One of the justifications used by some as to why it was a good idea to dump Footscray as our name is that the actual Melbourne suburb of Footscray no longer attracts shoppers to the area.
This assumption about reduced turnover in the Footscray Central Business District (C.B.D) would be correct, as shopping in Footscray doesn’t draw the huge numbers that it used to. The good old days of the Footscray CBD, with the Footscray Mall and Forges, don’t enjoy the same patronage today in 2009 as years gone by. One explanation for this- is the advent of the big shopping complexes, the Highpoint West facility out at Maribyrnong is possibly the main reason for this? Footscray also can be a difficult place to get a long term parking space unlike Highpoint and other major shopping centres. The car parking problems are a big issue in most Melbourne suburbs
There are other reasons too, the Footscray CBD (please note NOT the entire suburb and postcode of Footscray 3011- but the Footscray CBD alone) does have a problem with delinquents and trouble makers that frequent the area- just as delinquents and good for nothings congregate in other towns and cities in Australia. However this also happens in other Melbourne suburbs, some of the many examples which would be Richmond, Collingwood, St Kilda, and Carlton. Then there is Victoria’s second city Geelong, which also would have its CBD enduring modern crime. It isn’t an exclusive phenomena restricted to Footscray and nowhere else.
Nevertheless although the Footscray shopping situation is a problem and a major worry for Footscray traders, the quieter turnover in that CBD isn’t something that needed to result in the Footscray Football Club changing its name to escape the connotations with the Footscray Central Business District. If it was such a stigma then the whole lot should have gone from the title- so no more Footscray Trading as Western Bulldogs. If it is so horrible then get rid of the ‘Footscray trading as’ part from the fine print of the club’s official name. Just let the club be legally known as Western Bulldogs in our tax statements. Why keep the Footscray if the powers that be hate it some much?
Who shops in Collingwood anymore?
Whilst I feel sorry for those trying to maintain or establish a business in the Footscray CBD, how many people regularly make the effort to shop in Collingwood these days? If it is such a problem for Footscray, then why is it not a problem for Collingwood, or for St Kilda, Carlton and Richmond? The halcyon days of what was the famed Richmond shopping precinct have long ended. Collingwood’s shopping area’s golden days were entering their twilight when Jock McHale was alive. James F. McHale died in 1953, soon after that season’s Grand Final. Collingwood Football Club would never consider becoming the Eastern Magpies- it would never have been thought of changing the club name away from Collingwood.
It would be fantastic if Footscray was to return to being a thriving business district that attracted shoppers from many miles away as it did in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s and before. Yet even if it doesn’t, the Footscray name should not be further ridiculed or airbrushed out of the public domain. Because no other Victorian AFL club hides from their heritage- no matter how stigmatized their suburb where they were born is.