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.

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Home and Away Glog!

Just what is a glog? Great question. It’s kind of like an interactive way of displaying….oh heck, just have a look at one!

Home and Away Glog

Unfortunately it is ‘un-embedable’ at this point, so a screen shot will have to. Below you can see what I’ve done, it’s a map of the rail network in Melbourne (adding in the defunct train lines in MSPaint) with a little footy on all the stations of the traditional Melbourne league venues. Great. But once you’re in the gloggy thing, click on the footy and you get taken to my post on that particular ground.  

 I haven’t gotten around all of the grounds as yet, so if you click on a station/footy and nothing happens, then just sit tight, I’m getting through them. There’s a Moorabbin one brewing as we speak!

Once I’ve finished my series on the old VFL grounds, it’s then to the VFA and beyond!

May Glog bless you one and all

Nice Statistic – Hawthorn’s Premiership Gold

History. Records. Come Saturday afternoon at the MCG, the players won’t be giving these two words a thought in the world and rightly so. It is the now that they must live in. But alas, I am not playing in the AFL Grand Final, and therefore wish to delve into the past.

Should Hawthorn win the 2012 premiership, they will break a long held, little know record. It has been well documented that Hawthorn has won at least one premiership in every decade since the 1960’s, which equals Melbourne’s record of 5 straight decades with at least one premiership (1920’s-1960’s.) Should Hawthorn overcome the Bloods on Saturday, they will become the first VFL/AFL team to claim premierships in six consecutive decades, a truly remarkable feat of sustained success.


To illustrate, the three most successful clubs, Essendon, Carlton and Collingwood, have at best managed just four consecutive premiership yielding decades, giving an idea of just how successful the Hawthorn Football Club has become since John Kennedy took a hold of them and since they changed from Mustard Pots and Mayblooms into predatorial Hawks.

What makes it all the more astonishing is the meagre beginnings of the club. Formed in 1902, the club unsuccessfully progressed through the Metropolitan league, the VFA and into the VFL, all with a bare trophy cabinet. Once in the VFL, they spent the 1920’s-1950’s as a cellar dweller, and along with the other 1925 inclusions to the league, Footscray and North Melbourne, didn’t look like winning a premiership.

Footscray was the first of this trio to break through for a flag in 1954. But just seven years later in 1961, as both Hawthorn and Footscray met on the big day, it was the ‘underdog’ Hawthorn who were the sentimental favourites, winning their first flag and beginning an astonishing run of success.

But they come up against a formidable foe in Sydney, also once the easybeats of the league. In fact the Swans (continuation of the South Melbourne into the Sydney Football Club) have undergone a transformation not unlike Hawthorn’s in the 1960’s. After six fruitless decades, surpassed only by St.Kilda’s 1890’s-1950’s drought, the Swans shed their easybeat image, internally rebranding themselves as the Bloods, leading to premiership success in 2005.

She’ll be a grand old game come Saturday.

Thanks as always to http://www.footyjumpers.com/ for the Hawthorn logo images!

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.

A Town painted Red, White & Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Happy Snap #11

This is a picture I picked up for $5 at the Don Bosco Op-Shop in Brunswick a year or so ago. My team is not represented, but I love this photo for many reasons, and it now hangs on our kitchen wall. Why do I love it? I’m glad you asked.

Firstly, the old boots. But it’s not just that, it’s the the old, uncluttered woolen jumpers, the old picket fence with no advertising to be seen and the punters standing in the outer. This is a shot from an Essendon v Melbourne match at the old Windy Hill oval. The fact that Barassi (top) played at Melbourne between 1953-1964 places this picture somewhere during that period.

Barassi’s face in fact is what really demands my attention in this photo. You can wax lyrical about his career, but in this single moment you can see all you need to see. Who in this pack of players wants the ball the most? To me, it is clearly Ron. Though out of position, a quick look into those steely eyes suggests he may well have won the contest, or at the very least made life difficult for whoever won the ball. It was in this manner that Barassi continued throughout his career as a player, captain and coach, having a hand in no less than 8 premiership victories.

I am unsure who the surrounding players are, and would appreciate if anyone had any information on who they may be. Purely for interests sake.

Thank you