Sunday 26th May, 2024

Archive for 2010


Footscray Players in Chronological Order 1925-2010

Posted by admin

Here is a modified listing taken directly from the AFL TABLES Website. To go straight to the AFL Tables Website you can reach it by clicking this link below. This sub-chapter presents all the men to have played at least one senior game for Footscray between 1925 and up to the end of May 2010. It takes in all the different names of both competition and club. The full comprehensive list can be found at this link below from the fantastic AFL Tables website. That full table has columns that provide the players height, weight, date of birth and their actual age in years and days for their first and final games for Footscray. That information was cut out of the FNWB Chart to allow for easier reading and printing.


Footscray Numbers 1925-2009

Posted by admin

This chapter mentions every number between 1-60 and the Footscray player who wore that particular guernsey. Only the number 56 has not been recorded as being on the back of a Footscray footballer in a senior game between 1925 and the end of 2009. It needs to be mentioned that the games and goals are for all Footscray games and goals in all numbers for the individual player, not just that specific number. For example the bloke who once sported number 60 didn’t wear it in all of his 283 games, so this chapter is about the actual number and who has worn it, even if only once or under a handful of times.


Footscray and the F.A. Cup Final

Posted by admin

Results from 1925 to 2010

Below is the table that explains what Footscray were doing (or not doing in some years) on the weekend of the F.A. Cup Final from England (and Wales in the 2001-2006 years inclusive) from the 1925 season. This being our first in the Victorian Football League (V.F.L) after crossing over from the Victorian Football Association (V.F.A)

I began to take in interest in English soccer around Christmas time during the 1984-1985 campaign. This was when it was at its lowest ebb and it was unfashionable here in Australia. I remember soccer commentator ex-patriate Englishman Fred Villiers in Melbourne having to basically apologize on ‘World of Sport’ for what happened 12,000 miles away at the Luton Town v Millwall F.A. Cup tie when the Millwall fans rioted during the game. For Australians that don’t come from a soccer heritage like me, it was the worst time to begin being interested in the game. Then after that there was the Bradford fire. I woke up early that Sunday morning and heard on the radio as I was getting up to watch the ‘A Pleasant Sunday Morning’ program on Channel 2 which was a Sunday morning footy show that played highlights from selected games. I was eager to see more action from Richmond v Footscray that took place the day before on the cricket ground. The first news story was how over 50 people has lost their lives at a soccer match in England. I could not believe it could happen in modern times- then a few weeks later there was the Heysel tragedy in Belgium at the European Champions Cup Final. More deaths at a soccer match

The first F.A. Cup Final that I watched with more than just a passing interest was the 1985 one between Everton and Manchester United. Earlier that day I was at the Western Oval to see the Bulldogs lose to the Lions. This was the final victory Fitzroy ever had there over us at home, Brad Hardie kicked the first goal of the game to the Geelong Road End and in the last quarter Les Bamblett kicked an absolute ripper of a goal that should have lifted us to victory, but alas it didn’t. The next year was 100% better; we beat North Melbourne at the Western Oval, with Simon Beasley kicking 5 goals in the last quarter. So I began thinking about all the F.A. Cup Finals and decided to document every one of them from 1925 and what Footscray did on that particular round.

The first one that I remember was 1977 and how it was being promoted as some massive game in England between the two greatest and biggest clubs of all time. I remember hearing the scores after the game and that stuck in my mind- 2-1, but it wasn’t till some time later that I learned the two competitors were Manchester United and Liverpool. So I didn’t think much more about it till some years later.

Anyhow I looked up who Footscray played that day and I was there in the bottom level of the old Southern Stand. We were comfortably leading Richmond but they overran us in the last quarter and I felt cheated again. So after recalling 1977, 1985 and 1986, may as well do the lot, so here they all are from 1925 to the present day.

Chart Presentation

Up until 1988, all Footscray games were played on the Saturday afternoon before the F.A. Cup Final ‘kick off’ at midnight, Eastern Australian time. Nowadays with A.F.L games played outside of the old every game on the traditional Saturday afternoon, this table takes in the full weekend of the F.A. Cup Final, so Footscray matches on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday are put with the F.A. Cup Final chart in the same way as the Saturday afternoon fixtures were.

Footscray games have the actual home team or the designated home team, presented first. So thus our name will be below our opponents in quite a few of these years

The F.A. Cup teams are NOT presented below where the winners name is on top. The first team of the two to make the final receives top billing; alphabetical order is used if they both made it at the identical time. This no longer happens with the semi-finals played on different days.

There was no F.A. Cup Final in 1940, 1941,1942,1943,1944 and 1945 due to World War 2, so as there is no set date(e.g. April 25 for Anzac Day) or set day (e.g. the first Tuesday in November- for the Melbourne Cup), no Footscray game was added to the chart in those 6 years. 

Day and Date Year Teams ¼ time ½ time ¾ time Full Time Extra Time
Saturday 25 April   Cardiff City 0 0
Wembley Sheffield United   1   1
No game as the   VFL  season didn’t begin until May 2 1925
Saturday 24 April Bolton Wanderers 0 1
Wembley Manchester City   0   0
No game as the   VFL  season didn’t begin until May 1 1926
Saturday 23 April Cardiff City 0 1
Wembley Arsenal   0   0
No game as the   VFL  season didn’t begin until April 30 1927
Saturday 21 April Blackburn Rovers 2 3
Wembley Huddersfield T   1   1
Saturday 21 April R1 South Melbourne 3.6 6.7 11.10 14.16.100
Lakeside Oval Footscray 2.2 6.4 10.7 15.9.99
Saturday 27 April Bolton Wanderers 0 2
Wembley Portsmouth   0   0
Saturday 27 April R1 Footscray 3.7 6.7 9.16 10.18.78
Western Oval Fitzroy 1.1 6.2 7.3 10.9.69
Saturday 26 April Huddersfield 0 0
Wembley Arsenal   1   2
No game as the VFL  season didn’t begin until May 3 1930
Saturday 25 April Birmingham City 0 1
Wembley West Bromwich Albion   1   2
No game as the VFL  season didn’t begin until May 2 1931
¼ time 1/2 ¾ time 90 mins Extra time
Saturday 23 April Arsenal 1 1
Wembley Newcastle United   0   2
No game as the VFL  season didn’t begin until April 30 1932
Saturday 29 April Everton 1 3
Wembley Manchester City   0   0
Saturday 29 April R1 Footscray 1.2 5.5 6.5 11.11.77
Western Oval Essendon 3.3 4.5 8.7 10.11.71
Saturday 28 April Manchester City 0 2
Wembley Portsmouth   1   1
No game as the VFL  season didn’t begin until May 6 1934
Saturday 27 April Sheffield Wednesday 1 4
Wembley West Bromwich Albion   1   2
Saturday 27 April R1 Footscray 1.5 3.11 7.14 7.19.61
Western Oval Richmond 6.5 8.6 8.11 14.12.96
Saturday 25 April Arsenal 0 1
Wembley Sheffield United   0   0
No game as the VFL  season didn’t begin until May 2 1936
Saturday 1 May Preston North End 1 1
Wembley Sunderland   0   3
Saturday 1 May R2 Richmond 2.1 8.6 10.10 17.15.117
Punt Road Oval Footscray 6.3 7.4 10.8 12.11.83
Saturday 30 April Huddersfield 0 0 0
Wembley Preston North End   0   0 1
Saturday 30 April R2 Footscray 7.10 7.12 11.17. 13.17.95
Western Oval Fitzroy 1,0 4,0 8.3 10.5.65
Saturday 29 April Portsmouth 2 4
Wembley Wolverhampton   0   1
Saturday 29 April R2 Richmond 6.2 11.10 16.14 20.19.139
Punt Road Oval Footscray 6.1 8.1 14.6 17.8.110
No F.A. Cup Final 1940 World War 2          
No F.A. Cup Final 1941 World War 2        
No F.A. Cup Final 1942 World War 2        
No F.A. Cup Final 1943 World War 2        
No F.A. Cup Final 1944 World War 2
No F.A. Cup Final 1945 World War 2        
Saturday 27 April Charlton 0   1 1
Wembley Derby County   0   1 4
Saturday 27 April R2 St Kilda 4.2 5.2 8.3 11.3.69
Junction Oval Footscray 2.5 9.13 12.18 16.21.117
Saturday 26 April Charlton 0 1
Wembley Burnley   0   0
Saturday 26 April R2 Footscray 5.5 6.8 12.10 15.13.103
Western Oval Essendon 1.1 5.7 10.8 13.11.89
Saturday 24 April Manchester Utd 1 2
Wembley Blackpool   2   4
Saturday 24 April R2 Richmond 8.6 12.7 18.8 20.12
Punt Road Oval Footscray 1.1 6.2 6.4 8.9.57
Saturday 30 April Leicester City 0 1
Wembley Wolverhampton   2   3
Saturday 30 April R3 Melbourne 1.8 5.10 10.14 14.16.100
M.C.G Footscray 1.0 3.0 3.2 7.6.48
Saturday 29 April Liverpool 0 0
Wembley Arsenal   1   2
Saturday 29 April R2 Geelong 2.2 9.12 15.12 18.17.125
Kardinia Park Footscray 5.7 6.8 9.10 13.14.92
Saturday 28 April Blackpool 0 0
Wembley Newcastle United   0   2
Saturday 28 April R2 Footscray 1.2 2.7 3.7 5.11.41
Western Oval Carlton 1.3 1.10 4.15 4.16.40
Saturday 3 May Newcastle United 0 1
Wembley Arsenal   0   0
Saturday 3 May R3 North Melbourne 3.4 4.5 8.8 11.11.77
Arden Street Footscray 1.0 7.1 8.6 10.6.66
Saturday 2 May Blackpool 1 4
Wembley Bolton Wanderers   2   3
Saturday 2 May R2 Footscray 1.3 3.9 5.10 8.13.61
Western Oval Geelong 5.1 9.5 14.8 15.12.102
Saturday 1 May Preston North End 1 2
Wembley West Bromwich Albion   1   3
Saturday 1 May R3 Footscray 6.0 9.5 11.11 17.14.116
Western Oval South Melbourne 2.5 2.6 3.8 3.11.29
Saturday 7 May Manchester City 1 1
Wembley   Newcastle United   1   3
Saturday 7 May R4 Footscray 1.1 2.5 4.8 4.12.36
Western Oval Essendon 0.1 2.2 2.5 2.11.23
Saturday 5 May Birmingham City 1 1
Wembley Manchester City   1   3
Saturday 5 May R4 Collingwood 3.1 10.6 10.6 12.15.87
Victoria Park Footscray 3.2 9.3 10.7 11.7.73
Saturday 4 May Manchester Utd 0 1
Wembley Aston Villa   0   2
Saturday 4 May R3 Footscray 2.1 4.4 7.6 9.10.64
Western Oval Carlton 0.3 1.6 4.7 7.9.53
Saturday 3 May Bolton Wanderers 1 2
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   0
Saturday 3 May R4 Footscray 0.0 2.6 3.6 7.12.54
Western Oval North Melbourne 3.0 5.1 6.4 6.4.40
Saturday 2 May Nottingham Forest 2 2
Wembley Luton Town   0   1
Saturday 2 May R2 Footscray 2.1 3.4 4.5 8.7.55
Western Oval Carlton 3.6 8.6 11.12 15.14.105
Saturday 7 May Blackburn Rovers 0 0
Wembley Wolverhampton   1   3
Saturday 7 May R3 Hawthorn 0.0 3.6 4.7 6.9.45
Glenferrie Oval Footscray 2.8 2.9 4.15 6.17.53
Saturday 6 May Tottenham Hotspur   0   2
Wembley Leicester City 0 0
Saturday 6 May R4 Footscray 3.5 4.8 7.13 10.13.73
Western Oval Collingwood 0.1 5.3 5.3 10.4.64
Saturday 5 May Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
Wembley Burnley   0   1
Saturday 5 May R3 Melbourne 2.1 7.4 12.5 14.10.94
M.C.G Footscray 0.1 4.3 4.8 4.11.35
Saturday 25 May Leicester City   0   1
Wembley   Manchester Utd   1   3
Saturday 25 May R6 Essendon 2.3 8.4 12.8 13.16.94
Windy Hill Footscray 3.6 5.10 6.12 6.18.54
Saturday 2 May Preston North End   1   2
Wembley West Ham United   0   3
Saturday 2 May R3 Footscray 0.3 4.8 6.9 8.12.60
Western Oval   Collingwood 2.2 4.6 9.13 11.13.79  
Saturday 1 May Liverpool   0   0 2
Wembley Leeds United   0   0 1
Saturday 1 May R3 Footscray 2.3 5.6 5.8 6.12.48
Western Oval Essendon 4.3 8.6 13.11 18.18.126
Saturday 14 May Everton   0   3
Wembley Sheffield Wednesday 1 2
Saturday 14 May R4 Footscray 4.1 5.2 11.12 12.12.84
Western Oval Fitzroy 0.0 1.11 1.11 5.16.46
Saturday 20 May Chelsea   0   1
Wembley Tottenham Hotspur   1   2
Saturday 20 May R6 Footscray 0.0 4.3 4.4 4.7.33
Western Oval Essendon 4.9 5.9 9.13 11.13.79
Saturday 18 May Everton   0   0 0
Wembley West Bromwich Albion   0   0 1
Saturday 18 May R6 Footscray 3.1 8.6 10.6 13.7.85
Western Oval Melbourne 1.2 2.6 6.8 6.12.48
Saturday 26 April Leicester City   0   0
Wembley Manchester City   1   1
Saturday 26 April R4 Hawthorn 4.3 8.6 14.10 19.16.130
Glenferrie Oval Footscray 3.5 7.9 8.11 12.13.85
Saturday 11 April Chelsea   1   2 2
Wembley Leeds United   1   2 2
Saturday 11 April R2 Essendon 3.5. 6.8. 8.13 10.14.74
Windy Hill Footscray 2.5. 6.11. 7.14 14.22.106
Saturday 8 May Liverpool   0   0 1
Wembley Arsenal   0   0 2
Saturday 8 May R6 Footscray 8.1 9.4 13.4 18.5.123
Western Oval Hawthorn 5.4 9.8 12.9 16.11.107
Saturday 6 May Leeds United 0 1
Wembley Arsenal   0   0
Saturday 6 May R6 Footscray 3.2 7.4 12.14 16.16.112
Western Oval Fitzroy 3.3 6.7 9.8 13.12.90
Saturday 5 May Leeds United   0   0
Wembley   Sunderland 1 1
Saturday 5 May R5 Hawthorn 6.3 7.7 13.12   18.16.124
Glenferrie Oval Footscray 2.4 12.8 14.10   16.12.108
Saturday 4 May Newcastle United   0   0
Wembley Liverpool   0   3
Saturday 4 May R5 Hawthorn 1.6 3.7 8.13 8.14.62
Waverley Footscray 1.0 4.4 6.10 11.19.85
Saturday 3 May West Ham United   0   2
Wembley Fulham   0   0
Saturday 3 May R5 Footscray 4.3 6.6 10.8 12.9.81
Waverley Collingwood 1.1 4.8 6.13 9.16.70
Saturday 1 May Manchester Utd   0   0
Wembley Southampton   0   1
Saturday 1 May R5 Richmond 4.2 6.10 9.13 12.17.89
M.C.G Footscray 4.5 7.11 12.16 15.20.110
Saturday 21 May Manchester  Utd   0   2
Wembley Liverpool   0   1
Saturday 21 May R8 Richmond 3.8 6.10 8.13 16.18.114
M.C.G Footscray 4.6 9.9 12.15 13.17.95
Saturday 6 May Arsenal   0   0
Wembley Ipswich Town   0   1
Saturday 6 May R6 Footscray 4.3 7.3 11.6 16.9.105
Waverley South Melbourne 2.3 4.6 10.12 18.15.123
Saturday 12 May Arsenal   2   3
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   2
Saturday 12 May R6 Geelong 1.6 3.8 8.14 9.18.72
Kardinia Park Footscray 0.2 4.2 6.4 7.5.47
Saturday 10 May West Ham United   1   1
Wembley Arsenal   0   0
Saturday 10 May R7 Footscray 1.2 3.6 6.7 10.10.70
Western Oval Richmond 3.1 9.10 17.12 27.18.180
Saturday 9 May Manchester City   1   1 1
Wembley Tottenham Hotspur   0   1 1
Saturday 9 May R7 North Melbourne 1.2 9.5 14.10 17.16.118
Waverley Footscray 2.6 3.9 4.10 7.12.54
Saturday 22 May Tottenham Hotspur   0   0 1
Wembley Queens Park Rangers   0   0 1
Saturday 22 May R9 Richmond 2.6 7.7 12.11 21.13.139
M.C.G Footscray 2.2 3.5 7.9 14.14.98
Saturday 21 May Brighton   1   2 2
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   2 2
Saturday 21 May R9 Fitzroy 2.5 5.11 9.16 13.21.99
Waverley Footscray 6.3 10.4 15.9 22.13.145
Saturday 19 May Watford   0   0
Wembley Everton   1   2
Saturday 19 May R8 St Kilda 1.1 7.7 8.8 13.11.89
Moorabbin Footscray 2.5 4.8 6.13 9.17.71
Saturday 18 May Everton   0   0 0
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   0 1
Saturday 18 May R8 Footscray 4.1 6.3 8.7 11.7.73
Western Oval Fitzroy 4.5 6.8 9.12 12.15.97
Saturday 10 May Everton   1   1
Wembley Liverpool   0   3
Saturday 10 May R7 Footscray 1.2 3.6 6.10 14.11.95
Western Oval North Melbourne 3.7 4.12 7.15 10.17.77
Saturday 16 May Tottenham Hotspur   2   2 2
Wembley Coventry City   1   2 3
Saturday 16 May R8 Melbourne 4.4 6.7 6.13 11.15.81
M.C.G Footscray 3.5 8.10 12.13  
Saturday 14 May Liverpool   0   0
Wembley Wimbledon   1   1
Sunday 15 May R7 Brisbane Bears 1.5 2.7 8.9 10.12.72
Carrara, QLD Footscray 1.1 4.8 5.12 9.17.71
Saturday 20 May Everton   0   1 2
Wembley Liverpool   1   1 3
Saturday 20 May R8 Footscray 1.5 2.5 6.10 8.16.64
Western Oval Fitzroy 1.2 5.8 6.9 9.9.63
Saturday 12 May Crystal Palace   1   2 3
Wembley Manchester Utd   1   2 3
Saturday 12 May R7 North Melbourne 1.3 5.8 10.11 12.13.85
M.C.G Footscray 7.5 9.8 12.10 12.15.87
Saturday 18 May Tottenham Hotspur   0   1 2
Wembley Nottingham Forest   1   1 1
Saturday 18 May R9 Footscray 4.2 9.3 12.9 15.11.101
Western Oval Brisbane 4.4 6.9 10.10 14.12.96
Saturday 9 May Sunderland   0   0
Wembley Liverpool   0   2
Sunday  10 May R8 West Coast 8.6 13.8 15.14 19.19.133
Subiaco, Perth Footscray 0.1 3.3 7.5 11.8.74
Saturday 15 May Sheffield Wednesday   0   1 1
Wembley Arsenal   1   1 1
Saturday 15 May R8 Carlton 2.3 5.6 9.10 11.12.78
Princes Park Footscray 5.4 10.5 12.11 15.16.106
Saturday 14 May Chelsea   0   0
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   4
Sunday 15 May R8 Melbourne 4.4 8.8 10.10 13.13.91
M.C.G Footscray 3.2 5.4 11.7 14.10.94
Saturday 20 May Everton   1   1
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   0
Saturday 20 May R8 Footscray 1.0 4.1 8.2 13.6.84
Western Oval North Melbourne 6.5 8.6 8.12 15.15.105
Saturday 11 May Manchester Utd   0   1
Wembley Liverpool   0   0
Sunday  12 May R7 Richmond 2.3 4.6 12.8 17.11.113
M.C.G Footscray 4.2 6.3 7.5 9.8.62
Saturday 17 May Chelsea   1   2
Wembley Middlesborough   0   0
Friday 16 May R8 Eastern Magpies 4.4 10.6 13.11 19.15.129
M.C.G Western Bulldogs 4.3 6.11 7.14 11.17.83
Saturday 16 May Arsenal   1   2
Wembley Newcastle United   0   0
Sunday 17 May R8 Eastern Hawks 6.2 9.4 11.8 14.12.96
Waverley Western Bulldogs 5.1 11.3 16.6 21.10.136
Saturday 22 May Newcastle United   0   0
Wembley Manchester Utd   1   2
Friday  21 May R9 Eastern Magpies 1.6 5.7 7.14 12.16.88
M.C.G Western Bulldogs 4.2 8.7 14.9 19.12.126
Saturday 22 May Aston Villa   0   0
Wembley Chelsea   0   1
Saturday 22 May R11 Fremantle Dockers 5.6 8.7 10.7 12.9.81
Subiaco, Perth Western Bulldogs 6.1 11.5 20.8 27.12.174
Saturday 12 May Arsenal   0   1
Cardiff Liverpool   0   2
Friday  11 May R7 Central Demons 4.4 6.5. 9.5 12.5.77
MCG Western Bulldogs 5.4 7.11 12.13 15.17.107
Saturday 04 May Arsenal   0   2
Cardiff Chelsea   0   0
Saturday 04 May R6 Northern Blues 3.2 5.5 8.7 9.14.68
Western Bulldogs 5.5 8.7 11.11 14.12.96
Saturday 17 May Arsenal   1   1
Cardiff Southampton   0   0
Sunday  18 May R8 Northern Blues 2.8 6.11 9.14 15.17.107
Princes Park Western Bulldogs 4.3 6.9 9.13 14.16.100
Saturday 22 May Manchester Utd   1   3
Cardiff Millwall   0   0
Sunday  23 May R9 Northern Blues 5.1 10.4 12.4 12.7.79
Princes Park Western Bulldogs 7.3 10.5 16.5 16.8.104
Saturday 21 May Arsenal   0   0 0 #
Cardiff Manchester Utd   0   0 0
Sunday  22 May R9 Western Bulldogs 4.3 5.7 7.12 10.16.76
Sydney Cricket G Sydney Swans 1.4 5.7 11.9 13.11.89
Saturday 13 May Liverpool   0   3 3#
Cardiff West Ham United   1   3 3
Sunday 14 May R7 Port Adelaide 1.4 5.9 9.11 13.12.90
Adelaide, S.A Western Bulldogs 7.5 13.7 20.9 25.16.166
Saturday 19 May Manchester Utd   0   0 0
Rebuilt Wembley Chelsea   0   0 1
Sunday  20 May R8 Western Bulldogs 5.3 8.8 15.12 20.15.135
Docklands Eastern Magpies 5.3 11.7 13.13 14.18.102
Saturday 17 May Portsmouth   1   1
Rebuilt Wembley Cardiff City   0   0
Saturday 18 May R8 Fremantle Dockers 6.2 9.5 14.8 17.9.111
Subiaco, Perth Western Bulldogs 6.3 9.4 11.8 17.12.114
Saturday 30 May Chelsea   1 1 2
Rebuilt Wembley Everton   0 1 1
Saturday 30 May R10 Western  Bulldogs 5.2 13.2 16.7 18.9.117
Canberra, A.C.T Sydney Swans 2.2 2.3 7.4 12.5.77
Saturday 15 May Chelsea   0   1
Rebuilt Wembley Portsmouth   0   0
Saturday 15 May R8 Western  Bulldogs        
Canberra, A.C.T Sydney Swans        
The Replays – 1970, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1990
Day and Date Year Teams ¼ time ½ time ¾ time Full Time Extra Time
Wed 29 April Chelsea   0   1 2
Old Trafford Leeds United   1   1 1
Saturday 2 May R5 Footscray 5.5 9.7 11.10 11.13.79
Western Oval Hawthorn 2.4 6.6 11.8 11.10.76
Thursday 14 May Manchester City   1   2
Wembley Tottenham Hotspur   1   3
Saturday 16 May R8 Richmond 5.4 10.8 17.13 25.17.167
MCG Footscray 3.2 8.4 13.10 17.15.117
Thursday 27 May Tottenham Hotspur   1   1
Wembley Queens Park Rangers   0   0
Saturday 29 May R10 Footscray 3.3 5.5 9.8 15.10.100
Western Oval North Melbourne 4.4 11.10 19.14 23.20.158
Thursday 26 May Brighton   0   0
Wembley Manchester Utd   3   4
Saturday 28 MAY R10 Footscray 6.8 8.12 15.21 17.26.128
Western Oval St Kilda 3.1 9.8 10.12 11.16.82
Thursday 17 May Crystal Palace   0   0
Wembley Manchester Utd   0   1
Sunday 20 May R8 Footscray 1.2 4.6 6.10 11.12.78
Western Oval Essendon 3.7 8.8 13.11 14.13.97
Thursday 20 May Sheffield Wednesday   0   1 1
Wembley Arsenal   1   1 2
Saturday 22 May R9 Footscray 5.1 13.5 15.6 22.11.143
Western Oval St Kilda 4.4 4.5 10.8 11.13.79

