1975 film ‘The Great McCarthy,’ which follows the fortunes of South Melbourne’s gun full-forward recruit from the bush, has some of the most vivid and complete shots of the old Lakeside Oval in what would turn out to be it’s final days. Here are some stills I took off the telly a while back. Also, check out the youtube clip below, where someone has bothered to take all of the best ‘lake oval’ shots and put them into one clip from said movie.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the Night Premiership or Consolation Cup played at South’s Lake Oval between 1956 and 1971. Being the only ground with floodlights, the VFL decided that the teams who missed out on the final four would play off for the ‘best of the rest’ tag under lights! My dad remembers the jubilation he felt in 1962 as Richmond ‘actually won something!’ This was the precurser to what is now the preseason competition, which has become nothing more than an annoyance to fans. But night footy in the 1950’s, though there was the odd dark pocket or four, must have been exciting for Melbournians post-war. Heck… 36,000 turned up for Carlton and North in 1965!

As I drove past recently, the lights (not original) were on at the conclusion of an athletics meet. I quickly snapped this pic to try and somewhat commemorate the old night series at the ground.
Finally, there are some other stands and grouns which share a connection with Lakeside Oval. While SANFL club Norwood’s grandstand is not identical, it is the closest stand that I have come across to South’s old 1926 red brick number. It is essentially the same design, there are just a few ‘frilly’ bits which differ.


image from http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7086/7144620767_b32f2438d1_z.jpg

And just last weekend the family and I took a trip to Maryborough, and decided to drop in on the picturesque Princes Park Oval, complete with resplendent old stand. What interested me however was a plaque which mentioned that this stand was based on South Melbournre’s 1886 stand, precurser to Souths ‘current’ stand, before it burnt down in the 1920’s. What we also noticed were the surrounding street names….Clarendon, Napier, Raglan, Albert, Palmerston, Park…all names of well known South Melburne streets. Whether a coincidence or not, it certainly felt like a little bit of old Emerald Hill as we cruised down Clarendon Street Maryborough.

It’s often said that the coaches box can represent a game of chess, but at the old Lake Oval, you left your chess game at the entrance gate!

Make sure you check out Billy Millers wonderful videos on all the old VFL grounds.


And a lovely little timelapse of the old footy come soccer ground becoming Victoria’s premier athletics track


With a little help from my friends…

Football Grounds of Melbourne, Caruso, Fiddian and Main.

Home & Away #4 Arden Street Oval

Arden Street: League venue: 1925-1985. League (VFL/AFL) matches: 529 . Record Attendance: 35,000-North Melbourne v Carlton, 1949.

Melbourne’s football grounds tend to reflect the suburb in which they are found. As I’ve already shown you, Glenferrie Oval, in the leafy, well to do suburb of Hawthorn boasted an art-deco stand, while Fitzroy, Melbourne’s first suburb, with somewhat a bohemian past boasted two elegant pavilions, one of which still stands.

North Melbourne’s Arden Street oval on the other hand mirrors it’s working class roots. Much like Footscray’s Western Oval and Collingwood’s Victoria Park, Arden Street was a no-frills football ground with plenty of concrete and grit. It was practical, yet still charming in it’s simplicity.

 To demonstrate Arden Street’s lack of outstanding features, it was an object separate to the ground itself which is still remembered as it’s most endearing feature; a gigantic gasometer which towered over the outer wing. 

The gasometer overlooking Arden St. Image from –http://www.footballinvective.com/2005/0508.html

The gasometer however is long gone, the humble little ground outlasting it’s neighbour. The old stand has made way for North Melbourne’s new training facility, with very little remaining to suggest league football was played at this ground. A few years back I made a few trips to Arden Street, and was able to capture the decaying ruins of a league venue. Being too young to have ever attended or been aware of a match at Arden St, it was with some level of mystery that I ventured to North Melbourne’s spiritual home. Here’s how the ground stood just 5 years ago.

Firstly the old stand, what I would term a very ‘northern suburbs’ pavillion, much the same design as Carlton’s late Heatley Stand and what’s left of Coburg’s grandstand. Incidentally, North used Coburg City Oval as it’s home ground for season 1965, yet returned home the following year.

With the old grandstand still standing proud, though blocked off from the public, this is Arden Street looking much as it had as a league venue, complete with the old undercover betting ring behind the old stand which was in place for the greyhound races that used to grace the ground. It was destroyed by fire in 2006, though its days were numbered.

