Richmond v’s Carlton

Mention the football clubs Richmond and Carlton and you’ll get the usual response: halcyon days, the late 60’s and 70’s, Balme and Southby, Walls and Sheedy, Doull and Hart, fierce suburban rivals, Percy Jones and TJ…Helen D’amico.

BOURKE

The halcyon days

That is all well and good, but I’ve only ever read about those ‘good old days’ in books. The ‘Richmond v Carlton’ rivalry has been less glamourous yet no less intense in my years of following the yellow and black.

Being aged just one and blissfully ignorant as the Blues knocked off the Tiges in the 1982 grand final, my first memory of the two clubs is from 1988. Richmond by this stage was a basket case, while Carlton were the reigning premiers. The stage was a Friday night at the MCG, and I stayed up to watch the first half (on delay) at my nana and pa’s house. We moseyed home around the corner at half time, and as I had ‘footy clinic’ in the morning, I had to go to bed. I awoke to find a magical note on the end of my bed. My dad’s capital lettered print simply said;

‘Tigers by 17.’

 I remember that vividly and it still puts a smile on my face. We would often beat Brisbane, St.Kilda and sometimes North, but Carlton?

1988 TIGERS

Michael Laffy gets his handball away in the Tigers upset win in 1988

This ‘win against the odds’ has been the very basis upon which I’ve watched Richmond play the Blues over the years. Two years after the Friday night match, and with another wooden spoon in the bank, we piled into the old Kingswood and headed into the MCG to watch Richmond play the Blues in David Cloke’s 300th match. I distinctly remember my dad, as we wound through the back streets of Richmond, saying words to the effect of “Now John, you know we’re not a very good chance today, don’t you” as if to say ‘don’t get your hopes up son, don’t leave yourself open to being hurt.’

MICHAEL MITCHELL!!

Michael Mitchell gives ‘full back of the century’ a full body ‘don’t argue!’ (1990)

I remember the game well. It was in what I remember as Richmond’s best ‘era’ under Bartlett. Wins against the previous years grand finalist Geelong at Geelong, Sydney and Fitzroy in a 5 week period was unheralded, and the win against Carlton was a ‘back-to-back’ victory. Rare as hens teeth back then. We followed it up with ‘loss, win, loss, win’ pattern to make it 6 wins in 10 weeks. This form was on the back of a young group coming through in Knights, Lambert, Free, Nicholls, Barry Young and the Ryan brothers, ably supported by stalwarts in Flea Weightman, the General, Cloke and Michael Pickering. The nucleus of a promising group which sadly never eventuate as the club’s attentions soon became focussed on keeping itself alive.

Key to our survival was another Richmond v Carlton match, this time a ‘legends match’ fundraiser played at Windy Hill. Just on 20,000 filled the ground, and as I reflect back as an adult I am tickled pink that I was able to see Hart, Barrott, Bourke, Clay, KB and co run around, albeit a little slower and with a little less hair. Except for KB of course. Interestingly, David Cloke played in that match having retired at the end of 1990. He came out of retirement for season 1991 and is possibly the only player to have played in a legends match before the end of his career. His final game in 1991 saw him kick 8 goals and collect the three Brownlow votes in another upset win against, who else, Carlton.

Legends Match 1990

‘Not-so-Bustling’ Billy Barrot chases a loose ball whilst KB and Jon Ronaldson share a joke at ‘training.’

When 1992 rolled around the Tiges again had the pleasure of upsetting the fancied Carlton, sending them from the final 6 with a 3 point win at Waverley Park. Carlton went on to miss the finals by percentage only! Strangely, this was the only occasion our family went to an Essendon game instead of the Richmond, with mum happy to swap her red sash for a yellow one, another closet Richmond fan. I remember a lady with a little radio sitting next to us keeping my updated with the scores once she realised I was a little Richmond devotee. I was at the MCG physically but mentally I was in Mulgrave.

But it’s not just a one-way street of upset. The year 1994 saw Richmond enjoy their best season in years, certainly the first year I could remember us being competitive in a meaningful way. We even won six games on the trot! However, sitting 5th with just two matches to play, Richmond headed to Carlton for what was billed as an old-style suburban battle with the old foe. What unfolded was a 113 point drubbing at the hands of the old Navy Blues. And so began the ‘Ninthmond’ era, with the Tigers missing out on the finals by 6%; the same 6% we lost in that match against the Carlton or as my uncle refers to them, “the forces of evil.”