Bulldogs is fine as the NICKNAME, Bulldogs is WRONG as the de facto real name

Posted by Caveman

There is no problem with Bulldogs as the clubs nickname- that is fine. However it is WRONG for it to be the de-facto real name as it is now.

All clubs have a nickname- bar one which is us. That is because Bulldogs has been incorporated into the official name- the two worded name Western Bulldogs. So therefore we do not really have a nickname.

Nicknames are given to people or organizations for reasons such as, fun, (good natured) derision, irony or even just to state the obvious. They are not there to take over and run the show.

Read the rest of this page »


The Pro-Name Change Survey

Posted by Caveman

One of the main reasons given supporting the idea to adopt Western Bulldogs was a little known to the rank and file marketing survey. Evidently those canvassed supported the move away from the name Footscray to Western Bulldogs. The survey even sought and gathered responses from the western suburbs of SYDNEY!

Yes Minister

This survey appears to be a crucial part of the anti- Footscray campaigners desire to inflict their change on the club. Everyone should understand this, surveys and polls are not a great measuring tool or barometer of widespread opinion. They are often wrong and can be easily manipulated to obtain the answers to questions that the proposers desire. All polls for the 1999 Victorian State election pointed to the Kennett Liberal Government being returned. As we know this did not happen and the ALP opposition won that election. Many polls anticipated that the 2004 federal poll would be close or that the ALP would win. The Labour Party did not win and it also was not close.

With manipulating polls and surveys, below is an excellent example of how the desired result can be obtained. This comes from an episode from that brilliant British Comedy (or was it a documentary as well?) Yes Minister.

Sir Humphrey Appleby played by the late Nigel Hawthorne is explaining to Bernard Woolley (Derek Fowlds) the ways and means to get the result you want. He is instructing Bernard on the issue of re-introducing National Service.

Sir Humphrey

“You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don’t want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Do you think they respond to a challenge?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Would you be in favour of re-introducing National Service?”

Bernard Woolley

“Oh well, I suppose I might be“

Sir Humphrey

“Yes or no?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told, you can’t say no to that. So they don’t publish the first five questions and they publish the last one.”

Bernard Woolley

“Is that really what they do?”

Sir Humphrey

“Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren’t many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result.”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Mr Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Are you worried about the growth of armaments?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“Would you oppose the re-introduction of National Service?”

Bernard Woolley


Sir Humphrey

“There you are. You see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample.”

That example applies to all surveys on any given topic. Similar indeed to the tried and trusted- ‘Never organise an enquiry unless you know what the result will be’.

Therefore we need to be given a genuine bona fide vote on this matter, where all the evidence is presented from both camps- the pro-Footscray and the Pro-Western people. A date could be organised in advance giving both sides time to campaign for what they believe and to table their ideals and all facts are figures are there for everyone to see. Democracy has then been served and the supporters can make their own minds up. You are selecting the name, not someone else telling you what it will be. If you think Western is the way forward then you can vote on it and for it.

If this legitimate vote is held and the pro-Western side wins, then pro-Footscray people like me would just have to accept it or tolerate it. I would be most annoyed with the outcome of this hypothetical referendum, I would walk around making comments like most election losers do.

# Intelligence tests for voting should be a pre-requisite to cast a vote.
# It seems the majority of Bulldogs supporters are either stupid, ignorant or both.

However I can’t come to that conclusion because:

(1)A vote may go the way of the pro-Footscray people (of which I am assured it would).
(2) As this vote hasn’t occurred, I can’t accuse any person or a collective group of being simpletons, because as no-one has ever voted we don’t know whether they are stupid or not. I would at least like to be given the knowledge of having any doubt removed of what the clubs supporters want.

The Pro Western Anti Footscray lobby doesn’t want a vote/referendum on this issue or it seems to appear that way. I am yet to meet or hear from a PWAF person that would agree to a vote on the name of the club. This is primarily due to the fact that there are so few of them. How many people who follow the Bulldogs were overjoyed that the name was changed in 1996 and are still rejoicing about that today in 2005? It is only those involved in changing the name (and Optus Oval, Sons of the Scray / West and the Guernsey design) that appear to love the banishment of Footscray and have great satisfaction that Footscray is no more. I often hear people say I wish we were still Footscray but what good will it do changing it back now? Responses to that argument and others can be found in the COUNTERING THE APOLOGISTS chapter. The PWAF people need these apologists/defeatists/mediocrity accepters to bolster their ranks and nullify the real true believers. I would have more time for a PWAF person if they came out and said something along the lines of- ‘Right we want the members to decide on this issue and we are just as keen on a legitimate vote as the Pro –Footscray group. We want to present our case that we are right –Footscray was no good and Western is wonderful. Bring on the vote.

Yet it should also be stated that the PWAF mob are not the only ones that believe a vote should not happen. There are many Pro –Footscray people who aren’t interested in a vote either. From that group some will argue- just delete Western Bulldogs now and re- install Footscray, no vote just do it. In exactly the same unceremonious way Footscray was deleted for Western Bulldogs in 1996. I tend to lean towards this viewpoint myself, though for those who would like it done democratically, I would accept that too.


St Kilda Football Club – One club who could have changed their name but didn’t

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St Kilda Football Club

One club who could have changed their name but didn’t

Four of the twelve clubs from the 1925 -1981 era of the Victorian Football League are different from the other eight clubs. The eight clubs are Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda. The other four are Fitzroy, Footscray, North Melbourne and South Melbourne. The reason is that the group of eight mentioned have never changed their name away from their original suburb unlike the group of four. South Melbourne and Fitzroy did because they are no longer playing in Melbourne. South Melbourne was relocated from their home at the Lake Oval in South Melbourne after the 1981 season and became Sydney in 1982. Fitzroy merged (or were taken over by Brisbane) during 1996 so there was no more Fitzroy. The nickname of the Swans remained and Fitzroy’s (relatively newish) nickname of the Lions was taken to Brisbane to replace the team from Queensland’s Bears nickname. North Melbourne became the ‘Kangaroos’ for 1999, running with their nickname- Kangaroos a nickname that North had been using for less than half of North Melbourne’s existence. They were rewarded with the AFL Premiership in that 1999 season before returning to North Melbourne for 2008. Footscray of course haven’t changed back- we have been Western Bulldogs from the 1997 season and still are. The Swans, Lions, Kangaroos and Bulldogs were never the original nickname of these four clubs- Fitzroy have had a few nicknames through the years- the Gorillas was one of those and it is well within the memory of many Fitzroy and non-Fitzroy fans.

However it could have been seven teams and five teams as St Kilda could quite easily have changed their name in the 1960’s and to a lesser extent in the 1980’s. For some time in the late 1980’s there was a club initiated movement to add the word ‘Southern’ before the word Saints, so that when mentioning the nickname it would become the Southern Saints rather than just Saints. However this initiative never gained any serious momentum and it is now forgotten by nearly everyone

St Kilda is unique from the (then 11) Melbourne clubs and Geelong in that they can say that they have a supporter base from two separate geographical areas of Melbourne. Those being their original home in St Kilda where they resided from their beginning until 1964 and then Moorabbin and the suburbs near to it from 1965- 1992.

Outside of supporters who liked the saints for miscellaneous reasons such as – they liked their colours, or knew or liked a player etc, there were 3 categories of the ‘geographical’ as opposed to ‘miscellaneous’ St Kilda fan who attended their home games at Moorabbin between the years 1965- 1992. They are members of these geographical groups

(1) The St Kilda Football Club supporter who still lived in or near St Kilda the suburb.
(2) The St Kilda Football Club devotee that was (or their family was) originally from St Kilda the suburb, but had moved away after the war to near Moorabbin. So the football club’s home was physically closer to where they lived.
(3) The St Kilda Football Club fan that had no connection to St Kilda the suburb- This supporter had no ties or family heritage to St Kilda the suburb or the St Kilda football club

Group 1 – (St Kilda local people)
Would have these viewpoints on the issue of St Kilda leaving the Junction Oval for Moorabbin
  • Wholeheartedly supported the decision to move, embracing it with open arms. Although living near the Junction Oval- they had no problem with the move to Moorabbin
  • Agreed with moving, but would have had no problems if the Saints remained in St Kilda
  • Didn’t care either way. It made no difference to them or their support for the St Kilda Football Club. A non-issue for this fan
  • Would prefer to stay at the Junction but accepted the move to Moorabbin.
  • Opposed to it- only begrudgingly tolerated the move away from home to the far away Moorabbin. They may have eventually accepted leaving the Junction for Moorabbin. They would view the change of home as being more about the move away from the Junction Oval rather than it being a move to Moorabbin
Group 2 – (Moorabbin local people but originally from St Kilda)
Would generally have the same views as Group 1 on the issue of St Kilda leaving the Junction Oval for Moorabbin- though they would-
  • Generally be less inclined to be opposed to leaving the Junction Oval. They would view the change of home as being more about the move to Moorabbin rather than it being a move away from the Junction Oval
Group 3 – (Moorabbin people or living close to Moorabbin who have no history with St Kilda the suburb or St Kilda Football Club)
Would most likely have this view on the issue of St Kilda leaving the Junction Oval for Moorabbin, which is different from Groups 1 and 2
  • These fans followed St Kilda because they were geographically their nearest VFL club. So for arguments sake at the end of season 1964 when North Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda departed their homes at the Arden Street Oval, Punt Road Oval and the Junction Oval to move to Coburg, the MCG and Moorabbin for 1965, should it have been either North Melbourne or Richmond who moved to Moorabbin then this category of St Kilda fan would indeed not be a St Kilda supporter but a North Melbourne or Richmond fan. This is because North Melbourne or Richmond was to be playing their home games locally for this Group 3 fan at Moorabbin. So the move of the St Kilda football club from the suburb of St Kilda to the suburb of Moorabbin would not cause them any problems as the St Kilda suburb meant nothing to them. Indeed they would have welcomed it as it gave them a VFL team- and it so happened that it was to be St Kilda- they would have welcomed North Melbourne or Richmond moving to Moorabbin(or indeed any other club)

St Kilda on the move

Junction Oval, Moorabbin, Waverley and now Docklands

St Kilda have moved home quite a few times and there was angst with each move although some more than others. The leaving of the Junction Oval to play at Moorabbin for the 1965 season created major turmoil and the more recent 1992 decision to play home games at Waverley from 1993 was also controversial and divisive. The decision to leave Waverley for the brand new Docklands Stadium in 2000 was seen by some Southern Saints fans, as another annoying move after just becoming settled at Waverley.

For all the chopping and changing and in particular the move away from the Junction Oval at the end of the 1964 season to Moorabbin in 1965, they always kept St Kilda despite the fact that Moorabbin is miles and miles from St Kilda and Waverley is even further away. Initially it seemed they would drop St Kilda and adopt Moorabbin or combine both St Kilda and Moorabbin in their name. They are still St Kilda and probably always will be.

