Wednesday 21st October, 2020

Footscray Books

FOOTSCRAY FOOTBALL CLUB BOOKS

There is not a huge amount of books devoted to the Footscray Football Club or its players, but the ones that do are quite good. Below is a listing of the books that I have in my collection.

 
The Bulldog Book – Sons of the ‘Scray (1883-1983)

The Bulldog Book

This was I believe a club organised publication. The researcher and author was football journalist, Greg Hobbs. It has almost 100 pages and is an excellent read. Made for the club’s Centenary in 1983. The front and back cover consists of Footscray players as they were displayed in football cards. There is an old booklet stapled in the middle, which was a 50 year history of the club. The title of the booklet is –

Fifty Years of Football
Incidents in the Fifty Years History
1883 Of the 1933
Footscray Football Club

In this there is a chapter – ‘Membership Exceeds 6,000.’ In discussing the clubs high membership the passage reads – “The lay-by system for the purchase of members’ tickets was introduced and was a big factor in augmenting the club’s membership, which totaled 6,031 a record not only for the club but also in the history of the Victorian Football League” So assuming that no Sydney rugby team could boast 6,000 members in 1933, it would be fair to say that in that year Footscray was the biggest sporting club in Australia? The last page of Sons of the Scray describes the four night premierships we had won. Those four night flags were in 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1970. Since the night competition was re-introduced in 1977 we have yet to make a Grand Final, let alone win one! Although this book is at least 20 years old, it is well worth buying assuming it is still in good bookstores.

 
Hawkins my story – Both Sides of the Fence

Hawkins - My Story

This autobiography of Doug Hawkins was printed in 1991. The foreword is from David Parkin who never coached Doug except at one off games at state level. His story was told to Michael Stevens the Herald Sun journalist and Footscray supporter. You can easily read this from start to finish in one session. Doug packed so much into his youthful years with his tales of end of season trips and other adventures. This requires a PGR rating as Doug himself suggests on page (viii).
As a junior footballer at Braybrook he was always winning premierships and coming to the Bulldogs for the 1978 season was a big eye opener for Doug. His first match was the opening round of that year at home to North Melbourne. We endured a hiding and this was to be Billy Goggin’s final match as coach. He tells us how he and fellow Braybrook comrade Robert Groenewegen were so affected by the loss. These two paragraphs are from page 28.

“We got beaten in that first game and I came back into the clubrooms and started crying.” “Then I looked around at the other blokes and I got the impression they couldn’t give a rat’s backside.

“Wagon and I were used to success after winning all those premierships at Braybrook. We just didn’t know what it was like to lose and we took defeat pretty hard”

He had to become accustomed to losing as when this book came out in 1991, he had played in all of three finals, all from the one season. A year later he was our captain as another three were added. The final tally of finals for Douglas James Hawkins was to stand at half a dozen, for two victories. He was injured and missed the 1994 straight sets campaign in his last season at Footscray.

Very interesting is the last paragraph of this book, on page 224. This is it-

“Above all my biggest wish is a personal one. I hope that someday in the future my daughter, and further on my Grandchildren and their children can watch the Bulldogs play football at the Western Oval as the Footscray Football Club”
Well I don’t know about the Western Oval, unfortunately that is probably gone, but the other part of his wish wouldn’t be that hard to achieve.

 
Too Tough To Die – Footscray’s Fightback 1989

Too Tough to Die

The story of our 1989 revival from the infamous organised merger/takeover with Fitzroy. Written by Alan Dalton and Kerrie Gordon it provides details of the campaign that stopped the emergence of a new team the Fitzroy Bulldogs. Sadly as I mentioned earlier, eight years later we were playing our home games at Carlton, with Fitzroy being replaced with Western.

Many black and white photographs are woven into the 159 pages. Between pages 89 and 116 are some of the letters that were mailed to the club describing their opinions of the issue. On page 146 it is mentioned how Kerrie and Alan came across the same statistic documented in the Centenary History book as described above about Footscray having in 1933 the highest membership in the league at that time.