The following year, 1995, saw both teams improve to such a point where they met mid-season in a top of the table clash. Just two years prior a paltry 6,000 fans attended a Richmond v West Coast match at Princes Park. So the crowd of 84,000 blew this young teens mind, a throwback to ‘the glory days!’ In an enthralling tussle the Blues pulled away late as they steamrolled their way to the premiership. For Richmond, 1995 brought with it a long awaited finals appearance which should have been a foundation for future success. This sadly never eventuated, the club it’s own worst enemy once more as coach Northey left in acrimonious circumstances at season’s end.

The Gieschan years were far from glorious, however when he replaced ‘Carlton man’ Robert Walls as the Tigers caretaker coach in 1997, he propelled us to a series of late season wins, amongst them one of my favourite matches of all time.

In keeping with the theme, this time it was Carlton who simply had to defeat Richmond on their home turf to advance through to the finals. In the last truly ‘suburban battle,’ 35,000 fans crammed into the old ground to see Carlton jump out to a 40 plus point lead. I still pull the old video out every now and then and force myself to watch the first half. It makes watching the second half all the more enjoyable, especially as the commentators turn to talking about Carlton’s finals opponent the next week.

What ensued was a last man standing, nail-biting comeback in which former Blue Ben Harrison kicked the winning goal! Tiges by 2 points with the loudest ‘away cheer’ you’re likely to hear upon the final siren. Whilst we finished a lowly 13th, dragging Carlton down with us at the death presented great satisfaction.

Fast forward to the final match of 1999 and the Giesh had been well and truly unleashed (let go) by Richmond and would soon surface as coach of the umpires! The Blues were grand final bound whilst the Tigers were enduring another mediocre season, but in the spirit of this rivalry as I’ve followed it in my lifetime, the underdogs got up, although the game will forever be remembered as the ‘scoreboard fire’ match!

MCG fire

The final round of 1997 was soon evened up by the Blues, as in 2000 they thwarted Richmond’s attempt at a finals birth, again in the final home and away match of the season. The Tigers needed to beat Carlton to make it, with little percentage separating the Tiges from 8th place Hawthorn. The Tiges lost. The Tiges finished 9th. Again.

It took only a year for Richmond to exact revenge and this time in a footy match with meaning. Just as the teams will compete tomorrow, Richmond versed Carlton in a tough and scrappy 2nd semi-final in front of 83,000 fans. It was a sweet victory, the only finals win that Matthew Richardson and Joel Bowden would enjoy, whilst David Bourke was lucky enough to play also in the 1995 semi-final win against Essendon. Their fathers won 7 Tiger premierships between them.

Rory Hilton

Rory Hilton gets his big bum off the ground in his most important game for Richmond! Kicked the sealer!

However 2001 proved to be false dawn for a number of teams, and the two old ricals plummeted down the ladder to finish in the bottom 3. Both clubs have been slowly trying to claw back ever since. Richmond landed a large blow in 2005 under new coach Wallace, handing Carlton a near 100 point thumping in a false dawn of grand proportions. Then Nathan Brown broke his leg and Plough’s tenure headed steadily south.

A brutal blow was handed by Carlton to Richmond in the much-hyped ‘Ben Cousins’ match, where Richmond fans displayed how desperate they were for anything that could be claimed as a success. Pitted in front of a full MCG it was billed as the biggest build up to a non-finals match the game had seen. Carlton smashed the Tiges in demoralising fashion and I clearly remember a Carlton supporter behind me bellowing “Time for another 5 year plan Richmond!” It hurt because I knew it was true. That’s why I’m not looking forward to Sunday.

The two most recent blows handed to Richmond have actually come from the club formerly know as the Preston Bullants. Not once, but twice in the past 12 months a severely undermanned Carlton have beaten the more fancied Tigers, who in both instances had the match seemingly in their keeping. The fragility of Richmond on display for all to see. While last years loss, compounded with a loss against the Suns from another ‘unlosable’ position, saw us again miss out on finals action, this year’s loss to an undermanned Carlton fortunately was not enough to knock us out of finals contention. However the Blues still get their chance on Sunday, as do the Tigers for redemption.

I haven’t enjoyed this week to be honest. A loss to ‘ninth’ placed Carlton would be the ultimate insult and irony given the wretched run with ‘ninth’ Carlton inflicted upon Richmond way back in 1994. It’s also ironic that when we finally did make the finals, the 9th team also qualified due to Essendon’s disqualification.

Anyway, I’ll be anxiously watching on from level two of the Olympic stand with my keen six year old daughter beside me, the same spot my dad stood to watch the Tigers beat the Blues in 1969. Here’s to shaking off the shackles of failure, but my lid is still firm shut.

Carn’ the Tiges!