All St Kilda fans should have the copy of the official St Kilda history book, written by the late Jules Feldmann and Russell Holmesby. Their brilliantly named tribute to St Kilda “The Point of It All” provides some of the background to the departure from the Junction Oval. It was by no means a unanimous decision and many Saints fans were aghast.

These paragraphs are directly from pages 167 and 168 of The Point of It All (TPOIA).

The Point Of It All

But there were wider issues evident in these opening lines from the 1963 annual report: “In summing up, your committee considers that the present method of distribution of football revenue is archaic and farcical.” Those words gave a hint of what was to come for a club tired of having the bulk of its profit from match receipts “siphoned off” to the ground manager, St Kilda Cricket Club. The only way for St Kilda to beat this arrangement was to secure its own ground. In 1960, the idea of moving to a ground such as Elsternwick Park had been aborted when the St Kilda Cricket Club had promised to spend 7000 pounds on room improvements at the Junction Oval and it was announced that the football club would stay there for 10 years. Despite attracting record crowds, the club was losing vast amounts of money it needed to compete on the escalating inter-state recruiting market. Late in March 1964, St Kilda dropped a bombshell by announcing it would move to the Moorabbin ground in 1965 and become the ground manager in its own right. One of the original conditions of occupancy discussed on March 17, 1964, at St Kilda’s committee meeting was: “The Moorabbin Football Club shall amalgamate with the St Kilda Football Club and the club shall be known as the St Kilda-Moorabbin Football Club for a period of 10 years, and after that period shall be known as the Moorabbin Football Club approval (providing is obtained from club members). On April 28, the president reported:”The condition originally imposed by the Moorabbin Council, namely that the name of the club be changed, has now been withdrawn.” A long forgotten rule in the club’s constitution stated that the name could not be changed unless three-quarters of the members voted for it. The law had been framed in the 1880’s when St Kilda amalgamated with Prahran. Veteran ex-player and Coach Wells Eicke resigned from the committee in protest. Some members also doubted the 100,000 pounds loan the Moorabbin council had promised would be enough to make the necessary improvements in facilities at Moorabbin. Then VFA PRESIDENT Alec Gillon initiated a motion that suspended Moorabbin from the association for a year. The sparks that flew in the days after the announcement ignited into an inferno when a member, John Sist took out a Supreme Court writ against the committee to prevent the club moving to Moorabbin or changing its name. President Graham Huggins hit back through an issue of leaflets at the final practice, re-iterating that the club’s name would not be changed unless members voted for it.

It is still to be changed to Moorabbin. It definitely won’t be now as they left Moorabbin at the conclusion of the 1992 season. I well remember that saga and how a vote was held on whether St Kilda should remain at Moorabbin or move to Waverley.

The Point Of It All was published in early 1992 and sadly one of the co-authors Jules Feldmann died not long after it hit the shelves. The Moorabbin/Waverley issue arose after this book was published. I often wonder what would have happened if this book had of came out in 1993 as no doubt it could have given a detailed account of the Moorabbin/ Waverley issue.

STKFC The actual vote did take place although some people had their doubts about aspects of its validity and whether it was truly one- man/woman one vote. The club administration was pro-Waverley as was the then coach Ken Sheldon. The official resistance to leaving Moorabbin was led by a chap named Les Heimann. Things seemed to conspire against those who wanted St Kilda to remain at Moorabbin. The vote was held in the week after a home game at Moorabbin. St Kilda won all of their Moorabbin matches in 1992 bar one and that defeat was against us. It so happened that the vote was arranged to occur just after the Footscray game. It’s worth pondering what might have been if the vote was held after any other of St Kilda’s home games that season. In particular the Brisbane fixture from May 23rd that saw the then nicknamed Bears endures a 108 point thrashing in front of a happy and satisfied Moorabbin crowd. The Footscray loss was St Kilda’s second consecutive defeat, having fallen to Essendon on the MCG a week earlier. All hypothetical but if the Essendon loss had have been at Waverley for instance rather than the MCG, would this have had any bearing on the vote? The same again can be argued obviously with the Footscray defeat- if that happened elsewhere (in particular Waverley) or indeed if St Kilda had of won that game. Footscray had many injuries and were without crucial players and the result was great for us, but disastrous for the Saints who were clearly expected to win at home against and an under strength Footscray. I wonder how much of this may have influenced the vote.

It was a very emotional issue and although unquestionably an important issue to address, it was not what St Kilda needed at that time because they were having a good season like the year before. In 1991 they made the finals for the first time since 1973 and 1992 was expected to be a further march forward. Sadly for the Moorabbin stalwarts, those who wanted Waverley as St Kilda’s home claimed victory in that vote. Moorabbin lasted until the end of 1992, before they were in some ways coerced into moving to Waverley Park. The vote about either staying at Moorabbin or moving to Waverley came over as somewhat ‘Not Quite Right’ as the Moorabbin loyalists saw their opponents win the vote.

I well remember Les Heimann’s comments on television afterwards where he stated that the matter was now closed, “We are St Kilda first and Moorabbin second” There was one Moorabbin game left on the roster and perhaps fittingly and ironically it was against Fitzroy who moved in to the Junction Oval in 1970 five years after St Kilda had voted to leave it for Moorabbin. St Kilda’s last home match with Fitzroy was to be a farewell to their home from 1965. They won this game to send off Moorabbin in fine style and also gain the four premiership points they desperately needed to make the finals. They did take part in the September action beating Collingwood at Waverley, before losing one week later at their new home to us.

Waverley was decided by the AFL commission in the late 1990’s that it’s time was up. This was despite the valiant efforts of many people who desired its retention as a venue for AFL football. In 1999 the Southern Saints like the Eastern Hawks had played their final home (and non-home) games there. For 2000 the Southern Saints joined the Western Bombers and us in claiming the Docklands Stadium as their new home. It was a mighty task convincing the St Kilda membership to leave Moorabbin for the gold dust of Waverley. Seven years later Waverley Park was gone and now nearing the end of 2009, it is in an advanced state of housing development.

There had been some calls for Moorabbin to be recalled. Former St Kilda player, test cricketer and board member Simon O’Donnell was one who seemed willing to consider moving back to Moorabbin. The previous Present President Rod Butrress initially did not completely rule out the Moorabbin option for some games against interstate teams. However the Moorabbin option is now no longer there as St Kilda plan to move their training base to Seaford

Wherever they have played their home matches, St Kilda has always been their name. The Kilda part of their name is only ever used in conjunction with the saint word. I have never heard, read or seen anyone describe the red, white and black team as the Kildans or the Kilda’s or heard during games “Come on Kilda”, “Come on Kildans” or even – “Carn the Killers”

Leaving homes has not been a smooth process for St Kilda down the years. By going to Moorabbin however St Kilda had the massive advantage of the fertile fields of the southern suburbs of Melbourne, to plough alone. They obviously would have picked up new supporters from out that way who did not have a local VFL team to follow. It was also stated in TPOIA ON page 173:

There was considerable evidence to support the committee’s claim that it was taking the club to the heart of its supporter base, as up to 75 per cent of members in 1964 lived south of Elsternwick, while only one player came on the senior list was recruited from the City of St Kilda. Of the others, eight came from the country teams and 17 from southern areas such as Hampton, Sandringham, Cheltenham and Moorabbin.>

Despite the affection many of their fans had for Moorabbin, one of their all time greats- Harold Bray claimed years later that they should never have left the Junction Oval. There would be others who would have agreed.

St Kilda did have a different theme song- it was to the tune of “Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside” You can listen to it by going to the FOOTSCRAY AND OTHER SONGS Chapter and clicking the St Kilda image. I don’t mind that tune, I reckon they should bring it back. It could easily be accommodated with “When the saints go marching in” All that is needed is after a win – the winning teams theme song is played some times eight or more times. Well they could play the ‘Oh Wendy’ song “Oh wen dy saints go marching in” and also the Seaside Song- just play them each three times- (1) Oh Wendy then (2) the Seaside, back to (3) Oh Wendy, then back to (4) The Seaside song etc

However unlike The Kangaroos and Western Bulldogs they have not changed their name. If they had of switched to Moorabbin and dumped St Kilda, no doubt the goodwill of many St Kilda locals to accepting the club moving to Moorabbin would have been lost and their supporter base (both dormant and active) would be nowhere near the size it is. By keeping St Kilda as their name they maintained links with their history as well as gaining the support of potential members in their new area.

Leaving Home

Footscray 1996-1997 St Kilda 1964-1965.

St Kilda Football Club’s decision to move from the Junction Oval in St Kilda to Moorabbin was a tumultuous event like Footscray leaving the Western Oval after the 1996 season. Both moves were controversial and annoyed many fans of both clubs. However St Kilda’s quantum leap was not as troubled as the Footscray one.

I have often wondered how Footscray would have gone if we had of done the same thing in the 1960’s that St Kilda did in 1965, in moving away- to another suburb. That suburb would have to have been in a (then) growth area, be it an older established suburb with developing housing estates close by. I think and consider if we had of done what St Kilda did and moved in a ‘hard and straight west’ direction to say Sunshine, Deer Park or St Albans or to the north of the Maribyrnong River where so many traditional rusted on Footscray fans moved to in the 1960’s like Avondale Heights, East Keilor, Airport West or further north west to Keilor. Another possibility would have been to move in a south west direction to an older area as in Newport, Williamstown and Altona, which are close to ‘the west’s’ (then) newer areas of Laverton, Hoppers Crossing and Werribee?

The newer suburbs like Hoppers Crossing and Werribee in the south west, Avondale Heights, East Keilor and Airport West in the north- west also saw many of the ‘It is in the blood Footscrayites’ take up residence. By moving to any of those areas the club would have received the double benefits of taking the club to a newer area and winning new fans and also helping the second and third generational ‘It is in the blood’ fans introducing more easily fourth and fifth generation Footscray fans to the club rather than having children who supported another team. The point here is that with the team playing home games nearby, the probable third, fourth and fifth generation fan would stay. Or not be tempted away from the one great cause, lessening the possibility of other teams providing competition for the affections of likely Footscray supporters.

Moving away from the Western Oval could have happened, as the club did consider it during the 1960’s- there was some discussion to moving into what is now Skinner Reserve at Sunshine back in 1965 for the 1966 season. This was caused by a falling out between the club and the council. The council was the ground manager and the old argument of money problems came to the fore in that dispute. Nevertheless both parties managed to sort out their quarrel and the club stayed put at Footscray then and on until 1996, when the then new administration moved us geographically away from the west- to Carlton’s ground in the northern suburbs where we played there for the three seasons of 1997, 1998 and 1999. That move to Carlton was never going to gain us any extra fans, the Docklands move in 2000 is better for Footscray supporters than being a rent paying lodger for the Carlton Football Club.

What St Kilda did though and what we didn’t is a very interesting and thought provoking topic. Going to Moorabbin was probably a good option in the long run as it did open a gate to a new supporter base for them that they would not have been able to exclusively cultivate had they stayed at the Junction Oval. They did alienate many of their fans by this move- though the disenchantment was not as harmful to the club as it could have been, because they kept the St Kilda name despite leaving St Kilda. If they had of changed the name to Moorabbin, Southern Saints or something else with no mention of St Kilda, then they would have been not only catering for only, but also ultimately relying on the new fans out Moorabbin way to sustain the club. This is because the St Kilda residents and other suburbs near to St Kilda like Elsternwick and Balaclava that walked away would have increased by thousands and St Kilda football club would probably have been finished. The football club needed their traditional fans out St Kilda way, conceding them expendable and that they may lose them couldn’t be an option.

Opposition to the move was naturally from supporters that lived closer to the Junction Oval than Moorabbin. Their chief annoyance was the idea that soon the St Kilda name would be dispensed with and that the club would become the Moorabbin Football Club or something else that made no mention of St Kilda. There was also the perceived lack of consultation with supporters and the proverbial ‘two fingered salute’ to both the St Kilda City Council and the long time supporters of St Kilda –in particular the local ones.

How similar is this to October 1996? Almost eerily, save just a few crucial components.

St Kilda Football Club was moving to a new area- where no other VFL team was domiciled in. They also had a significant support already living in or around Moorabbin as well as the opportunity to attract a new generation of fans to the St Kilda football club- a ripe untapped fan base in a growing area that wanted a VFL club to identify with. Having league football played their every fortnight made St Kilda the obvious team to latch on to.

What else made the move more palatable was that the club was initially successful or more successful than what they had been at the Junction Oval. In 1965 the first year at Moorabbin the saints finished the season on top of the VFL ladder- this was the first time St Kilda had ever achieved this. Two of the 1925ers had already done it- Hawthorn in both 1961 and 1963- the first one also came with the Premiership. North Melbourne did in 1949, though they went out of the finals in straight sets. The other 1925er (yes us) is still to finish a season on top of the ladder. St Kilda then beat Collingwood in the Second Semi Final to progress straight into the Grand Final, but they somehow managed to lose comfortably to the fourth placed Essendon who won three finals that campaign to win the 1965 flag. Everyone who follows football knows about St Kilda and 1966, they had a fine season in 1968, made the Preliminary Finals in 1970 and 1972- the in between year they were 20 points up at three quarter time in the Grand Final but ran out of puff to a faster finishing fresher Hawthorn, who had the weeks break. They made the finals in 1973 beating Essendon in the Elimination Final at Waverley just like they had in 1972. Therefore the first 10 years at Moorabbin from 1965–1975 was St Kilda’s best spell in their history.

However it would be wrong to say that the move from the Junction to Moorabbin instantly improved the club and was the sole reason that they performed better on the field. St Kilda had made the finals in 1961 and 1963- the First Semi against Footscray in 1961 was their first final since the 1939 Preliminary, so they were clearly coming, on the way to a better era whilst still at the Junction. Moorabbin’s first game drew a crowd of over 51,000 people, later in that year another crowd of 50,000 would be there for the St Kilda v Essendon fixture. The Junction Oval wasn’t a lonely place though either- in the early 1960’s St Kilda was regularly pulling in crowds of over 30,000 – the last home game of 1963 saw over 44,000 cram into the Junction for the clash with Geelong. Their Junction Oval crowds certainly held their own against Moorabbin- not once in season 1961 did less than 20,000 attend a St Kilda game at the Junction.

Keeping the St Kilda name and not tampering with the St Kilda playing uniform placated many who were unconvinced about the wisdom of the move to Moorabbin. With St Kilda gaining a foothold in that area down in Melbourne’s outer southern suburbs, older fans that still yearned for the Junction Oval could be satisfied that although the club had left its traditional home, the change of name away from St Kilda did not eventuate and that the widened fan base for the football club was a healthy thing. So the Junction stalwarts would have eventually found it tolerable even if they didn’t completely accept or support it.

Could Footscray have made a similar move as St Kilda did in the 1960’s?

Footscray moving away from Footscray in the 1960’s- how would it have panned out for the club? We will never know for sure and can only make a theoretical comparison with St Kilda and how they did their ‘giant leap forward.’ Would local Footscray residents have accepted it? Well possibly if we moved outwards to an area of our own just like St Kilda did. To an area where people could see that the Footscray Football Club were genuinely making an effort to widen our supporter base in the western suburbs of Melbourne. In doing this we would have gained a foothold in an expanding area, although we would have to have kept the Footscray name- as St Kilda did. If we moved to Deer Park (to use one example) then that area and the suburbs surrounding it should have clasped the Footscray Football Club and widened our support. However the 1996 Bulldog Taskforce seemed to believe that by giving Footscray the flick and adopting the generic (and underused for its purpose) Western as a name, then the residents of Deer Park and nearby to it like St Albans, Sydenham, Tarneit, Sunshine and even up to Melton would feel empowered to follow us in great numbers. Fourteen years of Western Bulldogs playing home games within walking distance to the centre of the City of Melbourne when not playing in Darwin, Canberra and other places has not and will not EVER gain a significant supporter base from the Western Suburbs. It can’t for the simple reason that the club is not being brought to the people- the people have to go to it. The western suburbs of Melbourne people who go to the Docklands Stadium can go and watch the Western Bulldogs play their home games there, just as they can go there and watch other Melbourne clubs play their home games at the Docklands as well. The relocation to Moorabbin was vastly different than the Docklands situation- it was for St Kilda and St Kilda only, the club was taken to that area. We as the Western Bulldogs taken away from Footscray have been shunted to nowhere that is exclusive to us. It might temporarily stabilize the support following that the wretched move to Carlton, but it won’t increase it. New fans haven’t come to the Western Bulldogs in the numbers that such a monumental upheaval warrants to justify that change.

Footscray and St Kilda – the on field comparisons

Footscray and St Kilda have many similarities, some obvious as in having three colours- both teams sharing the red and white- St Kilda’s third colour is black whereas Footscray’s is blue. Both clubs have endured very hard times on the field and often financially off it. The lack of success of both clubs makes the scenario of a Grand Final between the two clubs something that most neutrals (non Footscray and non- St Kilda fans) would be quite content with, especially since Geelong managed to consign St Kilda to Runners- up in 2009.

The 2009 Preliminary Final was the Grand Final that most fans of those not involved in the finals wanted. Yet it wasn’t to be, due to St Kilda winning their first final on the Sunday and Western losing the day before to Geelong, meaning that these two could only meet in the Preliminary Final which they did. That 2009 Preliminary Final could be used as a microcosm to sum up the anguished history of both teams (well us since 1924.) It was a close game throughout and one team was going to go through and the other was to face teeth shattering heartbreak. For St Kilda, falling short in this game would be a disaster- to finish on top having won 20 of the 22 home and away games then to win the first final to take their season’s tally to 21 wins from 23 games would ruin the whole year. For us, it would be another lost Preliminary Final- 6 consecutive defeats in Preliminary Finals- St Kilda’s last three Preliminary Finals had ended in defeat, we had lost our last six. One team’s run of outs was to stop the other mob’s Grand Final dodging would continue on.

