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.

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.  

Happy Snap #12 My favourite Player

Stuart Maxfield and yours truly, circa 1994…as if the hair cuts didn’t give that away!

I think that this photograph speaks for itself. The year is 1994. It is my 13th birthday. As a gift of sorts, I was taken to Richmond training at Punt Road. Of course, training was still a Tuesday  and Thursday night affair hence all the darkness.

Richmond had just won four matches on the trot, in what was to that stage by far the most successful and exciting period I had encountered as a young Richmondite. The boys had just defeated Adelaide at Football Park, a year after being embarrassed at the same venue by 137 points. We went on to finish 9th….a joke now but a vast improvement at the time.

Stuart Maxfield. I have never had a player before or since I have loved as much. This may seem odd to some while others may relate. He was scruffy and a bit wild. He thumped the ball onto his boot in the strangest of fashions, and when it worked he could thump it 65 metres. At times it didn’t work but that didn’t bother me. I had his number 27 on my short sleeved guernsey. I bought the numbers and sewed them on myself. The 7 fell off.

I was heartbroken when, after season 1995, which had been a wild and heady time for this young Tiger, both he and coach John Northey departed Punt Road… Stu to Sydney and Northey to Brisbane. And so it came to be that in 1996, I ventured to Waverley Park to see Maxfield in red and white take the field against Richmond. A truly odd sensation. But the game is the game, and once the ball was bounced, it was only a Richmond victory that occupied my thought.

However I did smash my flag in two pieces at the games conclusion, perhaps a mixture of anguish that Chris Bond’s ‘winning’ goal had been disallowed and the subconscious stress of watching my favourite player running around for the opposition.

Seeing Stuart Maxfield named as captain of the Sydney Swans late in his career gave me a sense of pride. Although I’d far prefer that he’d stayed at Tigerland, he sensed that Sydney would provide him with more options, and it appeared to happen that way. It would have been lovely to see him lift the Swans 2005 premiership cup aloft, yet injury cruelled him at the wrong time. I still comfort myself with the fact that he was officially the captain of a club the year it won a premiership.

Stu Maxfield…a fine footballer.

Photo taken by mum…Joy Carr

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.