The last paragraph of ‘Too Tough To Die’ on page 148 is this-

I well remember Terry Wheeler’s words at the Western Oval Rally. “I believe there’s nothing on this earth that we own. All we do is look after it for our children”. It is up to all of us to make sure that the Footscray Football Club is still playing on the Western Oval, proudly representing the western suburbs for many years to come.

Peter Gordon
Footscray Football Club President, 1990

 
Sons if the ‘Scray Footscray’s Finest 50

Sons of Scray - Footscray's Finest 50

The best Footscray players ranked from number one to fifty. This book came out in 1994, on Wednesday 16th March to be precise, (I know this because I bought it the day it came out.) The cost was $19.54 (does anyone wonder how that price was selected!)

Whenever people rank their best team or players it always create debate over who should or should not have been included. The authors are journalists Mark Buttler (a Richmond fan) and Steven Milne who is well known as a staunch Footscray man.

A very entertaining book which is a must for all Bulldog fans. It contains plenty of interesting anecdotes from the players. The late Wally Donald’s opinion that we should have won the premiership a year earlier in 1953 sticks in my mind alongside David Thorpe’s reasons for leaving. You can find out what Alby Morrison was doing on Saturday 25th September 1954. Back to Wally Donald a great trivia question is where did he kick his one and only goal in 207 games? This book will provide the answer.

A very sad part about this book when you read it now, is how so many of the players have died since 1994 when it hit the shelves. Teddy Whitten, Allan Hopkins, Norm Ware, Harry Hickey, Alby Morrison, Wally Donald, John Jillard and maybe one more (1 of the 50 are no longer with us).

 
Southern Sky, Western Oval – A year inside league football

Southern Sky, Western Oval

Written by Martin Flanagan, this was his story about the 1993 season. The coach Terry Wheeler and club management gave Flanagan special access for this study of the club from the inside. It is quite interesting, although he seems to enjoy talking about the Eastern Magpies too much for a book about Footscray. Does make one point though that is spot on, that is the nicknames our players have. He questions how and why so many of our players have nicknames attributed to footballers from other clubs? Mark Hunter is Kenny after Kenny Hunter from Carlton, Leon Cameron is baker after Essendon’s Leon Baker and Keenan Reynolds is Crackers after journeyman footballer Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan .We are not good on nicknames are we? I hate the name given to Rohan Smith, ‘Bubba’ I suppose if he wasn’t the B word he would be Smithy?

 
BULLDOGS 95 – All the action from Footscray Football Club’s 1995 season

Bulldogs '95

The front cover shows Scott West with the ball as our Melbourne opponents look on during our round four meeting at Optus Oval. There is a smaller photo introducing the special tribute to Ted Whitten. The back cover has the photograph of Tony Liberatore and Mark Hunter tussling for the ball with some Fitzroy opponents one of whom I’m sure is our old boy Simon Atkins in our ‘away’ fixture at ‘home’ This book is the review of the 1995 season and the comment on the back cover is –

‘If you’re a Footscray fan, you cannot do without Bulldogs 95, the only official club publication that records the 1995 season. All the action – on and off the field- and dozens of sensational photos of your Bulldog heroes in action.’

This was a club publication, from 1995 providing the seasons review of that year. The text is from Herald Sun columnist and lifelong Footscray supporter Ross Brundrett. A fine book of 160 pages, with many large photographs .It was a weird year 1995, some glorious victories in particular our first ever success in Perth against the West Coast and a memorable afternoon at Kardinia Park in the days when we just did not win there. It was the first time that we had defeated Hawthorn twice in the same season since 1962. How about our home game in which we were the away team in this Fitzroy’s second and second last year at the Western Oval. Doug Hawkins playing in a Footscray game- ‘for our opponents’ Yes it was an unusual year and they were the good points. I have to mention unfortunately the shockers like the maulings at home from Geelong and the home game that we transferred to the MCG that resulted in a 98 point defeat from the eventual premiers Carlton (There is an error here as our score is recorded as 8.12.80, when it should read 8.12.60. This implies the defeat was 78 points rather than the 98 points that it actually was). Remember our second game in Perth in which the Dockers defeated us, three days after the death of Teddy Whitten? Prior to this game there was the ludicrous draw at Waverley with Collingwood after racing to a lead of 35 points early in the last quarter.