It would be a close match and a gut wrenching loss again- and it so happened to strike us yet again- another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in a final. There was a great atmosphere that night- loud roars when both teams kicked goals from a game where there was not many kicked that evening. Brad Johnson’s mark and play on goal in the last quarter gave the impression to ‘naturally made’ Footscray pessimists that maybe this would be our night but Riewoldt kicked the last two for St Kilda and they marched in, despite Western having give our very best. The ‘insert name team here’ clap, clap, clap is definitely monotonous and ho hum these days after 40 odd years of it, however it seemed that the St Kilda clap, clap, clap, was a lot louder and had more willing participants than the Bulldogs clap, clap, clap. Why is it not Western clap, clap, clap by the way, instead of Bulldogs clap, clap, clap? Does anyone ever hear – Saints clap, clap, clap, Cats, clap, clap, clap or Blues, clap, clap, clap? Ok you can’t split those three words in half, but why not Mag…Pies clap, clap, clap, Ti…Gers clap, clap, clap or Bomb…errs clap, clap, clap?

St Kilda won the Preliminary Final but was arguably an unlucky ricochet away from winning or even gaining a draw in the Grand Final. So since Footscray’s 1924 VFA Premiership, the dogs have won just one Grand Final and the saints also just the one. St Kilda didn’t win any before 1924 either, being an unlucky Runner Up to Fitzroy in 1913. Footscray won the VFA Premiership in 1913, but to do a proper comparison between the two clubs it has to be done from 1925 onwards when they were together in the same competition.

Who was been the more successful – or rather who has been the least unsuccessful?

If St Kilda had of won the 2009 Grand Final they would be considered by most as being more successful than us because they would have had two flags compared to our one. Anyone wanting to present a case that the bulldogs had historically more success than the saints would then have to invoke the VFA History of Footscray and push our 9 Premierships to be added to the 1954 Footscray triumph as hard and often as possible. However as this chapter about Footscray and St Kilda is a comparison the 1898-1924 seasons cannot be used in the argument. The comparison has to begin from 1925.

Here is a table that lists both clubs achievements from 1925 to 2009.
St Kilda 1925-2009 Footscray 1925-1996 Western Bulldogs 1997-2009 Both names 1925-2009
Premiers Premiers Premiers Premiers
1966 1954 Never 1954
Grand Final Appearances Grand Final Appearances Grand Final Appearances Grand Final Appearances
1965, 1966, 1971, 1997, 2009 1954 & 1961 Never played in one 1954 & 1961
Grand Final Appearances as Runners Up Grand Final Appearances as Runners Up Grand Final Appearances as Runners Up Grand Final Appearances as Runners Up
1965, 1971, 1997, 2009 1961 Never played in one 1961
Involved at the Preliminary Final stage Involved at the Preliminary Final stage Involved at the Preliminary Final stage Involved at the Preliminary Final stage
1939, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 1953, 1954, 1956, 1961, 1985, 1992 1997, 1998, 2008, 2009 1953, 1954, 1956, 1961, 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2008, 2009
Already in GF or Won Preliminary Final Already in GF or Won Preliminary Final Already in GF or Won Preliminary Final Already in GF or Won Preliminary Final
1965, 1966, 1971, 1997, 2009 1954 & 1961 Never 1954, 1961
Defeated in Preliminary Final Defeated in Preliminary Final Defeated in Preliminary Final Defeated in Preliminary Final
1939, 1970, 1972, 2004, 2005, 2008 1953, 1956, 1985, 1992 1997, 1998, 2008, 2009 1953, 1956, 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1998, 2008
Finished the season on top of the ladder Finished the season on top of the ladder Finished the season on top of the ladder Finished the season on top of the ladder
1965, 1997, 2009 Never Never Never
The Night (or alternative) Premiership The Night (or alternative) Premiership The Night (or alternative) Premiership The Night (or alternative) Premiership
1958, 1996, 2004, 2008 1963, 1964, 1967, 1970 Never won it 1963, 1964, 1967, 1970
Appearances in the night Grand Final Appearances in the night Grand Final Appearances in the night Grand Final Appearances in the night Grand Final
1958, 1964 1996, 1998, 2004, 2008 1963, 1964, 1967, 1970 Never played in it 1963, 1964, 1967, 1970
Night Grand Final Runner-Up Night Grand Final Runner-Up Night Grand Final Runner-Up Night Grand Final Runner-Up
1964 & 1998 None won all four Never played in it None. Footscray have won all four
Finished last (‘Wooden Spooners’) Finished last (‘Wooden Spooners’) Finished last (‘Wooden Spooners’) Finished last (‘Wooden Spooners’)
1943, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 2000 1959, 1967, 1982 2003 1959, 1967, 1982, 2003

The above table lists some of the high and low points of both teams. The ‘Involved at the Preliminary Final stage’ and ‘Already in GF’ (meaning already through to the Grand Final) refers to whether the clubs were playing in the Preliminary Final or in the years before 1994, when one team from each year would automatically progress through to the Grand Final without playing in a Preliminary Final. This was by winning the Second Semi Final. Footscray did this in 1954; St Kilda also won their Second Semi Final in 1965. These two occasions were the only time this happened for both clubs.

So who has been the better performed club, or put another way the easier to follow? Hard question as there has been such disappointment for both and is there anything to be gained by one team lauding it over the other? St Kilda’s accumulation of 15 wooden spoons and their fans still coming back for more is a real test of loyalty, as is supporting a team that hasn’t played in a Grand Final for over 48 years. Then in 1979, St Kilda played one away game in which they finished the match with the sum total of 3 ‘sausage rolls’ for the game. That is an average of less than one a quarter. I saw some of it that evening on the replay and thought how could you go through a game and only kick three goals, trying to imagine the St Kilda fans standing there in the outer enduring that. I need not have worried about how they coped with their low score that day for too long because, later in that same 1979 season I saw the bulldogs in the flesh play the same opponents as St Kilda on the same away ground and like the saints, we finished that away match with 3 goals.

If I am to try and get something from that match it is this. When I see a ‘celebrity bulldogs fan’ discussing their passion for ‘the doggies’ and I privately question the ‘lifelong’ proud and ‘famous doggies fan /dogs fans, or bulldog fans (they are never plain Western only fans let alone Footscray fans.) Anyhow I wonder if the likes of Julia Gillard, Muriah Muralitharan, Jason Gillespie and other politicians, sporting stars and entertainers were out there at Abbotsford in July 1979 when we were beaten by 122 points and kicked 3 goals for the match. I take it old time St Kilda fans think the same way about their ‘celebrity fans’ and whether they were there cheering on the saints at Abbotsford in 1979.

Yet St Kilda have played in five Grand Finals since we played in our last, they have also played in 4 Night (or alternative) Grand Finals since we played in our last. St Kilda won three of those four NIGHT Grand Finals, so a 50 year old St Kilda fan has seen more joy than a 50 year old Footscray fan.

So I would say that St Kilda have been the better club of the two to support –they have probably had worse low moments like 4 consecutive last finishes from 1983 to 1986, than some of our disasters, but their higher points have been greater and more satisfying than ours. We still await a Grand Final appearance- even the low brow night Grand Final with the funny rules. One day this non-achievement is all going to end and clocks on home pages can be changed or removed.


Events of 1996 – from Dr Alf Andrews

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Dr Alf Andrews Thesis – Chapter 10: Club Identity

Here is one of the chapters of the excellent thesis done by academic Dr Alf Andrews. This CLUB IDENTITY chapter, deals with the Footscray name change and move away from the Whitten Oval to Optus Oval during the bitter 1996 – 1997 years.

Chapter 10:


Of the four understandings of community identified by Ian Andrews the one most apparent during the expansion of the V.F.L. into a national competition in the 1980s and 1990s was the ideological. This interpretation saw community as being constantly threatened by the unstoppable advance of modernisation. Supporters of gemeinschaft engaged in a noble but ultimately futile battle to preserve the Game as they had once known it. While cheersquads provided a refuge for football’s communal spirit their highly organised nature was in some ways a contradiction of that very spirit.

The modern Game’s increasingly national and corporate focus prompted nostalgia for more localised understandings of community. These understandings arose among football supporters as a direct result of football’s historical role in suburban community formation in Melbourne. Prior to St.Kilda opening the floodgates of ground rationalisation by moving to Moorabbin in 1965, League clubs were identified strongly with the localities after which they were named. After demographics, economics and technology had wrought significant changes to the way community manifested itself in football the old localism, where it still existed, was merely residual.

It was in this context of declining local patriotism that Melbourne-based League clubs battled to survive the mounting economic pressures of modern football. The surprising resilience of the corporately unfashionable Footscray Football Club in the face of a V.F.L. proposed forced merger with Fitzroy in 1989, suggested that the mourners of gemeinschaft had donned the black armbands prematurely. Even after the subsequent takeover of the club’s board by a corporate coterie in 1996, evidence existed that the club’s culture had not yet made an unconditional surrender to gesellschaft.

In 1989 the board of the Footscray Football Club, faced with serious debts, authorised club president, Nick Columb, to examine possible merger options with other similarly placed League clubs. The club’s financial woes were compounded by its inability to attract either corporate or noncorporate support. Poor on-field results in 1989 had resulted in a decline in attendances, with only 8,673 attending the last home match against Richmond. Lack of corporate facilities at Western Oval severely restricted the club’s ability to attract sponsorship.1 For Columb, a businessman and racehorse owner with Liberal Party connections, the preferred option was the club’s survival in its own right, but support from the Labor-dominated Footscray Council was insufficient to convince the V.F.L. of Footscray’s sustainability. On Sunday 1 October Columb met with representatives from Fitzroy and the V.F.L. Commission to discuss the foundation of a merged entity, the ‘Fitzroy Bulldogs’, to be based at Princes’ Park. Footscray’s club directors had been divided on the issue of a merger and one of them, outspoken left-wing lawyer, Dennis Galimberti, resolved to actively oppose the idea.2 After V.F.L. chief commissioner, Ross Oakley, officially announced the merger on Tuesday 3 October the Sun’s headline proclaimed the ‘death of the Bulldogs’. Prominent television identity, Ernie Sigley, angrily threatened to relinquish his life membership of the club and local youth worker, Les Twentyman, described the merger as ‘social vandalism’.3

Although the problems that led to the 1989 crisis would cost the Footscray Football Club its identity seven years later, an injunction served on the V.F.L. on 5 October by lifelong rank-and-file Footscray supporter, Irene Chatfield, forced the League to give Footscray a stay of execution. The club was given 21 days to raise the $1.3 million needed to keep the club solvent. An informal ‘boardin- exile’ was appointed. It included Galimberti and another prominent left-wing lawyer, Peter Gordon.4 In view of events in 1996, hindsight enabled the Chatfield injunction to be seen in terms of the Kübler-Ross bargaining phase, in which the soon-tobe- deceased entered into ‘some sort of agreement which may postpone the inevitable happening’.5

Granted a new lease on life, the makeshift board immediately organised a fund-raising rally at the Whitten Oval for Sunday 8 October. The gathering attracted over 10,000 people, including supporters of other clubs, in a strong show of support for the ailing club that raised $450,000. The offices of Peter Gordon’s law firm, Slater and Gordon, in Nicholson Street, Footscray, became the headquarters for what was dubbed the ‘Fightback’ campaign.

The Slater and Gordon firm had a proud history of using the legal system to champion the rights of the underprivileged since it was founded by the selfeducated socialist barrister and solicitor, William Slater, shortly after World War 1. The firm’s early work was mostly worker’s compensation cases for the Australian Railways Union, but it later branched out into civil liberties cases. It handled the cases of conscientious objectors during the Korea and Vietnam wars and actively opposed the attempt by the Menzies Government in the early 1950s to outlaw the Communist Party. It was also involved in municipal law, tenancy cases, probate, conveyancing, family law and commercial law. From the late 1980s the firm entered the field of mass litigation, in which it displayed a penchant for representing the underprivileged against more moneyed interests. Its ‘no win, no fee’ policy provided people who could not normally afford to go to Court the opportunity to take legal action where they felt they had a valid case.6 Peter Gordon, one of Australia’s leading litigation lawyers with a reputation built largely on his pursuit of class actions on behalf of asbestos victims in particular, was the firm’s leading light and its familiar public face.7

Local newspapers, the Western Times, the Mail and the Western Independent, offered their support to Fightback and an extensive doorknock campaign was begun on Saturday 14 October. A major coup for the club was the signing of the chemical company, I.C.I., as its major sponsor. The Fightback also received support from the union movement which threatened to black-ban all V.F.L.-related projects, including the building of the Great Southern Stand at the M.C.G., if the Footscray Football Club was disbanded.8

In the wake of the successful Fightback, Footscray experienced a period of limited success in the early 1990s. However, by the end of 1996 it was once again languishing near the bottom of the A.F.L. premiership table. It had been a turbulent season with the A.F.L. keen to reduce the number of Melbournebased clubs. Fitzroy had fallen victim to an A.F.L.- brokered merger with Brisbane and the climate was such that no Melbourne-based club could feel safe from merger or extinction, let alone one with a small supporter base, crippling debts and a history of onfield failure.

As the 1996 A.F.L. finals series was being played out in Footscray’s absence, a changing of the guard was taking place at Barkly Street. Peter Gordon, who had become president of the club after his role in Fightback, resigned from his post at the same time as general manager, Dennis Galimberti. Galimberti claimed that most Footscray supporters were working class A.L.P. voters. He regarded Gordon, himself and, by implication, most Footscray supporters as ‘natural enemies’ of the A.F.L., which he saw as a ‘bastion of the Liberal Party’.9 Gordon and Galimberti stepped aside to make way for a new administration led by a four-man task-force of former players and businessmen, Ray Baxter, Rick Kennedy, David Smorgon and Alan Johnston.10

Deborah Gough, a journalist writing for Footscray’s local newspaper, the Mail, described the takeover as ‘a bloodless coup done in stealth’. At half time of Footscray’s home match against Fremantle on 12 July, Baxter, Smorgon, Kennedy and Johnston had met to discuss the formation of a coterie of sponsors to stave off rumoured A.F.L. plans to force clubs into mergers. The clandestine nature of the meeting suggested to Deborah Gough that the task-force, like the club’s previous administration, regarded the A.F.L. as the enemy. She quoted an undisclosed source as saying:

The last thing we wanted was to have a dogfight going on in the papers. That would have played right into the A.F.L.’s hands.11

The rhetoric associated with Fightback had promoted Footscray as a battling club with a local working class following. In the first half of the 1990s Footscray had seen itself as defying the trend that was making attendance at A.F.L. matches a pastime for an increasingly wealthy audience. Since her appointment in 1994, Maribyrnong Council’s chief commissioner, Barbara Champion, had been impressed by the importance that the people of Footscray attached to the football club. ‘It provides a talking point, a sense of place, the glue,’ she told James Button of the Age.12 She claimed that because the Footscray Football Club lacked the corporate connections available to clubs such as Carlton, it was ‘staking its survival on putting down roots in the community’.13 The examples she gave suggested that her notion of community was in line with Ian Andrews’s second understanding. She cited player involvement in the running of camps for young drug offenders and the employment of long-term unemployed people on the Ted Whitten project at the Whitten Oval as evidence of the Footscray Football Club’s place in a social system based specifically in and around Footscray.14

In the context of declining turnstile sufficiency, however, corporate connections had become more crucial to a football club’s survival than its role as a pillar of community. In early September, James Button commended Footscray’s campaign to sign new members but correctly identified the chief problem facing the club in its attempt to remain part of the modern A.F.L.

Sadly Footscray doesn’t do much for the A.F.L.’s big ticket items: corporate boxes and the box; top rating T.V. drama and finger-food football.15

When the task-force took over the club, outgoing president, Gordon, gave the new regime his blessing, urging supporters to work toward the common goal of survival and commending the new bosses for their ‘business acumen and [their] love of Footscray’.16 By this time the coterie was well established with over 60 corporate backers. It seemed, even at this stage, that it was not intent on continuing Peter Gordon’s stubborn rearguard action on behalf of gemeinschaft. Deborah Gough suggested that change was afoot. Without naming her source she cited one of the 60 coterie members as saying that references to Fightback should be dropped from the club song and that Footscray should no longer be seen as an underdog at war with the A.F.L. Interestingly, her source argued that the club should continue to play its home games at Whitten Oval.17

Deborah Gough’s informant was clearly not David Smorgon. Nor was her source an accurate representation of the dominant school of thought within the coterie. A report in the Age cited Smorgon as saying that the task-force had an open mind on the matter of where the club should play its home matches. Whitten Oval, the M.C.G. and Optus Oval were all under consideration.18 The full extent of the coterie’s agenda became apparent in late October, with the announcement that the club would change its name to ‘Western Bulldogs’ and play its home matches at Carlton’s Optus Oval, the former Princes’ Park.

Hailed by Gordon as a ‘fantastic breath of fresh air and opportunity’,19 the plan provoked a mixed reaction among supporters and caused a rift between the club and the Maribyrnong Council. The conflict illustrated the way proponents of differing notions of community, whether they be marked by Bender’s ‘mutuality and emotional bonds’ or by a common locality, could become divided on an issue directly because of those understandings.

In October 1990 the (then) Footscray Football Club and the (then) Footscray Council embarked on a $4.6 million project to upgrade the (then) Western Oval. The first stage was the building of corporate boxes on a new third level of the John Gent Stand, for which the club had incurred a debt to the council of $1.97 million. At the time of the task-force’s announcement of the impending move to Optus Oval there was still $1.8 million outstanding on the debt, but negotiations between the club and what was now the Maribyrnong Council over the writing off of a large portion of that debt had been taking place. The debt gave the council leverage in its bid to convince the League football club that it was not above community. Barbara Champion suggested that a move away from Whitten Oval could change the council’s attitude towards the club’s outstanding debt and put proposed future works at Whitten Oval in doubt.20

In Footscray Mall, Deborah Gough discovered a mixed reaction to the club’s proposed changes. Christine Dalipis of North Sunshine and Arnold Garcia of Gladstone Park provided responses that were typical of the opposite ends of the polarity. Dalipis felt that Optus Oval was too far to travel and was opposed to the name change while Garcia supported any changes that ensured the club’s survival.21 The territorial preoccupation of the former and the survival concerns of the latter represented the two conflicting strands of opinion that emerged.

