Back to Suburban Footy

OPEN INVITATION 

 The producers of

boot

and

fmi
Invite you to join them at the first

#BackToSuburbanFooty Day

 5 April 2014  at the Whitten Oval

(10:30 first bounce)

for Footscray  -vs-  Richmond

in the VFL return of ‘Footscray’

to serious competition.

Current Whitten Oval Stand Configuration(Gent Stand on right, Whitten Stand on left)

Head on down to the Whitten Oval for a pleasant Saturday morning of football and and join @theholyboot and @Footy_Maths for the return of Footscray to the Western (Whitten) Oval. We will also be joined by @AndrewGigacz, editor of the AustralianFootball.com site (and keen Bulldog) as well.

Entry is free for Bulldogs members, and for non members it is (as described by the @Footscray_VFL account) a nominal fee.

@Footy_Maths There will be a nominal fee on the gate for non-WB members. Food and beverage outlets will be available.

— Footscray Bulldogs (@Footscray_VFL) February 26, 2014

WHY?

Well, @TheHolyBoot @AndrewGigacz and @Footy_Maths are football fans who have a deep feeling for the old suburban grounds of days past.

And with the Whitten Oval (joined in 2014 by Punt Road Oval) making a return to regular football service, we thought it would be good to turn up, watch footy and talk about it with people we had met on twitter (or read the blogs/sites), but are yet to see face to face

There is nothing else to the day, other than a game of footy and a face to face meet-up / tweet-up, and talk about each others footy experiences.

With the early start, it also makes it easy for all interested fans to get along and not miss any action of the round later in the day.

So, feel free to join us. We will be somewhere around the two players races in front of the Whitten Stand.

Hope to see you there!

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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

http://scoreboardpressure.com/2011/06/22/north-melbourne-victoria/

With a little help from my friends…

http://stats.rleague.com/afl/venues/arden_st.html

http://en.wikipedia.org


Happy Snap #8

Can you spot the inaccuracies in this photograph?

My mother attended this 1975 Essendon v St.Kilda match at the old Windy Hill as an Essendon supporter, but also to watch her work colleague, Colin Carter, play for the Saints. She snapped a few photos from the outer side which I stumbled upon a few years back. With the magic of technology, I pieced them together. To the left you have 2 policeman looking on as the Essendon team runs onto the field, while on the right, play comes to a halt for a ball up. Just in case you were wondering.

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…

http://scoreboardpressure.com/2011/09/14/glenferrie-oval-victoria/

http://www.peterelliston.com/Webpage_Football%201961/index.htm#6

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJVYBhyuDPE

 

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