This is a snap taken through the old social club-come-gymnasium window. North Melbourne produced some amazing results in the 1990’s considering their facilities. As North players said throughout their successful era, the “weights are just as heavy as West Coast’s.”

North was renowned for playing hard both on and off the field, yet surely the gymnasium in the bar was taking it a step too far!

As you can see below, the old grandstand was in a state of decay, and though I never like to see a grandstand demolished, what’s more important to me is that North Melbourne is still based at Arden Street Oval. Bulldozing the existing facilities and building up to date ones were the only way that North could stay in it’s own suburb. In a nice touch however, many of the old bricks were used in the new structure.

A feature of the ground which I loved was the old entrance next to the social club. It looks to me as though this was one of the last additions to Arden Street as a league venue, coming across as very ’70’s. And what I love here is the glimpse it gives us into 1985, the last year Arden Street was used as a league venue:

Adults $7, Pensioners/Children just $1.00!

Ah…the magic of entering the ground and heading up the stairs to be confronted by the vast field is displayed beautifully here, a feature at many old league and association grounds, and football grounds the world over.

The old players race is about the last remaining feature from days past, other than the oval itself and the grassy contours which once stood as gravelly terraces. The scoreboard and covered shelter areas are long gone and the ground itself has been opened to the public. The seating along the boundary fence also remains, and you can see by the below photo what I meant when I said that Arden Street was a ‘no-frills’ affair.

As I’ve already mentioned, little is left of the outer other than the grassy hills which have replaced the concrete wonderland, so I was surprised to find this little gem which has survived the passages of time. The old ‘Dry Area’ sign still remains at the top of the hill on the outer side, and I had to remove a small branch or two to make the sign visible. The standing room ‘sheds’ that stood on the wing and behind the goals were demolished after the Bradford City fire in England, deemed a fire hazard.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with the words of football great Ron Barassi. This is one of Ron’s quarter time speeches as coach of North Melbourne in the centre of Arden Street oval during the late 1970’s. Let’s just say that Ron did not hold back for the camera! As Ron rants, make sure you take in the footage of old Arden Street as a league venue, the life and colour that once adorned the old ground. Next time you drive past Arden Street, Victoria Park or Windy Hill, it’s worth remembering the contribution they made to football in Victoria. We outgrew them, but they shouldn’t be forgotten.

For more on Arden Street, in particular the scoreboard, check out scoreboard pressure


With a little help from my friends…



Home & Away #2 Glenferrie Oval

Glenferrie Oval: League venue: 1925-1973. League (VFL/AFL) matches: 443. Record Attendance: 36,000-Haw v Carl, 1965.

This is part 2 of my series ‘Home and Away’- a look back at Melbourne’s grounds

Glenferrie Oval. I must have passed it by train a thousand times. I’ve heard many a father trying to convince their unbelieving youngsters that Hawthorn actually used to play games down there on that skinny patch of grass, my own father included. It is hard to imagine that 36,000 once managed to cram into that space.

Surely the most unique of Melbourne’s league football grounds, Glenferrie Oval was opened in 1906, the Hawthorn Football club finally settling there after numerous homes previously. Flanked by train tracks and Linda Crescent, the oval took on an unusually narrow shape, and spectator facilities on the wings were rather creative.

Hawthorn, until recently, had one of the smaller followings of the Melbourne clubs. Having joined the league along with Footscray and North Melbourne in 1925, with the VFL nearly three decades old, these three clubs found it hard to attract large supporter bases. While North and Footscray still struggle with this, Hawthorn’s astonishing success from 1961 (10 flags and at the least one flag in each decade since) has finally seen it become a genuinely big club. It was the first of the three 1925 “newcomers” to outgrow it’s original home, leaving in 1973. However until that point, Glenferrie Oval had been apt in its size.

The grounds first main grandstand, as opposed to pavilion, was an old wooden stand transported to the ground from the old East Melbourne Cricket ground upon it’s demise in1921, standing until the 1960’s, when it made way for the Dr A.S. Ferguson stand…which has since been cut in half!

Above is the old wooden stand, East Melb C.G on the left, later at Glenferrie on the right. Below is the Dr Ferguson stand, which has been neatly halved since its glory days.