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An ode or three to the puddle at the Peanut Farm

Peanut Farm

Photograph by @dugaldjellie-The Peanut Farm Reserve, St.Kilda

They say that a picture tells 1000 words, but to spin that notion on it’s head, I put the call out on twitter yesterday to capture the essence of this image in just 140 characters in the form of an ode, a verse, a rhyme or a little ditty. And I was not disappointed.

It is a snap during the third term of a match at St.Kilda City’s famous Peanut Farm Reserve, a venue I have myself graced more than once playing for the Western Storm in the mid-week Reclink competition. It’s fair to say that while there are worse surfaces getting about, it’s hardly a bowling green.

But on with the show, and here are some of the fantastic entries:

PEANUT FARM FUDDLE 1

PEANUT FARM FUDDLE 2So there you have it. Creativity reigned supreme. If I had to pick a winner, I think I’d have to split it between @ASpeedingCar’s Chelsea Roffey ditty and @TheRecoverySess’s torpedoes to speedos madness…purely because I chuckled aloud to those two entries. But they all kept me very entertained. We even dabbled in politics, a first on this sight I believe!

If you feel inspired, please leave your own ditty/ode/poem in the comments section.

The day I saw the Tigers win the flag

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

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

Boots Rich v NM record 1

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

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

BOOT RECORD COMPILE

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

Nana and pa tip tops

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

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

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

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

Rich v NM 1989 score

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

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

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

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

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

Glorious

WAVERLEY 2323

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

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

Footy Drawings: the sights, the colour, the smells

HB drawing 7

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

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

HB prep footy

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

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

@MicLooby Swans

Goodsey, Confetti and Cup

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

HB drawing 10

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

Dave combine

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

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

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

@4Boat

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

@4Boat kids cards

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

HB drawings 6

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

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

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

Hawker & Picken

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

@M_itch 2

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

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

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

HB Pete conglomorate

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

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

MervHobbsBuddyMerve Hobbs       Danny Hargrave!

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

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

HB drawings Mol

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

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

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

HB Jeff Dowsing pics

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

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

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

HB Jeff MCG

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

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

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.  

Around the Grounds – Moorabbin

Moorabbin Oval: League venue: 1965-1992. League (VFL/AFL) matches: 254. Record Attendance: 51,370 St.Kilda v Collingwood, round 1,1965 (league debut)

Painting of the decaying Moorabbin stands by David Hurwitz.

1965: a watershed year for the Victorian Football League. It can be argued that this year was the birth of the modern game. Barassi threw the long held ideal of loyalty into disarray, while three teams vacated their traditional homes in search of greener pastures. While North’s venture to VFA side Coburg’s ‘City Oval’ was short lived, Richmond’s move to the MCG propelled it to it’s most successful period, as did St.Kilda’s move from their home by the sea to Moorabbin, another VFA ground taken over by a league club, another glimpse into the future.

St.Kilda grand final training, 2010, photo by Jason from http://www.stkildamatchwornguernsey.com/ (Saints fans will enjoy his site!)

The Moorabbin Football Ground was previously home to VFA team the Moorabbin Kangaroos. Cutting a long story short, St.Kilda saw that the south east of Melbourne was in effect, unclaimed territory, and decided upon the shift. Though the move to Moorabbin brought with it heartache, all was quickly forgotten as St.Kilda made back-to-back-back grand finals, winning their one and only flag in 1966.

You can track St.Kilda F.C’s movement’s in the below diagram I put together.

As you can see from the recently demolished stands at Moorabbin, the intention appears to have been to gradually morph St.Kilda into the Moorabbin Football Club, but this clearly never eventuated.

Whilst the ground’s league lifespan was short, less than 30 years, it truly found a place in the heart of St.Kilda fans. Though not quite to the level which Victoria Park has entered football folklore, Moorabbin has still spawned it’s fair share of paintings and literature, holding a certain dreamtime quality for fans of the red white and black.

On the left is another painting from David Hurwitz, painted in a very similar position to which I took the photo on the right! Great minds think alike I guess.

This post isn’t about the Animal Enclosure, the old Moorabbin nightclub or the muddy centre square. Heck, it’s not even about the Jeff Fehring goal from behind the centre! (However if you want a sneaky look, here it is!)

This is a collection of pictures I took of the ground in 2006, in a desperate bid to photographically archive all the old league grounds in Melbourne. As it turns out, much of what I captured has since been demolished, and many links to the past now gone. It seems a number of footy fans shared my vision, and some of their photos and paintings have helped shape this post.

My dad always said that Moorabbin seemed odd to him as it jutted out of the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne; most other grounds were flanked by old hotels, old train stations and old terrace houses. Moorabbin was surrounded by the cream brick veneer housing of an ever-expanding city.

As I circled the ground before entering, I snapped one of the old entrance gates. On closer inspection, it became quite clear that it was occupied, and though I was keen to document all that I could, I decided to continue on.