Examination of other opinions, however, suggests that it would have been an over-simplification to regard territorialism, tradition and gemeinschaft, on the one hand, as existing in a perfectly parallel dichotomy to survivalism, change and gesellschaft on the other. Supporters, as well as opponents, of the new regime were represented among the territorialists. The former were keen to develop a regional identity rather than a limited local one. It would also have been erroneous to suggest that those who opposed change were not concerned for the club’s survival. Rather, the opposing sides held different views of what constituted survival. The new guard was focussed on the economic imperatives that it felt a rise in the club’s corporate profile would address, while Footscray traditionalists took the view that a change in the club’s identity would, of itself, preclude survival. Despite their differing views, possibly influenced by their differing addresses, Dalipis’s deep in the Footscray heartland and Garcia’s in an area closer to Essendon than Footscray, they shared membership of one of Ian Andrews’s third type of communities. Communion, shared through a common emotional attachment to club, over-rode geographical differences.

Arnold Garcia’s response would have pleased club vice-president, Mike Feehan, who announced a new membership drive with an attack upon those fans who were in the habit of phoning the club to complain about its decisions. Proving that football club democracy in the mid-1990s was in a parlous state, he justified his ‘pay up and shut up’ attitude by highlighting the primacy of the need for survival over any rights that members felt they had to influence the running of the club.

Members must take up the challenge now by renewing their membership now, not wait and see who we draft, who the captain is or even what name we play under. If we don’t have the support from members we won’t have to worry about any of those details.22

The outburst was, in effect, a use of emotional blackmail as a ploy for denying a consumer’s fundamental right to know the product they were purchasing. It constituted a telling indictment of the gaping chasm that had opened between football administrators and barrackers as a direct result of the economic imperatives of the modern Game.

Another of Deborah Gough’s respondents, Graeme Golding of Tottenham, not a Footscray supporter but a former employee of the club, stated that the club helped the ‘self-esteem of the area’ and yet thought the name change was a ‘nice idea’.23 His comments suggested that the area whose self-esteem should be nurtured was the wider western suburban region into which the bulk of the club’s supporter base had spilled since World War 2, rather than the local suburb that had spawned the club and from which it had taken its identity for over a century.

Matters were brought to a head when David Smorgon sought to justify the club’s change of name in what Deborah Gough interpreted as a ‘tirade of insults aimed at the [Footscray] area and its community’.

What do you think of when you think of Footscray? Underprivileged, third-rate, not good enough, lacking success … That does not convey the spirit that’s in the [wider] western region.24

The outburst was reminiscent of Ron Barassi’s 1989 comments that Footscray was ‘full of Vietnamese, and drug addicts’.25 Scott Cullan of the Herald Sun described it as ‘extraordinarily tactless’ and noted that Smorgon was a Toorak resident.26 Smorgon later claimed that the press had given a misleading impression of his views. He said that his comments were a reiteration of opinions that had been expressed in surveys conducted in Melton, Sunbury and Werribee, rather than his own views.27 The areas mentioned had earlier been cited by Rick Kennedy as those from which the club should be seeking its supporters because Footscray was ‘no longer the hub of the western region.’28 As had been the case when St.Kilda embraced its recognised heartland in the mid-1960s, League football’s iconography lagged well behind demographic reality.

Notwithstanding Peter Gordon’s observations at the time of the takeover, it would appear that David Smorgon did not regard ‘business acumen’ and ‘love of Footscray’ as mutually compatible. Smorgon claimed that he was attempting to ‘reverse the club’s image’ by promoting a winning mentality at all levels in the club from board members to bootstudders.29 This new image was a clear shift from the ‘people’s club’ promoted by Gordon and Galimberti. No longer was the club to be a representative of a working class community naturally opposed to an A.F.L. allegedly dominated by supporters of the Liberal Party.

Paul Adams of Yarraville, in a letter to the Mail, noted that Smorgon’s attitude was a far cry from the philosophy that had characterised the Fightback era. He drew attention to Smorgon’s position as a director of the Sydney Institute, ‘one of Australia’s premier New Right think tanks’, whose economic rationalist philosophies had helped to influence government cuts and privatisations of services ‘traditionally important for people in the west’.30

Another Fightback veteran who felt betrayed by the new regime was Denis Lupton, a Barkly Street service station proprietor.

I put a bit of money in to save the club in 1989, a lot of ordinary supporters did, and they didn’t do it to see them play at Carlton. There should have been more consultation.31

Smorgon’s negative comments about Footscray’s image infuriated Footscray resident and former mayor, Ron Jevic, who saw fit to raise the small matter of $1.8 million as a stick with which to beat the club.

When I was a councillor in the City of Footscray, the footy club was always seeking financial assistance from the community it now wants to disown. How dare they accumulate a debt of $1.8 million … to the community of ‘third rate losers’ and then say not only do we want to take your name out of the club and get the hell out of Footscray but we don’t even want to pay back the debt.32

Despite strong words from past and present municipal officials, negotiations over the reduction of the club’s debt to Council continued, with the council using the club’s financial liability as a lever in negotiations to ensure its continued presence at the Whitten Oval, if only on a limited and temporary basis. The new task-force was forced to accept a compromise on the home ground issue by agreeing to allow two games to be played at Whitten Oval in 1997, with the possibility of two more in 1998. It was clear, however, that the club saw the proposed new Docklands stadium, later named Colonial Stadium, as its long-term home match venue.33

The eventual agreement between the football club and the council reduced the club’s debt to $750,000.
The club’s administrative base was to remain at Whitten Oval to which the club was bound by a 25 year lease at an initial annual rental of $95,000, increasing to $115,000 after five years. The council was free to encourage other sporting clubs to use the oval. As the club’s main creditor, the council would be free to inspect the club’s financial records, play a role in any merger negotiations and call in the debt if it perceived that the club was no longer a true representative of the western suburbs. Council clearly held the whip hand in the deal and Smorgon made it clear that the willingness of the task-force to take positions on the club’s board was entirely dependant on the willingness of council to waive a considerable portion of the $1.8 million debt. As board members were personally liable for the club’s debt, he and his colleagues were unwilling to take on a $1.8 million debt that they had not created.34

Larry Noye of Altona felt that the ‘likeable, most approachable and dedicated’ Barbara Champion had been too soft in her dealings with the club. He felt that, as an unelected commissioner, she had erred in assuming Maribyrnong ratepayers were willing to waive the greater portion of the club’s debt. He linked the new regime of the club with the ‘domineering A.F.L.’ as the collective enemy ‘riding roughshod’ over the local community.35

Deborah Gough described the club’s rejection of Whitten Oval as a match venue and its adoption of a regional identity as the ‘death knell for suburban football’, a victory for ‘glitz, gloss and pandering to daily journos and corporate dollars’. Her eulogy appeared in a Mail editorial.

Footscray, you were all heart when all else failed. When North left Arden Street, you stood firm, when Essendon left Windy Hill, you were defiant. When it was Sydney’s dancing girls, you still had a local band walking around the oval at half-time. You offered none of the gleam but all the endearing and gritty qualities of a club trying to keep the good things about football alive.36

She argued that when a football club was named after a suburb, the suburb enjoyed a national profile. If the club changed its name that profile was lost. The football club had made Footscray famous. ‘What will Footscray be known for now?’ she asked.37 Perhaps Smorgon and Barassi had already given the answer.

Prior to St.Kilda’s relocation in 1965, the thought of a ‘Western’ club playing its home matches in an inner suburb directly north of the city would not have made much sense. The convention whereby a football club represented a place included the accepted practice that a home ground within easy walking distance of the place being represented would also be the venue for half of that club’s matches. The St.Kilda move and, to a lesser extent, North Melbourne’s short-lived sojourn at Coburg in the same year weakened that convention. At the same time, the arrangement whereby the Richmond and Melbourne clubs shared the M.C.G. became the first of a succession of ground-sharing deals that gradually reduced the number of League football venues in Melbourne. By 1996 Hawthorn and St.Kilda were sharing Waverley and Collingwood was playing the bulk of its home matches at the M.C.G. along with Melbourne, Richmond, Essendon and North Melbourne. Such arrangements would not have been possible in 1965, when all League matches were played simultaneously on Saturday afternoons. Since then, Carlton had welcomed Fitzroy and Hawthorn as cotenants at Princes Park at various times. Fitzroy’s resumé of tenancies included the club’s traditional home in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, the Princes’ Park ground, later dubbed ‘Optus Oval’, in North Carlton, St.Kilda’s Junction Oval, Collingwood’s Victoria Park ground in Abbotsford and the Western Oval, later named ‘Whitten Oval’, in West Footscray.

As the more primitive of Melbourne’s football grounds either fell into complete disuse or became simply training and administrative centres for League clubs, an expectation developed among football followers that League venues would be places that provided adequate seating and some measure of protection from the elements. Footscray’s Whitten Oval, however, provided neither of these. The ground was famous for its howling gales and its large areas of terraced, but predominantly unsheltered, mound. On a wet day one simply got wet. In a capacity crowd spectators unable to find suitable vantage positions saw little or none of the action. Nevertheless, as poor as facilities undoubtedly were, the ground was held in fond regard by more nostalgic barrackers as a throwback to an earlier less corporate era.

By 1996, however, nostalgia was not a commodity that could fill the coffers of a struggling football club. In corporate eyes, the Whitten Oval could no longer pass muster as a venue for elite Australian Football. For varied reasons many Footscray barrackers agreed. Gwen Connell, a supporter for 23 years, felt that facilities at Whitten Oval were a disincentive to opposition supporters to attend the ground.38 Ralph Edwards, a former player and backer of the task-force was sympathetic to the plight of the corporate sponsor.

We make them sit out in the rain to watch the game. Who’s going to want to pay for that. At Optus they can sit in comfort.39

A.O’Halloran of West Footscray agreed that Optus Oval was a better venue for the ‘influential sponsor’. However, she maintained that Whitten Oval was more suitable for the ‘ordinary supporter’.40

While it would require further research to determine whether any particular class of football barracker actually enjoyed getting wet at the football, the comments of Edwards and O’Halloran indicated a perception that a gap existed between the needs of the ‘influential’ members of a football club and those of the ‘ordinary’. Connell’s primary concern, which seemed to be for the comfort of visiting supporters, carried the amusing implication that Bulldog barrackers, unlike ‘visitors’, were a hardy lot who could endure anything. Taken collectively, the three comments merged into an altruistic concern for unfortunate members of the corporate sector and equally pathetic opposition supporters, corporate or otherwise, who needed special treatment because they lacked the battle-hardened toughness of the Bulldog rank-and-file.

Apart from the matter of spectator facilities, there was also considerable pressure on the club to move from Whitten Oval because of criticism of its playing surface. As part of its deal with the club, Maribyrnong Council undertook a project to re-grass the entire oval during the summer of 1996/97. Larry Noye, a regular correspondent to the Mail, emerged as a strong supporter of Whitten Oval, with the ‘impregnable’ home ground advantage that its idiosyncrasies allegedly gave the Bulldogs, during the home ground debate that continued to rage through the summer.41

Advocates of tradition over change were dealt a further blow when the A.F.L. ordered the transfer of the first of Whitten Oval’s two games for the season. The opening round clash with Fremantle was moved to Optus Oval after a ground inspection in February revealed that the ground would not be in a satisfactory condition.42 Larry Noye complained bitterly :

Paying Footscray ratepayers must trudge for the opening match to the ground promoted by the entrepreneurial John Elliot. If any ‘Son of the ‘Scray’ seeks to rest his weary stern on a seat, he must pay for it, as at 11 other ‘home’ games.43

John Elliot’s ground, with its newly built Legends Stand dedicated unashamedly to the glory of the Navy Blues, would not immediately make a happy home for many ‘Sons of the ‘Scray’. Larry Noye had exaggerated the problem slightly, however. It was not just his minor error in the calculation of the number of matches scheduled for Optus Oval but also the fact that Western Bulldogs supporters would be provided with more than adequate free seating at Optus Oval provided they were members of the club.

The ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ television advertising campaign had been produced at no cost by Chris Joiner of Corporate Images, an Essendon supporter who was persuaded by Bulldogs board member, Trevor Flett of F.H.A. Design, to offer his services. Air-time on Channels 7 and 9 was donated to the club by several sponsors who insisted on remaining anonymous.44 The club was determined to increase its membership to the level needed to enable its survival. Membership would be encouraged not just by providing comfortable seating for those who joined, but by punishing those who didn’t.

The club’s public relations were dealt a savage blow in round one, when many outraged Bulldog supporters refused to pay the required price for a seat in John Elliot’s monument to the Carlton Football Club. Non-members who did not arrive early enough to secure a place in the strictly limited general admission area were required to pay $12 for reserved seating in the Legends Stand, in addition to the general admission price of $12.50. Even members who wished to sit with non-member friends in the Legends Stand were required to pay the $12 fee.45 The thrilling Western Bulldogs-Fremantle clash was played out in front of the ludicrous backdrop of an almost empty Legends Stand as hundreds of disgruntled fans walked away, refusing to pay for a reserved seat. The presence of a paltry 8,667 customers,46 at a match from which patrons were being turned away for being unwilling to pay $24.50, was clear evidence of a marketing disaster.

Following adverse press criticism of opening round seating arrangements the club’s president, David Smorgon, and chief executive officer, Mark Patterson, issued a public apology and announced details of a less prohibitive pricing structure for reserved seating at future Western Bulldogs home matches at Optus Oval. Entry to the Legends Stand would be free for members. Friends of members could purchase guest passes into the stand for $4 in addition to the general admission price. Other adults could pay $5 plus general admission for a seat. Concession rates would apply, where appropriate, on both the general admission fee and the cost of a seat.47 While the new prices would have softened the blow, attending a home match at Optus Oval was clearly a more complicated, albeit a more comfortable, pastime than paying general admission to stand on a terraced mound in windswept West Footscray.

As has already been shown, acceptance of change at Footscray was far from unanimous. In November 1996, the Footscray Forever Committee was formed to oppose the change of name. Among its members was a former captain and club president, Jack Collins, who complained about the undemocratic manner by which the board was instituting the change.48 By February, the pressure group was reported to be considering a Supreme Court challenge to the club. Committee spokesman, Randal Killip, claimed that he had received legal advice to the effect that the club could not change its name without the support of at least 75% of its members and signalled the committee’s intention to field candidates at the club’s annual general meeting.49 It was the primacy of the need for survival that ultimately persuaded the committee to compromise its stand. The reasons for its partial back-down were indicative of the football barracker’s powerlessness against the controlling bodies of the game. The A.F.L., whose long-term national agenda would have been helped by the demise of Footscray or, indeed, any of Melbourne’s less fashionable clubs, was sufficiently impressed by the changes which the taskforce was instituting to allow the club’s continued existence for the time being. According to Wayne Jackson, the club had proceeded ‘well beyond the point of no return’. On radio 3AW he expressed his hope that the ‘small group of people’ opposed to change would realise that the new board was giving the club a chance for survival that it would not otherwise have had. There was also the fact that $1 million worth of ‘Western Bulldogs’ merchandise was already in the market place.50 This was the coup-de-grace. ‘Footscray’, as a commodity, was dead.

By using emotional blackmail in the extenuating circumstance of economic necessity, the task-force and the A.F.L. combined to crush opposition to the reinvention of what had once been the ‘people’s club’. Jackson informed the Footscray Forever Committee that the league would be forced to ‘reconsider its options’ if the club altered the new direction in which it was heading.51 This thinly veiled threat to the club’s ongoing existence was enough to force the Footscray Forever Committee into compromise. The committee withdrew its threat of legal action and urged its members to rejoin the club to ensure their right to take part in a vote on the name change at the annual general meeting in December.52

Although committed to playing as the Western Bulldogs for the 1997 season, the club agreed to the end of year referendum. Smorgon, however, was interpreting the committee’s concern for the club’s ongoing existence as a back-down and was claiming it as a ‘major victory’. Either in arrogance or ignorance, he saw fit to boast:

We have started to change the way the club constituents within the club closer together.53

Dubious though his claim to have unified the club may have been, Smorgon was able to quote statistics which suggested that the policies of his task-force were working. He claimed that membership had increased by 127% and that the club had attracted fourteen new sponsors. Many of the new members had come from the specifically targeted outlying western region.54
As impressive as these claims may have sounded, however, they represented only the corporate view. In October, when the changes were first announced, Ross Brundrett, in the Herald Sun, had this to say about the corporate view:

That’s the view you get from looking at the game and its people from behind plate glass. It’s a sanitised, simplistic view which fails to take into account the emotional attachment to a club which was kept alive by the ordinary supporters back in 1989.55

Again, there was the perception of a dichotomy between the corporate and the ordinary. Brundrett himself may well have been a shade simplistic in his implied assertion that plate glass could filter the emotional attachment out of the relationship between a football club and its corporate backers.

Nevertheless a corporate entity’s strength rested on the quantitative rather than the qualitative. As every corporate citizen knew, emotional bonds were of no value until converted into hard currency. The transformation of Footscray into the Western Bulldogs was the expression of an economic rationalism into which some of the more well-heeled members of the bulldog community were able to channel their ‘irrational’ attachment to the club. Beneath the demands of an age in which economics enjoyed ascendancy over community, gemeinschaft would need to don gesellschaft’s cloak if it were to survive.