The classic art deco styled Michael Tuck stand, built in 1938, was clearly given it’s name in retrospect, as Michael was still some decades from making his debut. The ‘red-brick stand’ as it was known, to me defines Glenferrie Oval. It is superb. Just walking up the stairwell and into the upper tier actually gives me goosebumps. My wife does not understand this phenomenon.

It oozes cinematic charm and elegance, a far cry from the simplistic yet still charming stands which adorned the more working class suburban grounds. The stand has gained recognition world-wide for its unique design and is acknowledged as an art deco design of significance.

Here is a link to a fantastic article on the art deco stand at Glenferrie by Paul Daffey

On one of my trips to Glenferrie Oval to take pictures several years ago, I was snooping around as per usual. I’m always looking for that odd little feature which I’d never seen before. Amid my treasure hunt, I was startled by an older guy who popped his head through one of the grandstand nooks to ask what I was doing. My natural thought was that I was an imposition, about to be told in no uncertain terms to buzz off. With Hawthorn still using the ground as a training facility, my Richmond polo shirt would surely not aid my cause.

However my anxieties were soon at ease, as this gentleman was clearly no threat. In fact I recognised him instantly as Graham Arthur, captain of Hawthorns first flag in 1961. And what did he want? He wondered if I’d like a tour through the ground. Wonderful. I hadn’t let on as yet that I knew who he was, and he’s not the type to parade himself around. Introducing himself simply as Graham however confirmed my near-certain suspicion.

Graham Arthur, still helping the club out at Waverley Park. Photo courtesy or hawthornfc.com.au

As we wound the narrow corridors of the old red-brick stand, it was as if in a time warp. There were signs of current day things, players boots lying here or there, but the walls were filled with old stories. Graham led me around, showing me this and that, still not feeling the need to let on who he was. I’m sure he assumed I wouldn’t have know him anyway, yet I have a keen feel for the games history and study it religiously.

Up musty stair cases, winding this way and that, we came to a room out the back where the trainers put on a barbecue and beer night after training every Thursday. Players, Graham told me, were often in attendance. The very notion in the present day seems preposterous, yet it was a different place and time. It was in this room that Graham took me to a picture on the wall of a young strapping man, clad in brown and gold, sending the air-conveyence closer to goal. I was sensing a reveal.

“You see that bloke there? Well, you’re talking to him right now.”

Very humble, almost embarrassingly so. I played along with him, feigning surprise, though I still reacted so that he knew that I’d heard of Graham Arthur, to give his ego a little boost. Graham and I continued over to the Dr. Ferguson stand, plain on the outside, yet housing a past players bar and a comprehensive Hawthorn museum, since transported to Waverley park. We finished the ‘tour’, which I must add I paid nothing for, over the road at the old Hawthorn social club, since sold off and demolished. I thanked Graham immensely, and continued on my way. Graham Arthur was so easy to talk to and very humble, and the fact that in retirement he returned to his club to contribute says something about him.

But back to the oval. The Sardine tin, as it was affectionately known, was one of the earlier suburban grounds to bite the dust. With no room to expand the playing surface or spectator facilities, the ground always had a limited lifespan. The Hawks have left, and upon my recent travels past the old ground, it’s looking a bit sad. The turf was the first thing to fall by the wayside, and whilst I am far from impressed with the amount of advertising at AFL grounds, jumpers, shorts, even the Sherrin, this tired little ground seemed somewhat lifeless now that even the advertising hoardings no longer lived there. I guess it served as a stark reminder that Glenferrie Oval no longer plays a part in league football.

While the future of the ground is somewhat uncertain, what with it being prime real estate, thankfully the red-brick stand carries a heritage listing, meaning it at least will be safe. And as the years go on and I pass the ground with my own rug-rats in toe, I’ll point out the high-rise suburb that used to be Glenferrie Oval, with the seemingly out of place art deco grandstand to the side of it and say…

“Hawthorn used to play there kids.”

“Yeah right dad!”

Here are some more photos I took around 2004-06

With a little help from my friends…

Book:We are Hawthorn, http://hawthornfc.com.au, Football Grounds in Melbourne, Santo Caruso, http://stats.rleague.com/afl/afl_index.html


Also, check out these fantastic links-

Scoreboard Pressure’s look at Glenferrie scoreboards over the years…






Another fantastic video showcasing Glenferrie circa 1969…a whole quarter! Courtesy of Damian Watson on the Footy Almanac website.