Now off the track here but is it just my view or can someone explain how every drawn game we have taken part in, is a win thrown away? Of all the draws I have seen it appears to me that the Steve McPherson goal after the siren against North at the MCG in 1987 is the only drawn game that I haven’t walked out feeling like it was a loss. The West Coast in Perth 2003, Western Bombers at the Docklands in 2002, going right back to the Essendon game at home in 1979 when I think it was the Bombers, Peter Besanko, who erased our one point lead by kicking a behind to the Barkly Street end just before the siren? Then came the most frustrating and worst of them all, Round 4 1996 v Hawthorn at home. Yes I know this was nearly a loss as the Hawks missed an easy near open goal that would have won them the game just on the siren, but how did we let them get back in it and surrender so meekly? I will just have to stick with McPherson and 1987 and the Carlton round 22 of 1976 game that ensured our entry into the finals.

Back to the actual book and you may like to read the player profiles. One of the questions asked was ‘Favourite Sporting Identity and Why?’ The two most common offerings were Michael Jordan and Trevor Hendy. At least Mark Hunter and Caesar Romero gave different and original answers to this.

With the question about ‘The Song I Sing at Karaoke Nights’ the response was mainly ‘Khe Sanh’ and ‘American Pie’ other than I don’t sing. I wonder if any sporting identity would ever answer this question with ‘Macarthur Park’ or ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina?’
Some fine colour photos near the start of the book and well worth obtaining a copy.

 
Unleashed – A History of the Footscray Football Club

Unleashed - A History of the the Footscray Football Club

The long awaited club history that became available in December 1996. Written by John Lack, Chris Mc Conville, Michael Small and Damien Wright. The research is from Darren Arthur. If you follow the Dogs you just have to have this in your collection. What I really like about Unleashed is the pre 1925 information. This is another frustration of mine- the situation where some people believe our club came into being in 1925(which is explained in greater detail in ‘The Mission” chapter) There is considerable information about the club’s battle to secure admittance to the VFL competition and how vested interests fought hard to keep Footscray out. Some of those opposed to Footscray were the Essendon and South Melbourne clubs as well as illegal gaming king John Wren. Later you can read of the boardroom turmoil in the mid 1970’s when the club was seemingly becoming a power again after so many years in the wilderness. Not to mention the heroic 1989 revival which prevented us from playing our home games at Carlton’s ground as the merged Fitzroy Bulldogs If you don’t have it, go and buy it. Don’t borrow someone else’s. A real Footscray supporter should have this book already. You have had over 7 years to obtain it!

 
EJ – Ted Whitten

EJ - Ted Whitten

Close to being Teddy’s autobiography. A book from Jim Main and friends about Teddy Whitten, which came out soon after Ted’s sad death in August 1995. There are plenty of photos and anecdotes from footballers and journalists alike. The statistical section at the end is very impressive. It is hard to believe that Teddy has not been with us for nearly nine years. Enjoyable to read but it is sad.

 
The Ted Whitten Album

The Ted Whitten Album

This is a large hardback book that has only been out from mid 2003. The first photograph is of Teddy leading his team onto the MCG for the 1961 Grand Final. It is a great photo showing Teddy racing through the streamers with a football in his left hand followed by John Schultz. There is plenty of previously unseen material and some old photographs from Teddy’s childhood. Written by Paul Harvey and John Ross the front cover contains the same photo as the back cover of the previous book.

 
Libba – Living on the Edge – The Tony Liberatore autobiography

Libba - Living on the Edge

This came out in 1998 prior to the finals campaign of that season. Terry Wallace provides the foreword to this Ken Piesse book.