Although the name change did not have the unanimous support that Smorgon claimed, a successful 1997 season, in which the Western Bulldogs only narrowly missed a Grand Final berth, did much to quell opposition to the changes that the task force had instituted. At the end of the season the club claimed to have made an agreement with the Footscray Forever Committee to put the initials ‘F.F.C.’ on the back of the Western Bulldogs guernsey in exchange for the withdrawal of opposition to the name change. As a result Mark Patterson announced that there would be no vote on the matter at the annual general meeting. Smorgon claimed that the deal had been struck with Footscray Forever Committee member, Gareth Stephenson. Committee secretary, Marie Thompson, claimed that Stephenson had approached the club with the plan without the backing of the rest of the committee. The club executive remained insistent that the deal would stand.56 The barely visible initials, ‘F.F.C’, found their way on to the Bulldogs guernsey as agreed. Whether they stood for ‘Footscray Football Club’ or ‘Footscray Forever Committee’ may well provide amusing debate at trivia nights in the future, but the matter is scarcely important here. Suffice to say the initials on the Bulldogs guernsey survived into the twenty-first century as a monument to the death of democracy at the western club.

There was no contention regarding the ‘Bulldogs’ component of the club’s new identity, however. As Samantha Stott put it, ‘I could live with the name change because we always cheer for the Bulldogs anyway.’57 The club had been known, either formally or informally, as the Bulldogs since at least the early 1920s.

Nicknames were used freely by early twentieth century football journalists as a colloquial way of identifying teams. When St.Kilda, along with seven other rebel clubs, left the V.F.A. to form the V.F.L. in 1896, leaving Footscray as the only club in the V.F.A. playing in a combination of three colours, the ‘tricolours’ nickname became a popular moniker for Footscray. North Melbourne was popularly known as the ‘shinboners’. One theory for the origin of this nickname was that the club’s Arden Street ground had once been used for hurling, an Irish sport known colloquially as ‘shinbones’ because of the everpresent danger of players being hit in the shins by the sticks used for playing the game.58 Other theories attributed the name to a style of play traditionally associated with North Melbourne, a style necessitated by the tendency of the Arden Street ground to become a quagmire in wet weather, which produced similar danger to the shins of opponents as the aforementioned Irish hurling sticks.59 Still another explanation linked the club to the local meat industry that provided employment for many of the players.60 It became a custom among butchers in North Melbourne to decorate their shops on match days with blue and white ribbons tied around the shinbones of cattle.61

Club nicknames, however, were completely informal and it was not uncommon for journalists to confuse the issue in match reports. In the 1920 V.F.A. Grand Final report in the Independent the ‘magpies’, Brunswick, were said to be ‘fighting like demons’ in the thrilling final quarter. The tricolours, Footscray, responded to the challenge by ‘playing like tigers’.62 The real ‘tigers’, Richmond, had defected to the V.F.L. in 1908.

In the patriotic atmosphere immediately after World War 1, it became a common practice to ascribe admirable qualities such as courage and tenacity to the bulldog. This particular canine breed was associated with Britain. A football team that displayed the courage and tenacity of a bulldog could be linked to all the finest British qualities. This golden era of imperial patriotism coincided with a period during which the Footscray Football Club dominated the V.F.A. competition. Although courage and tenacity were not the exclusive property of Footscray, these bulldog qualities were more frequently applied to it than to any other club at this particular time. At a smoke night which followed Footscray’s 1920 premiership, a red, white and blue flag embellished with a picture of a bulldog and the words ‘bulldog tenacity’ was presented to club president, Dave Mitchell. The following year’s membership ticket featured a picture of a bulldog’s head.63 Although not formally adopted as the club’s emblem until 1938, the bulldog gradually became synonymous with Footscray.

The club’s era of dominance in the Association culminated in an end of season victory over the V.F.L. premier, Essendon, in 1924 and its entry into the V.F.L. the following year. After three years of predominantly lacklustre performances, the club’s form in the early part of the 1928 season was sufficiently impressive for its home match against the reigning premier, Collingwood, in late June to be treated by the press as the match of the day. In Footscray’s local paper, the Advertiser, the headlines boldly predicted that the ‘bull-dogs’ would not be scared by the reputation of the ‘magpies’. Former Footscray captain, Con McCarthy, ventured the opinion, ‘The “bull-dogs” are doing well … and, with ordinary luck … will be hard to beat.’64 The nickname was being used in the local press with a familiarity that required no explanation. The Sporting Globe, however, still felt it necessary to explain the term to its readers.

The game between the ‘bulldogs’, as the Footscray team is known locally, and Collingwood, the League leaders, aroused tremendous interest.65

Prior to the match Footscray committeeman, Jack Nobbs, introduced a novelty which also aroused some interest. By using his own pet bulldog as a team mascot,66 he gave the proverbial source of Footscray’s renowned tenacity a physical presence. Thus, the abstract was given concrete reinforcement in the public consciousness. Thankfully, Richmond never attempted the same tactic.

The Argus remarked that it had become ‘the fashion’ for clubs to adopt a mascot and offered an ironic explanation for Footscray’s defeat by Collingwood.

The attribute of the bulldog, ‘what he has he holds’, was in some degree responsible for the defeat on Saturday. With a lead of 20 points at the opening of the final quarter, gained by speed and enterprise, the Footscray plan of campaign was to ‘hold’ its advantage rather than increase it, and in so doing it played into the hands of Collingwood, who, aided by the breeze, finished with rare determination.67

The alleged attribute was reflected in the motto, ‘Cede Nullis’ (Yield To None), which the club adopted in 1937, the year prior to its official adoption of the Bulldogs emblem.68 This formalisation was the product of a gradual reinforcement of a public perception. The perception had been cultivated over two decades by media imagery and the isolated actions of individuals such as Jack Nobbs.

At Hawthorn, however, the adoption of the ‘Hawks’ emblem occurred much more suddenly. The hawthorn bush from which the suburb, and hence the football team, derived its name, was also known as the May bush because, as Harry Gordon explained in The hard way, it was at its most attractive in May ‘when it was covered in the gold of yellowing fruit and the brown of a bronzed foliage’.69 Its flowers were known as ‘mayblooms’ and were probably the inspiration behind the club’s colours of brown and gold. In any case the maybloom became the club emblem and persisted for almost two decades after Hawthorn’s entry to the V.F.L. in 1925.70 An alternative nickname arose briefly in 1933, when the club changed its guernsey design to a brown V on a yellow background. The ‘effect of the brown dripping into the yellow’ gave rise to the moniker, ‘mustard pots’. The changed guernsey, and the new nickname which went with it were abandoned after only one season.71

A more lasting change to the Hawthorn image occurred on 15 May 1943, when coach, Roy Cazaly, decreed that Hawthorn would henceforth be known as the ‘hawks’. Cazaly had long been annoyed by what he considered the effeminate connotations of the mayblooms label. He hoped that the new name would inspire the players to ‘fight hard and carry the ball away with pace and dash to the goal.’72

Cazaly’s rejection of a floral emblem in favour of that of a bird of prey reflected the growth of an aggressive professionalism which was relatively new in football’s middle class strongholds. In the period between the two world wars impoverished working class communities in suburbs like Collingwood and Richmond had found solace and strength in the exploits of football teams whose achievements were not hindered in any way by middle class baggage such as amateurism or notions of fair play. Tough economic conditions bred tough and ruthless footballers for whom football provided a possible escape route from grinding poverty. Their successes on the field gave their supporters a vicarious source of pride that the economic system denied them. Amateurism was the luxury of middle class clubs like Hawthorn and Melbourne. The price of this luxury, however, was on-field failure. In his association of the maybloom with effeminacy and his demand for a more aggressive image, Cazaly was declaring, in the gendered terminology typical of the time, his intention that Hawthorn would be seen as powerful. Melbourne had undergone a similar change of image when it rejected the fuschia for the demon in 1933. Coach ‘Checker’ Hughes was reported to have lambasted his players for ‘playing like a lot of flowers’, urging them instead to ‘play like demons’.73

The Sporting Globe announced Hawthorn’s Cazalyimposed nickname change and, the following week, carried the three-quarter time headline, ‘Hawks lead Melbourne’.74 The Hawthorn Standard, however, took two weeks to acknowledge the new name, and then only with the self-conscious protection of inverted commas. The headline on 2 June read:

‘Hawks’ Hold Fitzroy at Critical Stage of Play.75

Two weeks later a new milestone was reached in the local paper’s acceptance of the new nickname, when the editor allowed a passage of the text to tell readers that ‘North was unable to counter the Hawks’ fast and systematic play’. In the headline, however, Hawthorn was still the ‘Hawks’, i.e. with inverted commas.76 Only on 30 June did the Hawthorn Standard allow itself to use the new nickname naked.

Hawks Fight Back Strongly in Rugged Game.77

Post-war popular journalism, in its brazen informality, no longer felt the need to use inverted commas around football club nicknames as a way of apologising for the use of colloquialism. The names themselves, once very informal and loosely applied, were eventually incorporated into official club logos and used freely and shamelessly by all branches of the media.

While Footscray had long been the Bulldogs rather than the ‘bull-dogs’, David Smorgon and his task-force took matters a little further. By including the nickname as a formal part of the club’s identity, the Western Bulldogs board was following the convention of American sporting franchises, for whom place and emblem shared equal billing. The Miami Dolphins or the Green Bay Packers were not usually called simply ‘Miami’ or ‘Green Bay’, except as an obvious abbreviation. The V.F.L. convention, until the 1980s, had been to refer to a team either by its formal or place name, e.g. Footscray, or its nickname, e.g. the Bulldogs, but rarely both. The expressions ‘Footscray Bulldogs’, ‘Richmond Tigers’ or ‘Collingwood Magpies’, although not completely unknown, did not conform to the usual syntax of Australian Rules nomenclature.

The first sign that the convention was changing occurred as a result of the South Melbourne Football Club’s relocation to Sydney. Prior to the 1982 season, it was announced that all South Melbourne home games would be played in Sydney. The V.F.L. had been experimenting with the scheduling of matches in Sydney for premiership points and believed that the severe financial woes that the club was experiencing could be overcome by developing a new market in Australia’s biggest city.

In late February, the Sporting Globe displayed the new club logo on its front page. It featured a swan against the backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the words, ‘Sydney Swans’, which, the story explained, was the name by which the South Melbourne Football Club would be known in Sydney.78 The club’s administrative and training base would remain at the Lakeside Oval, Albert Park.

During the first half of the 1982 season, Melbourne newspapers continued to refer to the club by its traditional name. The Sporting Globe’s summary of results for round one showed that South Melbourne, with a score of 20 goals 17 behinds (137 points), had defeated Melbourne, 16 goals 12 behinds (108 points). The club was listed as ‘South Melbourne’ on the premiership table.79 This convention was observed until early June, when the V.F.L. announced that the club would, in future, be known as ‘The Swans’. The Sporting Globe dutifully reported that Richmond, 20 goals 14 behinds (134 points) had defeated The Swans, 18 goals 25 behinds (133 points). However the team which appeared in 8th position on the premiership table, with five wins and six losses, was simply called ‘Swans’, i.e. minus the definite article with its upper case letter, ‘T’.80 In his regular column in the Sporting Globe, Kevin Bartlett suggested that the letters, S.W.A.N., stood for ‘Side Without A Name’.81

Jokes aside, there was a looseness about the club’s identity which persisted for the first five years of its new era. Expressions such as ‘South Melbourne’, ‘South’, ‘The Swans’, ‘the Swans’, ‘Swans’ and ‘Sydney Swans’ were all used in Melbourne newspapers at various times in various contexts, although the first two terms disappeared from the vocabularies of even the most careless of commentators after the club abandoned its Lakeside headquarters at the end of the 1982 season.

The attraction of a new supporter base in Sydney, in addition to the existing Melbourne-based membership, created an interstate factionalism within the club, which the improved on-field performances of 1982 did little to quell. In August the Sporting Globe reported that the growing Sydney membership, which was by now bigger than that in Melbourne, and the club’s influential Sydney-based financial backers were clamouring to usurp control of the club from the existing board, many of whom had been associated with the Keep South At South movement which had fought to keep the club at Lakeside.82 By October the Sydney faction had taken control of the club and it was announced that the club would move permanently to Sydney.83

A thrilling one point win over Essendon in Sydney in the opening round of 1983 raised expectations of a successful season among the Swans’ supporters on both sides of the Murray. On 5 April, the Sporting Globe remarked that it was amazing how a club’s membership could be increased by success. The Melbourne-based membership, which had plummeted to 12 by the beginning of the season, increased to over 1,000 in the week following the win. The club’s old supporters were ‘coming out of the woodwork’ and jumping on the ‘Sydney Swans bandwagon’.84 However, after the club’s second home appearance for the season had yielded a 140-point drubbing at the hands of North Melbourne, the same publication was reporting that the wheels of the aforementioned bandwagon had fallen off. As if in complete denial of the problems that had forced the club to Sydney in the first instance, the Sporting Globe’s front page headline read, ‘Come home Swans! Sydney doesn’t want you!’ The report argued that the Sydney crowds, already below the average attendances at South Melbourne’s 1981 home games at Lakeside and still falling, would fall even further as a result of the North debacle. Fickle Sydney crowds would not tolerate lack of success.85
A year earlier, editor, Greg Hobbs, had written :

I sincerely hope South Melbourne make a better fist of things as the Sydney Swans in the Harbour City. Because there won’t be much to come back to if the Sydney mission collapses.86

He claimed that ‘many of the old diehards’ already felt as if they had lost their club. For these supporters, he suggested, life would never be the same again.87 Whether or not this was the case, the character of the club was changing beyond recognition. As the old diehards faded into anonymity, their lost club became a corporate plaything, teetering on the brink of extinction for the next decade, propped up at times by a V.F.L hell-bent on becoming an A.F.L. There could, and would, be no return to Lakeside. South Melbourne was gone.

Even so, it took the Melbourne media until 1987 to accept the newly defined club. The Sun, in its regular Monday summary of the previous weekend’s matches, continued to list the club as ‘Swans’ until the end of the 1986 season.88 Only in 1987 did the weekly summary pay the new entity the compliment of traditional nomenclature by referring to it simply as ‘Sydney’.89

The use of American syntax became more blatant when the V.F.L. competition expanded to Queensland and Western Australia in 1987. Perth’s composite team was not only a parvenu to the V.F.L., unlike Sydney, whose historical links with South Melbourne gave it a relative legitimacy in parochial Victorian eyes, but its name provided stark proof that an American consciousness was pervading Australian Football. The West Australian printed a letter from P.Murphy of Donnybrook complaining that ‘West Coast Eagles’ sounded like the name of a baseball team from Los Angeles. He suggested that the W.A.F.L., the body responsible for the formation of the club, could have come up with a more ‘dinkum’ name.90

The Western Australian league was limited in its options to an extent. It could not use the simple title, ‘Perth’, because a Perth Football Club already existed in its local competition. It would have also been inappropriate to name the club ‘Western Australia’ because that title rightfully belonged to the State-of-Origin side. Nevertheless, the combination of ‘West Coast’, a term applied to a peculiarly Californian style of radio-friendly commercial rock music, and ‘Eagles’, not only a potent symbol of America but also the name of a band instantly recognisable as an exponent of the aforementioned musical style, would have been particularly abhorrent to those who lamented the Americanisation of Australian cultural institutions.

Surprisingly, P.Murphy’s letter was the only sign of dissent in the correspondence pages of the West Australian, although the editor of that newspaper suggested, shortly after the launch of the new club, ‘Traditionalists may be dubious of the new concept, with its emphasis on American-style hype’. These misgivings notwithstanding, the editor felt that the new name, despite the lack of a certain ‘ring’ to it, would be accepted by the public after the new team had been through its ‘baptism of fire in the crucible of the V.F.L.’91 He continued by noting that ‘nothing stays the same forever’. Australian sport was changing in both style and substance. Even cricket, despite the considerable weight of its traditional values, had been transformed by media interests and marketeers in the late 1970s and early 1980s and it was inevitable that similar forces would influence football.92

When the West Coast Eagles and the Brisbane Bears joined the V.F.L. in 1987 there were suddenly 14 clubs instead of 12. Within the living memories of the vast majority of Victorian football followers there had always been 12 clubs which, until 1982, had all been based in Victoria. It mattered not that four of the ‘traditional’ twelve clubs, i.e. Richmond, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Footscray, were not founding members of the League. Nor did it matter that one of the League’s original clubs, Geelong, was not even based in the same city as the others. In the context of the transport technology of 1897, the ‘pivotonians’ would have been as foreign as the Sydney, Brisbane and West Coast clubs were in 1987. It mattered not, even, that the V.F.L. itself was a splinter group that had broken away from the V.F.A. in 1896 for primarily economic reasons.

It became customary in the 1980s and 1990s for any innovations undertaken by football clubs or the League to be decried as a breach of tradition. Changes of home grounds, guernsey designs or club names, suggestions for the merger or relocation of struggling clubs and the creation of new clubs from outside Victoria were presented almost as the coming of the apocalypse. To many, longevity was the ultimate virtue and the essential foundation of tradition. New interstate clubs tended to be known, initially, by a seemingly contemptuous combination of place name and nickname until the passage of a few seasons granted them a degree of acceptance from the Melbourne audience. Tradition, in this popular sense at least, was a product of familiarity.

The potential for the development of a new syntactic tradition in club nomenclature became apparent in Adelaide shortly after the formation of the Adelaide Crows and the announcement of the club’s major sponsorship deal with Toyota. The adoption of sponsors’ names as a component of club identity was already accepted practice in such high-profile sports as baseball and basketball. The Adelaide Football Club’s original theme song, ‘Here We Go’, was an adaptation of a traditional English soccer chant which doubled as a Toyota Camry advertising jingle. The song referred to the club as the ‘Camry Crows’, an expression which was used by the popular daily press in Adelaide for a short period after the Toyota deal had been made. Subsequently the Adelaide press learned to tell the difference between the club’s official name and the sponsor’s wishful thinking. By the time the Adelaide team ran its premiership lap of honour in 1997, ‘The Pride of South Australia’ had long replaced ‘Here We Go’ as the club song. Toyota advertisements on many of Adelaide’s buses, however, still carried the words, ‘Camry Crows’.