And what this above photo makes me realise? That modern football stadia is severely lacking in barbed wire!

As I entered the ground from the Linton St side, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of St.Kilda’s gymnasium of the time. Even though this was six or so years ago, it was severely behind other clubs and their advanced setups. This was open to the elements!

What struck me about Moorabbin was the size. The stand which stretched from the wing to behind the goals (below) was very large for a suburban ground, and the terraced outer was rather expansive. It begs the question of why the club actually moved to Waverley Park in 1993. Geelong’s Kardinia Park is nearly three quarters through a long-term redevelopment, the club reaping the benefits of being able to sell reserved-seat tickets to their matches. It is a shame that a ground such as Moorabbin has not shared the same fate.

The grandstand offered plenty of cover and very good views. However, the photo at the bottom left is what I love about the old footy grounds…if you needed a coaches box, you built it on top of the stand, creating a haphazard atmosphere which brought with it great character. A combination of weatherboard, tin, steel and brick!

Now to the outer. This is where the majority of footy fans have watched the action for the best part of 150 years. It’s now all but a relic of the past. Moorabbin’s expansive outer bore many a story, tears of joy and despair, the odd laugh and a round of fisticuffs or two. To illustrate, here’s how St.Kilda diehard Matthew Hardy’s remembered his first experience of the outer at Moorabbin from his wonderful (and highly recommended) book ‘Saturday Afternoon Fever

I love this shot taken by supporter and photographer Berk McGowan of the overgrown mound behind the outer, the scoreboard still erect and the iconic red iron work. It really captures both present and past. (Check out www.berkmcgowanphotography.com)

photo supplied by Berk McGowan Photography

On my explorations, I found my own bit of Moorabbin to take home with me, 2 inch tubular fencing tee piece coupling, with red paint peeling. This was well captured again by Hurwitz’s painting on the left.

 

Here’s the outer side of the Moorabbin footy ground; the wooden seats on the fence for those early enough, looked down upon by the now demolished scoreboard and timeclock. In a great piece on the Moorabbin scoreboard, Vin Maskell looks at it’s history, and where portions of it are now scattered!

  

Old footy grounds were not just protected by barbed wire. Officious and over-zealous signage adorned many on old venue, and it’s hard to imagine it not been written by a gnarly old stallwart. Consider the following examples…the second is from the collection of Tim Best, a Saint fan who used to sell the footy record outside the ground!

 

And what post on Moorabbin would be complete without at least a view from one of the most notoriously vicious and parochial patches of terracing Australian Football has know, the old Animal Enclosure. The name says it all, it was not for the feint-hearted! Here’s a wonderful piece on the Animal closure by Paul Daffey.

Photograph by Tim Best. For more of his photographic take on Moorabbin Oval, click HERE.

While the Saints now train at the Seaford version of Linen House Oval (I liked how ‘Linen’ was so close to ‘Linton’) they still maintain a presence at Moorabbin. Only the Huggins stand remains, yet where terraces and stands once stood, there are now grassy embankments, maintaining the feel of how it once was. With light towers erected for baseball in the 1990’s, Football Victoria could do worse than considering it as a home for VFL football, however I can’t see this eventuating.

The Saints now play at the Docklands, which is far closer to their birthplace, St.Kilda, than Moorabbin, Waverley and Seaford combined. Yet a ‘home ground’ in Melbourne is nothing more than a token gesture these days, and nothing will match the days at the Junction and then Moorabbin. But that’s progress, progress which can be traced back to the Saints pioneering move to Moorabbin in the first place. Leaving wasn’t easy in 1992. There was much supporter angst, yet to no avail. Again consider the words of Matthew Hardy when it came to the last match at the ground in 1992.

And here’s a great clip from the last day at the ground.

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So to sum up the Moorabbin Football Ground as a league venue, I will simply say this…

HERE FOR A GOOD TIME, NOT A LONG TIME

With a little help from my friends…

As always….http://stats.rleague.com/afl/venues/moorabbin_oval.html

Artist & Pies fan David Hurwitz. Please contact him if you are interested in any of his remaining Moorabbin works. They’d make a sensational addition to the Saints fan collection. You can visit his website and contact David. http://www.davidhurwitz.com.au

All photographs by John Carr unless otherwise stated.

Happy Snap #16 VFL Car Park

This car used to be parked across the road from us and I passed it a million times. Then one day I thought….why not take a photo.

Not only is it a Nissan Pulsar from the late 80’s, this little sticker allowed entry into VFL Parks car park, either of two exits! What was missing was the ‘enter at risk of not getting out again before tomorrow’ slogan which we came to know so well.