Tony (funny how it seems no ever calls him Tony, like Dipper no one seems to call him Robert either) presents his story in this 200+ page autobiography. Libber is a twin and comes from a very close family. His love of football is obvious throughout. You wonder how he is going today as a non-player because he just loves to compete and watching would not appear to be his forte.
Libber discusses issues such as the sky diving exercise and the sacking of Terry Wheeler. There is an excellent statistical section at the end that provides details of every senior game he had played in up to that point. Starting with his first in the 88 point victory against Fitzroy at home on Saturday 21st June 1986 to his 202nd on the Sydney Cricket Ground against the Swans on 26th April 1998

 

FOOTSCRAY SUBURB BOOKS

Footscray’s First 100 Years – The story of a great Australian City

This publication was produced to mark the City of Footscray’s 100th year. According to this book – Footscray, then a settlement of tents and rude shacks, was created on 10th June 1859; proclaimed a borough in 1863 and a town on 25th January 1887; a city on 23 rd January 1891. It was redefined in 1892 by the handing over of the then Swamp Road territory to Melbourne City Council. The jubilee of the municipality was celebrated in June 1909.

In 1959 Footscray turned 100 years of age and there is an introduction from both, the Premier of Victoria, Henry E. Bolte and the Mayor of Footscray, Councillor Walter E. Richards. The last few pages discuss the various sporting organizations within the area and right at the end the football club with photos of the Premiership team and on the opposite page the unveiling of the 1954 Premiership flag.

“Unfortunately 1959, the Centenary Year was not a successful one for the Bulldogs” as quoted from the back page. “For the first time in its V.F.L. history the club finished last on the premiership ladder, with only 3 wins in 18 games” That was a terrible conclusion to a great story, 100 years and a wooden spoon for its football team.

In 2009 Footscray will be celebrating 150 years. Let us hope that common sense finally prevails and the football club that sprung from this traditional suburb, would have Footscray as its name again.

 
A History of Footscray

A History of Footcray

Published in 1991, this book is from John Lack who was one of the authors of Unleashed. A concise over 400 page history of Footscray the suburb. When reading through this book, you can learn how and where some of Footscray’s streets got their names from.

Pages 36 and 37 will inform you how Footscray was named. It had begun from a village in the English county of Kent, Foots Cray. Over time the name would alter as its origins can be traced back to William the Conqueror’s Doomsday book of 1086. There are many photographs and one on page 388 displays the enormity of the Coode Island fire of August 1991.
When you read a book like this and take in how old and traditional Footscray the suburb is, can you really look yourself in the mirror and say you prefer the title ‘Western Bulldogs?’

 
Charlie Lovett’s Footscray

Charlie Lovett's Footscray

Another book edited and introduced by John Lack that was published in 1993. It is primarily about local identity and football club life member Charlie Lovett (1863-1939) and his memories and reminisces. Interestingly Charlie was against Footscray leaving the VFA for the VFL. There is a chapter that deals with the Sunshine Railway Disaster of Easter Monday 1908 where 43 people lost their lives. That was Australia’s biggest train disaster in terms of lives lost until 1977 at Granville.

 

OTHER FOOTBALL RELATED BOOKS

100 Years of Australian Football

100 Years of Australian Football

AFL 2003

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Arthur Olliver

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Big Jack

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Bob Rose

Bob Rose

Dipper

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Every Game Ever Played

Every Game Ever Played

Everything You Ever Wanted
to Know about Australian Rules
Football but Couldn’t be
Bother Asking

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About AFL

Fitzroy

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Football Ltd

Football Ltd

Forever Fitzroy

Forever Fitzroy

Great Footy Joke Book

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History of the Brownlow Medal

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Home Ground

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If ya don’t Mind Umpire

If Ya Don't Mind, Umpire!

Like Father Like Son

Like Father Like Son

Percy

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Playing God

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Plugger

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Rock and Roll

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Ron Barassi’s Football Book

Ron Barassi's Football Book

Sacked Coach

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Saturday Afternoon Fever

Saturday Afternoon Fever

Sheeds: A Touch of Cunning

Sheeds - A Touch of Cunning

Sheeds: Pockets of Greatness

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Silvagni

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The A to Z of Football

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The Grand of Flag

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The Great Grand Finals

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The Great Laurie Nash

The Great Laurie Nash

The Hard Way

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The Jack Dyer Story

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The Kiss of Death

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The MCG

The Other Side of the Medal

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Those Magnificent Men

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