Sponsors’ logos, which began to appear on club guernseys in 1977, became an integral part of each club’s uniform. In the 1990s supporters who purchased and wore official A.F.L. merchandise paid, in effect, for the privilege of being unpaid walking advertisements for their clubs’ sponsors. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the logical extension of advertising’s invasion of the club guernsey into the club’s formal identity had not yet been made. The bizarre scenario of a future Grand Final between, for example, the ‘Hyundai Blues’ and the ‘Drink Drive Bloody Idiot Tigers’ at, perhaps, the Microsoft Cricket Ground might have been considered possible, however.

In September 1996, while the Footscray Football Club’s new task-force was preparing to redefine the western suburban club, the Sydney Football Club was in the process of reinventing itself as an A.F.L. power. Thrilling home final victories over Hawthorn and Essendon, following an enormously successful home-andaway series, landed the harbour city club in its first Grand Final. A peculiar phenomenon occurred as the diehards of the early 1980s emerged from their anonymity. Suddenly, it was not uncommon in Melbourne to hear the club again referred to as ‘South’. The club’s historical roots became a popular topic in feature articles in Melbourne newspapers during the week preceding the big match.

Paul Croagh, the owner of the Cricket Club Hotel in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne, appeared on the pages of the Age, wearing a tightly fitting South Melbourne guernsey and proclaiming that his hotel was the ‘unofficial headquarters of the South Melbourne Football Club’. His nostalgic reminiscences of a Lakeside childhood included a vivid memory of a faceto- face meeting with his hero, Bob Skilton. Despite the fact that the ceiling of the pub was painted green, where it had once been red and white, Croagh said that it was beginning to feel ‘like the old days’. He said that many of his customers were Swans supporters and that it had been ‘standing room only’ at the pub during the Preliminary Final. Bernard Mandile, the owner of a continental delicatessen in South Melbourne, resplendent with red and white banners in the lead-up to the Grand Final, had provided ‘passionate resistance’ at the time of the relocation to Sydney. Like Paul Croagh, Mandile had been born into a family of South Melbourne supporters and believed that many of the club’s barrackers had remained loyal because ‘there is no choice when it’s in your blood.’93

At the Grand Final parade in the streets of Melbourne on the Friday before the match, a large contingent of Swans supporters was present among the estimated crowd of 50,000. The Age suggested that not all of these had crossed the border to get there.

Former South Melbourne supporters who have kept following the Swans since their move to Sydney appeared to be out in force. And North Melbourne fans were surprisingly restrained in their abuse of the interstate team.94

South Melbourne’s triple Brownlow Medal winner, and Paul Croagh’s childhood hero, Bob Skilton, felt that a Sydney victory in the Grand Final would unite the Swans ‘family’ on both sides of the border for all time. He went on:

Much of the bitterness about the relocation of South Melbourne in 1982 has already dissipated and the identity crisis that has troubled us all at times has largely been resolved. People accept now that Sydney’s roots are in South Melbourne and that there is no shame in this.95

Skilton’s words and the revival of interest in the Swans apparent in Melbourne in 1996 hinted at the last of Kübler-Ross’s stages in the grieving process, acceptance. Age journalist, Jake Niall, in an article in July that year, suggested that South Melbourne supporters had ‘long passed the emotional bereavement stage’. He suggested that old wounds had been healed by a combination of the club’s new-found success, an increased willingness of the Sydney administration to embrace, rather than shun, the club’s South Melbourne roots and the simple passage of time.96

The club’s increased exposure on television from 1982 onwards, with matches in Sydney televised live into Melbourne every second week, had raised the Swans’ profile. Old fans gradually accepted the idea of following their club on television and a new wave of supporters, raised on television football, were not averse to the idea of following an interstate club.97 Ironically, supporters who attended the club’s matches in Melbourne enjoyed a stronger sense of communion than supporters of more popular clubs because of the intimacy of being part of a smaller group. Gemeinschaft, far from being residual, had actually occurred as a by-product of the modernisation process.98

Jake Niall’s article had been prompted by a week of turmoil that had culminated in the merger of the Brisbane and Fitzroy clubs. Fitzroy, like the South Melbourne club in 1982, had a poor on-field record, a diminishing supporter base and massive debts. Its chief creditor, the Nauru Insurance Corporation that had saved the club from extinction two years earlier, was demanding immediate settlement of a $1.25 million debt. The club’s survival had become, literally, a week-to-week proposition. Only an A.F.L. decision to provide emergency funding had enabled the Lions to field a team for its round 13 engagement with Geelong. The paltry 10,504 who attended the Whitten Oval debacle that resulted in a 127-point win to the Cats did so on the understanding that this might have been Fitzroy’s last appearance.99 The club had signed a heads of agreement on 11 May to merge with North Melbourne100 and the A.F.L. Commission on 1 July threatened to remove all funding if the club could not finalise a merger and satisfy all creditors by 12 noon on Friday 5 July. The League agreed to underwrite expenses for just one more match, against Essendon on 6 July.101

Believing that a reduction in the number of Melbourne-based clubs was essential to the success of its expanding national competition, the League had offered a $6 million inducement to any clubs willing to join forces and the North Melbourne and Fitzroy clubs appeared set to take up the offer. The merger could, however, be vetoed by a two-thirds majority of club presidents and doubts had begun to emerge as to whether the clubs would agree to it. North Melbourne was insisting that the new club be allowed an expanded player list in its initial stages. Most clubs were arguing that this would give the merged entity an unfair advantage. In addition, Footscray was demanding compensation for a breach of Fitzroy’s agreement to play at Whitten Oval.102

As the deadline drew closer it became apparent that North Melbourne was not going to be easily swayed from its insistence on an extended list. Meanwhile, Brisbane Bears chairman, Noel Gordon, who had met with Fitzroy president, Dyson Hore-Lacey, in March to discuss merger possibilities, had prepared an alternative proposal to put to the League. It was Noel Gordon who emerged triumphant from the League meeting on 4 July that rejected the North-Fitzroy proposal in favour of a merger between Fitzroy and Brisbane.103

With the demise of the Fitzroy Football Club as an A.F.L. competitor in its own right, the imagery of death abounded in the Melbourne media. One of the more eloquent mourners was Ken Merrigan of the Sunday Age.

Football, the hoary old witticism runs, isn’t a matter of life and death. It’s more important than that. Life and death. The newspaper posters spoke of an A.F.L. club being born. Strangely, some of us had a nagging suspicion that a club had just passed away, loved but under-nourished. R.I.P. It had been on artificial respiration for a decade.104

The Kübler-Ross analogy was apparent in much of the reporting of the reaction of Fitzroy supporters and officials to the club’s downfall. The editorial in the same issue of the Sunday Age reminded readers that when it had been revealed, two months earlier, that the Fitzroy Football Club was close to merger, the response from officials had been denial.105 After the previous week’s match against Geelong, Martin Flanagan had described the anger of one particular Fitzroy supporter to the possibility that he had just witnessed the club’s last game. He was ‘twisting like a creature impaled on a spike … screaming “I hate the A.F.L.! I hate the A.F.L.!”’106 Dyson Hore-Lacy, Q.C., whose preferred option for Fitzroy had been the North Melbourne proposal, reacted to the ambush of that deal by Brisbane and the A.F.L. with this loaded observation.

I’ve been appearing for crims for 25 years, but I never knew what a real crook was until I became involved in football administration.107

While Hore-Lacy’s comment was vulnerable to charges of hyperbole, popular perceptions of football administrators took a battering in the latter half of the 1990s as financially-driven decisions by the A.F.L. continued to alienate a growing section of the football public. The decision in 1997 to sell the Waverley Park stadium in order to finance the League’s investment in the Docklands project was perceived by many observers as a disenfranchisement of people living in Melbourne’s demographic centre. This was the same area that the V.F.L. had vigorously targeted in the 1960s in its initial decision to build the stadium. The Sunday Herald Sun’s Rod Nicholson saw the Waverley decision as the continuation of the same process embodied in the Brisbane-Fitzroy merger.

The A.F.L. commissioners are again telling the Victorian football public to ‘like it or lump it’. Unconcerned that ‘a few’ Fitzroy supporters may turn their collective backs on the code now the club has been shunted interstate after 113 years, the commissioners have decided what is best for the 1.2 million footy followers who live in Melbourne’s south-east.108

In 1998 retired coach, Tom Hafey, and League chief, Wayne Jackson, presented the opposing sides in the Waverley-Docklands debate in an article in the Herald Sun. Hafey argued that the League already owned Waverley and that it was ideally located for attracting the many young families in Melbourne’s southern and eastern suburbs. It was also a perfect catchment area for football fans from the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland. Another advantage was that the ground was large enough to ensure seating for all without the need for reservation. Hafey stressed, also, the popularity of the ground and expressed his hope that ‘the quick buck [would not] take precedence over what the football public want[ed].’109

Wayne Jackson’s argument focussed on the financial benefits of selling the old stadium to finance the new. The $80 million expected to be raised by the sale of Waverley would not only pay the League’s $30 million commitment to Docklands but would also provide funding for a proposed new statebased Victorian football structure as well as national development of football at the grassroots level. At no point did Jackson address the issue of the popularity or otherwise of the League’s decision.110 The League’s attitude, as had been the case in the 1960s, was that what it regarded as being in the best interests of football was more important than the public’s preferences. Football’s best interests would be served by whatever course of action would generate the most revenue for the Game.

This same insatiable need, and perhaps greed, for money on the part of football administrators had been at the core of the Footscray name change. The attitude of the Western Bulldogs’ Board to the Footscray Forever Committee was symptomatic of a worsening malaise affecting relations between football officialdom and fans. Mike Feehan’s outburst against supporters who complained about the club’s decisions illustrated the growing unwillingness of football clubs to sanction dissent. The same lack of tolerance by a club board to organised activity beyond its control was apparent in the attitude of the new board that seized power at Collingwood at the end of 1998. Eddie McGuire’s moves to assume more direct control of an already heavily regulated cheersquad were an indication that the new Magpie administration wanted to disempower all possible avenues of dissent. The club’s new attitude also affected its relationship with the unofficial internet fan site, Nick’s Collingwood Page.

Initially set up as a simple gesture of homage to the club by Nick Wilson, a young technologically aware Tasmanian in 1996, Nick’s site quickly surpassed the official club site, launched a year earlier, in the services it provided for Collingwood fans. Among its innovations were Australia’s first on-line ‘live’ scoreboard, featuring the first Collingwood chat room. It also provided the first bulletin board specifically for Collingwood supporters. In cooperation with the club, Nick set up a facility through which fans could send email messages to players. This involved liaison with Richard Stremski, the historian and former La Trobe University academic who was elected to the Collingwood board in 1997 and the club’s then chief executive officer, John May.111

By 2000, however, relations between the club and Nick’s Collingwood Page had broken down. Prior to the 2000 season Collingwood had developed a new web-site through the Sportsview company. Embracing the perceived commercial potential of an increasingly sophisticated internet, the Collingwood Football Club came to regard Nick’s site as a competitor rather than an ally. Where Nick’s site had previously been sent weekly official media releases from the club, it was now kept in the dark. Collingwood’s media communications and public relations manager, Robert Pyman explained, in reply to inquiries from Nick’s father, Mike Wilson, concerning the lack of information forthcoming:

All that information is available on the [official] web-site. We only send out media releases to the media through the A.F.L. We don’t want just anyone turning up to our media events.112

When asked by Mike Wilson what was happening to the fan mail that was being sent to the club through Nick’s site, Pyman’s reply suggested that it was being ignored. As Wilson expressed it in a posting on Nick’s Bulletin Board, ‘I could tell that he thought I was just some crackpot with a web-site who was wasting his valuable time.’113

The end of turnstile sufficiency, simultaneously a cause and an effect of the commercialisation of football in the last two and a half decades of the twentieth century, paved the way for football’s administrators to gain the upper hand in their ongoing relationship with the barrackers. The A.F.L., in courting the corporate sector, displayed an increasing contempt towards the mass support upon which its predecessor, the V.F.L., had relied. Clubs, too, pursued their respective corporate agendas often in direct defiance of their supporters’ wishes, relying on an assumed unconditional devotion on the part of their followers. The precarious financial knife-edge upon which clubs walked enabled emotional blackmail to quell most dissent.

The ongoing sustainability of this co-dependent relationship between club and fan, however, looked questionable by the end of the century. The price of bargaining was becoming too high for growing numbers of less affluent supporters, and national expansion of the competition was making live television coverage an increasingly important vehicle of community formation. Whether an increasingly passive television audience would be emotional enough to be as easily blackmailed as the crowds that had once thronged the terraces looked problematical. So too did the tractability of football’s new on-line community, whose intelligence the administrators had insulted in their determination to reduce an essentially interactive technology into yet another passive consumerist avenue for League and club propaganda.

1 Lack et al, op.cit., pp.249-251.
2 Ibid., pp.252-253.
3 Ibid., pp.254-256.
4 Ibid., pp.257-259.
5 Kübler-Ross, op.cit., p.72.
6 ‘A brief history of Slater & Gordon’, Slater & Gordon, Solicitors. Internet site. Accessed 27 June 2000 at
7 ‘Who’s Who’, Slater & Gordon, Solicitors. Internet site. Accessed 27 June 2000 at
8 Lack et al, op.cit., pp.259-264.
9 Mail, (Footscray) 11 September 1996, p.1.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid., p.3.
12 Age, 7 September 1996, p.A1.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 Age, 11 September 1996, p.C16.
17 Mail, 11 September 1996, p.1.
18 Age, 11 September 1996, p.C16.
19 Herald Sun, 28 October 1996, p.77.
20 Mail, 23 October 1996, p.1.
21 Mail, 23 October 1996, p.9.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 Mail, 30 October 1996, p.1.
25 Comments made on 3AW Sports Show, cited in Lack et al, op.cit., p.249, with a reference to Sunday Press, 30 April 1989.
26 Herald Sun, 26 October 1996, p.103.
27 Mail, 20 November 1996, p.13.
28 Mail, 30 October 1996, p.1.
29 Mail, 20 November 1996, p.13.
30 Mail, 27 November 1996, p.24.
31 Herald Sun, 26 October 1996, p.10.
32 Mail, 30 October 1996, p.7.
33 Mail, 30 October 1996, p.3.
34 Mail, 20 November 1996, p.5.
35 Mail, 13 November 1996, p.16.
36 Mail, 30 October 1996, p.5.
37 Ibid.
38 Ibid.
39 Ibid.
40 Ibid., p.7.
41 Ibid.
42 Mail, 12 March 1997, p.3.
43 Mail, 26 March 1997, p.12.
44 Mail, 19 February 1997, p.15.
45 Mail, 2 April 1997, p.3.
46 Herald Sun, 31 March 1997, p.42.
47 Ibid.
48 Mail, 20 November 1996, p.5.
49 Mail, 5 February 1997, p.1.
50 Age, 13 February 1997, p.B6.
51 Mail, 19 February 1997, p.3.
52 Ibid.
53 Ibid.
54 Age, 13 February 1997, p.B6.
55 Herald Sun, 28 October 1996, p.19.
56 Herald Sun, 3 October 1997, p.10.
57 Mail, 29 January 1997, p.26.
58 Herald Sun, 1 April 1999, special supplement, Football’s fabulous century, Part 6, p.6.
59 Ibid.
60 Ibid.
61 Sandercock and Turner, op.cit., p.51.
62 Independent, (Footscray) 16 October 1920, p.1.
63 Lack et al, op.cit., p.68.
64 Advertiser, 23 June 1928, p.1.
65 Sporting Globe, 23 June 1928, p.2.
66 Lack et al, op.cit., p.105.
67 Argus, 25 June 1928, p.6.
68 Lack et al, op.cit., p.124.
69 Gordon, op.cit., p.46.
70 Ibid.
71 Ibid., p.63.
72 Ibid., p.78.
73 Herald Sun, 8 April 1999, special supplement, Football’s fabulous century, Part 8, p.3.
74 Sporting Globe, 22 May 1943, p.3.
75 Hawthorn Standard, 2 June 1943, p.3.
76 Hawthorn Standard, 23 June 1943, p.3.
77 Hawthorn Standard, 30 June 1943, p.3.
78 Sporting Globe, 23 February 1982, p.1.
79 Sporting Globe, 30 March 1982, p.6.
80 Sporting Globe, 8 June 1982, p.27.
81 Sporting Globe, 8 June 1982, p.2.
82 Sporting Globe, 3 August 1982, p.1.
83 Sporting Globe, 12 October 1982, p.20.
84 Sporting Globe, 5 April 1983, p.31.
85 Sporting Globe, 12 April 1983, p.1.
86 Sporting Globe, 23 March 1982, p.45.
87 Ibid.
88 Sun, 25 August 1986, p.63.
89 Sun, 6 April 1987, p.85.
90 West Australian, 6 November 1986, p.8.
91 West Australian, 1 November 1986, p.8.
92 Ibid.
93 Age, 25 September 1996, pp.A1-A2.
94 Age, 28 September 1996, p.A1.
95 Age, 28 September 1996, p.B23.
96 Age, 7 July 1996, SPORTSWEEK, p.17.
97 Ibid.
98 Ibid.
99 Age, 1 July 1996, SPORTSMONDAYFOOTBALL, p.5.
100 Sunday Age, 12 May 1996, p.1.
101 Age, 2 July 1996, p.1.
102 Age, 3 July 1996, p.B15-B16.
103 Age, 5 July 1996, p.1.
104 Sunday Age, 7 July 1996, p.18.
105 Ibid.
106 Age, 1 July 1996, SPORTSMONDAYFOOTBALL, p.12.
107 Sunday Age, 7 July 1996, p.1.
108 Sunday Herald Sun, 30 March 1997, SPORT, p.22.
109 Herald Sun, 11 September 1998, p.19.
110 Ibid.
111 ‘The Collingwood Football Club and Nick’s
Collingwood Page’, posted on Nick’s Collingwood Page. Internet site. Updated 18 April 2000. Accessed 18 April 2000 at
112 Ibid.
113 Ibid.

Click Here to view Dr Alf Andrew’s complete thesis


Bulldogs: Overused overkill. Western underused and superfluous

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One excuse used by the four man ‘Bulldogs Taskforce’ back in October 1996 why we needed to change our name from Footscray to Western Bulldogs- was that Footscray was a restriction on ‘growing the brand’. Our football club is apparently a ‘brand’ similar to dish washing liquid, fly spray or dog food, rather than a deep personal and family attachment passed down from generation to generation.

This was what the Western Bulldogs President of 13 years – David Smorgon was quoted saying in 2008 from the –

What’s In a Name? Plenty:

AGE article from Tuesday 8th June 2008

Here directly below between the unbroken lines is the exact quote from the Peter Hanlon story. The entire article is here as a separate chapter in this website

Smorgon says, because of a belief that the club’s identity was limited, that as Western Bulldogs they could better tap into sponsorship, build coteries and other support from the entire western region of Melbourne, with its 600,000-plus people. “We felt that Footscray was a restriction on growing our brand.”

If so then why is the Western in Western Bulldogs, 90% of the time an invisible faceless word? Western is hardly ever used and only in conjunction with ‘Bulldogs’ following it. Is there anywhere that Western is used singularly without the Bulldogs? – North Melbourne is usually abbreviated to North and South Melbourne was just South. The Melbourne part only ever followed the North and South – which was justifiable as there is already a team named Melbourne.

The Footscray situation is different because Western is supposedly the magnet to increasing our support. Melbourne alone was not the cornerstone of North (Melbourne) and South (Melbourne) – they are and were individual identities with the emphasis on them being North Melbourne and South Melbourne. So why is the ‘Bulldogs’ word used every single time and Western never used independently from Bulldogs? ‘Western’ is to the Western Bulldogs what the North and South are and was to both North Melbourne and South Melbourne. The direction (North and South) is what defines them both, opposed to our case (Western) where our direction is a ‘third rate loser’



Footscray as a club now described in two guises

(1) Western Bulldogs
(2) Bulldogs

It is never called just ‘Western’- nowhere will anyone ever see –

(a) Geelong v Western, Collingwood v Western, Essendon v Western etc
(b) Western v Hawthorn, Western v Carlton, Western v St Kilda etc

And when abbreviated the name appears in these formats –

  • W.Bulldogs
  • The Bulldogs
  • Dogs
  • Doggies
  • W.B.
  • The Dogs

And to a much lesser degree as

  • W.Bullies

Never is the club presented in an abbreviated mode as

  • Western B.
  • Western Dogs
  • Western Bull
  • Western Bulls
  • Western Bullies
  • West B
  • West D.
  • West Bull
  • West Bulls
  • West Dogs

Let alone plain Western on its own

So the logic of changing the name from Footscray to Western Bulldogs is not about consolidating a connection with the west. What it stands for is the cause of being Anti- Footscray. It is not about being Pro- Western suburbs or Pro-Western Region or Pro -western ‘whatever’ It is at pure bigotry towards Footscray. If Footscray was a race, religion, nationality, ethnic group, gender, etc it would be considered discrimination, but as Footscray is ‘just a suburb’- there is no crime of ‘suburb phobia’ as there is with racism, and religious bigotry etc. Footscrayphobia isn’t documented like other phobias- but it could be argued that there is definitely a place for that affliction to be medically recorded.

Western is supposed to be the comedian- the bulldogs should be the dead pan side kick. However we have it the wrong way around as Western is the side kick, bulldogs takes the top billing

Brad Johnson article in ‘THE BULLDOG’ magazine

The club’s official publication – ‘the Third Quarter’ edition of ‘THE BULLDOG’ magazine has an article from page 8 about Brad Johnson, celebrating him gaining the great honour of having played the most number of games for the team. The opening paragraph of this article on page 9 begins in this way as shown below –

It’s Round 8 1994. The Bulldogs are playing Collingwood at Western Oval. With eight wins and seven losses, it’s a crucial game in the scheme of season nearing the end point for the Alan Joyce – coached side.

Why is it written that way? One team is being recorded by its nickname and their opponents described by their real name.

It’s Round 8 1994. The Bulldogs are playing Collingwood at Western Oval. With eight wins and seven losses, it’s a crucial game in the scheme of season nearing the end point for the Alan Joyce – coached side.

The correct or consistent way would be to start that paragraph as either of the following –

✓ It’s Round 8 1994. Footscray are playing Collingwood at Western Oval. With eight wins and seven losses, it’s a crucial game in the scheme of season nearing the end point for the Alan Joyce- coached side.

✓ It’s Round 8 1994. The Bulldogs are playing The Magpies at Western Oval. With eight wins and seven losses, it’s a crucial game in the scheme of season nearing the end point for the Alan Joyce- coached side.

The reasons for those two above examples being correct are

Correctness: The fact was that Footscray was our official name, back then in July 1994 not ‘The Bulldogs.’ It was Footscray v Collingwood, not The Bulldogs v Collingwood

Consistancy: It is either the real name or the nickname for both teams. If we need to be referred to by our nickname, then so should the other team. The Bulldogs v The Magpies- although trivialising both clubs when used as the introduction of both is childish- it is at least consistent. There is another chapter on FNWB about the club being trivialised by the over use of the bulldog(s)

Back to ‘The Bulldog’ magazine. Why doesn’t the club call it ‘The Western’ or ‘The Westerner’? That may be a matter of semantics- but this is the emphasis again on the bulldog part of the name rather than the western. If the target audience is the western suburbs/region- it certainly isn’t obvious because all the emphasis is given to the bulldog(s) Western is superfluous.

Western does not justify its existence; or rather it has no opportunity to present its case, because it sits in the basement while bulldogs receive the top billing and neon lights. Western may as well be discarded from the name- because what is the purpose of it? The club could be just the ‘BULLDOGS’ in the same way that North Melbourne was from seasons 1999 to the end of season 2007 just ‘KANGAROOS’. (and without the ‘THE’ in front of Kangaroos).I wouldn’t support that- we must return to being Footscray- being just BULLDOGS is equally wrong as WESTERN BULLDOGS; however the club would at least move up the list alphabetically as below with both the current alphabetical listing and then a revised one should Western be thrown to the doghouse, as these two tables below show.

Alphabetical listing as Western Bulldogs Alphabetical listing just as Bulldogs
1 Adelaide 1 Adelaide
2 Brisbane 2 Brisbane
3 Carlton 3 Bulldogs
4 Collingwood 4 Carlton
5 Essendon 5 Collingwood
6 Fremantle 6 Essendon
7 Geelong 7 Fremantle
8 Hawthorn 8 Geelong
9 Melbourne 9 Hawthorn
10 North Melbourne 10 Melbourne
11 Port Adelaide 11 North Melbourne
12 Richmond 12 Port Adelaide
13 St Kilda 13 Richmond
14 Sydney 14 St Kilda
15 West Coast 15 Sydney
16 Western Bulldogs 16 West Coast

Where are the fans won over to the name changed Western Bulldogs?

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Groucho & Einstein

Does anyone really know someone in particular from the Western Suburbs of Melbourne or anywhere for that matter that changed club allegiance FROM their own non- Footscray team, TO the Western Bulldogs AFTER and BECAUSE Footscray became the Western Bulldogs?

Well I always believed no-one at all who was a resident of the “Western Region” changed their support for Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon, Richmond, Geelong, Hawthorn etc to the Western Bulldogs until receiving this correspondence back in 2005.

Again what is the Western Region / Western Suburbs and where does the Western Region / Western Suburbs start and finish? When and where do the Western Region / Western Suburbs become the Eastern / Southern and Northern Region / Suburbs?

Anyhow just underneath in blue is one person that was evidently won over to the club by the name change according to her brother who dispatched this to FNWB in 2005. Here is the proof of the success of Western Bulldogs replacing Footscray according to this bloke. Nothing has been altered or changed in this email, it is exactly as he sent it, copied and pasted, containing his own particular and unique spelling and syntax.

I am baffled by your explanations on your FNWB websites, as to the reasons why our wonderful football club should be called it original Foostcray name and not it’s current Western Bulldogs.

You seemed to pre-ocupied with the idea that if the name change is good enough for us, why is it not so with the other nine melbourne based clubs. You seem to take no notice of the fact the each club is a individual corporate enity, and therefore must make decisions regarding it’s own business opperations. You’re jokes of the Eastern Hawks and Northern Blues are ridiculous, as is the point you’re trying to make, but you make no mention to the fact that these clubs have individual business requirements, and therefore what works for one club, may not be best for another club.

Our club traditionally has had one of the lowest supporter bases in both the VFL and the subsequent AFL, duely with that, our club has also suffered a lack of on field success, which again impacts of our ability to attract new supporters. For these reasons, amougst others, our club has not been able to have the financial cushions enjoyed by our neighbouring clubs over the years. South Melbourne and Fitzroy neither had these elements as well, but these clubs failed to look outward and be pro-active in their business’, and thererfore were forced by the competition government to relocate interstate. I argue that the name change to the Western Bulldogs, which I would support if asked to vote for, has played a part in keeping this club in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. I grew up in the Western Suburbs, not Footscray, but outer western, and now live in West Footscray, and are extremely proud of my western herritage, and thus more proud to support Western Bulldogs than Footscray.

I argue that the name change hasn’t meant that everyone from the west has changed their club alligance, yes still there are Collingwood supporters in St. Albans, but you fail understand the name change attracts to a new breed of supporter, one looking for a team to support. A supporter growing to support the Western Bulldogs, not changing simply because of the name. However, I will admit that my sister was a life long North Melbourne Supporter, but now feels it important that she supports the Bulldogs, since they have become a club of the Western Suburbs, and she is a Western Suburbs girl. She has no interest in the Kangaroos more. You may have been lost to the Western Bulldogs, but so many more have been won.

The name change by an un-elected board in October 1996 may be unliked by some, like you, but has this board been elected out of office since? Smorgan was the leading figure then, and allthough certain board members have been replaced, he was re-elected just last year into the position. Why hasn’t anyone has shares your point of view stood for the presidency or board membership at the club? Is there not enough of you out there? Apparently, according to you, there is enough to the change the name again in a vote.

And by the way, the club is still the Footscray Football Club, it trades as the Western Bulldogs. Simiarly I work for ‘Sims Markette’, which trades as ‘Sims Supermarket West Foostscray’, and I don’t hear any of the loyal customers complaining.

I would enjoy and educated argument with you, as in the end we are both loyal followers of the red, white and blue. Feel free to come to Sims on Barkly St, not far from the Footscray Football Club, trading as the Western Bulldogs. Just ask for Groucho.

“Groucho Einstein”

Well Groucho Einstein isn’t this bloke’s real name I have selected that as I wasn’t sure whether he was a comedian or a genius so I adopted Groucho Einstein rather than say Albert Marx or anything else. Similar to the cricketing scenario when the fieldsman chases the ball and when returning it for a possible run out, throws it to the centre of the wicket because said fieldsman claims that he couldn’t decide whether to throw it to the bowler’s end or the keepers end.

I was going to leave out the part Groucho wrote about his job, so as not to unnecessarily identify him and his workplace, but as it was such a crucial part of his argument and it would have meant his correspondence was edited and thus not the whole story. Therefore I decided that it could NOT be left out. So only his name was changed.

So there above is one fan from the Western Suburbs / Western Region that the name change attracted to the club.

I argue that the name change hasn’t meant that everyone from the west has changed their club alligance, yes still there are Collingwood supporters in St. Albans, but you fail understand the name change attracts to a new breed of supporter, one looking for a team to support. A supporter growing to support the Western Bulldogs, not changing simply because of the name. However, I will admit that my sister was a life long North Melbourne Supporter, but now feels it important that she supports the Bulldogs, since they have become a club of the Western Suburbs, and she is a Western Suburbs girl. She has no interest in the Kangaroos more. You may have been lost to the Western Bulldogs, but so many more have been won.

Well Western does mean something to someone and so many more although I don’t know who these ‘so many more’ are as there is no elaboration about them. As for this new breed of supporter how often does this new breed come through? Also what is this new breed of supporter and whatever they are why would a club who changed their name to a direction necessarily and automatically appeal to this ‘new breed of supporter’

Somewhat funny how Footscray having our name changed to Western Bulldogs means that we are now ‘a club of the Western Suburbs’ yet were of no or minimal appeal to the Western Suburbs prior to 1997 when we were the only team in Melbourne playing its home games in the western suburbs of Melbourne! However the new (of 1996) administration changed our name to Western and that means we really are a team of this west although the new administration decided we had to play our home games at Carlton in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. So all these people from the outer western suburbs like G.E can feel more attached to the club now on a Saturday afternoon going to the game. Yes all of them are now leaving home (or the supermarket) earlier to watch the Western Bulldogs take on West Coast or Fremantle at the Docklands than what they did when watching Footscray playing either of those two at the Whitten Oval in 1996. So when their turning from Ashley Street into Barkly Street and progressing down Barkly Street to not long before it changes its name to Dynon Road they will pass the Whitten Oval, wave to it as they go by. Then they remember how they need to fill up with petrol or they won’t have enough to get to the Docklands and back. As their filling up with fuel they all feel such happiness that they are travelling into the city rather than to West Footscray, as it reinforces to them how important it is that they now support a club that is truly ‘of the Western Suburbs’

And by the way, the club is still the Footscray Football Club, it trades as the Western Bulldogs. Simiarly I work for ‘Sims Markette’, which trades as ‘Sims Supermarket West Foostscray’, and I don’t hear any of the loyal customers complaining.

It is funny how dummies like me haven’t picked up on it yet or still need to be reminded ‘by the way’ that it is still the Footscray Football Club trading as the Western Bulldogs? Well I feel better now, knowing that.

For some strange unexplainable reason, I assumed Footscray was gone forever. Maybe I should look harder at the footy record or the newspapers because I can only read it as Essendon v Western Bulldogs in the newspapers or in the record? Or perhaps glasses are in order when at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and both the scoreboards proclaim – Melbourne v WB?
I just can’t hear or see Footscray anymore, is something wrong with my eyes or hearing because it is still part of the official name (Footscray Football Club Trading as Western Bulldogs) as GE points out? It sounds feasible that if Oscar Wilde could come back from the dead, he would support us because we are without doubt “The Club That Dare Not Speak Its Name’?

As for the Sims Supermarkets or whatever they are called now, am I expected to refuse to go there anymore (even if they dropped their prices) because they changed their name? Yes absolutely for sure, I should be consistent and walk (or drive if too far to walk) past there and go somewhere else and pay more on groceries and petrol to get to another shop because this supermarket has a new name. Maybe you would drive past it too and be also outraged at any and every grocery store that changes its name?

And by the way, the club is still the Footscray Football Club, it trades as the Western Bulldogs. Simiarly I work for ‘Sims Markette’, which trades as ‘Sims Supermarket West Foostscray’, and I don’t hear any of the loyal customers complaining.

I would enjoy and educated argument with you, as in the end we are both loyal followers of the red, white and blue. Feel free to come to Sims on Barkly St, not far from the Footscray Football Club, trading as the Western Bulldogs. Just ask for Groucho.

Well I am not smart enough in such esteemed company to ‘enjoy and educated argument??? Then I can’t feel free to go to that supermarket because it changed its name. Money making concerns like supermarkets changing their name really upset me more than 100 year old football clubs that have been in the family for generations.

Anyway now that the Kangaroos are North Melbourne again, I wonder what his sister thinks about her old club reverting back to North Melbourne?


City of Footscray 150 years 1859-2009

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It is the 150th anniversary of Footscray the municipality

City of Footscray

With the disappearance of the old Footscray Council- it now dispenses services under the name of the City of Maribyrnong, the upcoming 150th anniversary of Footscray being awarded the status of a municipality will not receive the kudos and fanfare that it deserves. If the City of Maribyrnong was still the City of Footscray there would definitely be major commemorations surrounding it. Sadly it will almost be like what happened or rather didn’t happen in 1998.That year was the 100th anniversary of the Footscray Football Clubs first senior Premiership back in 1898. Hardly anyone knew about it and it was not celebrated in any way. Last year there was no club organised 30th anniversary get together to remember the Saturday July 1st 1978 when we kicked the record score.

Footscray became a municipal city in 1859 and this continued on until 1994, the ‘Footscray Council’ as such and in that name functioned for 135 years. This concluded in 1994, when the then state government of the day (led by the current President of the Hawthorn Football Club) decided in their wisdom to amalgamate councils across Victoria. Therefore the City Of Footscray was disestablished and the City of Maribyrnong was its new name. This happened all over Victoria- it had nothing to do with Footscray or the football club, the decision was made by the Victorian state government.

Yet happily the City of Maribyrnong is making a bit of a fuss about the 150 anniversary of Footscray. There will be a gala day in the Footscray Mall on Sunday 18th July 2009.

For such a big milestone there will be recollections and reminisces from leading Footscray citizens as well as celebrity ex Footscray residents who may hopefully attend. Footscray’s most well known institution is the Footscray Football Club and surely the football club would be represented. Yet would it be correct to have the President of the Western Bulldogs there? Remember the advertisements from Victor Kiam about Remington shavers-

Victor Kiam
“I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company!”
Victor Kiam

What could the Western Bulldogs President say about the 150th anniversary of Footscray- it certainly wouldn’t and couldn’t be anything resembling the stamp of approval that Victor Kiam provided for Remington Shavers? A probable example along the lines of-

My opinion of Footscray was such that as soon as I take over, I decided that the Footscray name MUST be removed totally from all facets of the football club -because when you think of Footscray you think of 3rd rate losers lacking success.

Yes that would be the perfect paradoxical way for “The Bulldogs” to commemorative Footscray’s 150th anniversary. Probably best that he either stays at home in Toorak, or goes out somewhere else rather than appear in the Footscray Mall and be photographed and fawned over by the print and electronic media. What a farce that would be, but the bigger joke would be how it won’t register to so many the irony of it all- the hype for the bloke who changed the name of the club! A celebration of and about Footscray and the big deal is about someone who lives miles away and got rid of that name! Thanks for coming, see you in 25 years for the 175th in 2034.