Almanac Reviews: Alberton Hotel, Alberton Oval

 

In the dining room there’s an upright piano.

 

This declares much about the Alberton Hotel: traditional values, a vibrant history, a suggestion of simpler, better times when live music was the entertainment.

 

Of course, there’s also a sign forbidding anyone to touch it. It’s a truth widely acknowledged that nobody wants their salt and pepper squid sound-tracked by a kid or drunk uncle banging out ‘Chopsticks.’

 

Still, there’s nostalgic delight in a pub piano.

 

The front bar bursts with football memorabilia. Framed premiership photos, ancient posters, murals. Both the Magpies and the Power. Which one is it? No, sorry, it doesn’t seem like one club. Drop Igor from Siberia in here and ask him how many clubs he can see. Igor will reply, “Is two.”

 

But it’s a traditional front bar and promoted on the website as one, ‘enjoyed by all the family’ and there’s kids in here with dad and granddad all around a table, in their Power tops. The atmosphere is pre-match, festive, Saturday.

 

Velour coats, black cans and fags are in vogue out in the sports garden. There’s a gigantic TV screen showing the early spring races. My Coopers pint is well-priced at $7 and while nursing this, Nature Strip, one of the country’s best sprinters, wins at Randwick.

 

A brisk shower squalls over as my beef parmigiana arrives, hearty and tasty, with a decent tangle of golden chips (mercifully not buried beneath the schnitzel). My salad includes pickled purple cabbage, and it’s an unexpected treat.

 

*

 

Today I’m also making my Alberton Oval debut. How can this be? Unlike Glenelg Oval, parking’s easy and there’s no 2-hour limit. I see no sneering knots of yoof in Everlast tops, and the lawns all look clipped. It’s a handsome suburb with splendid villas and bungalows. I enjoy the walk.

 

Coming through the Bob McLean Gate, the cheer squad is going off-chops. And we’re still a few minutes before the bounce. I’ve not seen (or heard) a real SANFL cheer squad for years so congratulations Port.

 

I survey the ground. It’s long and broad and the turf is immaculate. Like the best sporting complexes, it’s a measured mix of the historic and the modern. The old grandstands are low and cosy while the Allan Scott Power Headquarters is sleek but not daunting.

 

I locate the imagery I was anticipating. The Dry Zone is empty. There’s an octogenarian in knee-high ugg boots. Near me is a skull completely covered in a curious tattoo and then, of course, I see his hairstyle opposite, Greg Anderson, whose locks, I suspect, will forever be 1990. While he was a fine footballer, his Vanilla Ice mullet should also enter various halls of fame.

 

A bar offers Point Nine beer by Pirate Life. It’s a ‘hop forward ultra-light.’ I ask for a 2007 grand final commemorative lager, the One Hundred and Nineteen, but they’ve sold out.

 

Unlike Glenelg home matches there’s no shrill, unrelenting music between quarters. Just a welcome chance to chat. Ducking into the Social Club it’s festooned in celebrated iconography. Ebert, the Williams family, Ginever. Unforgivably, no Bomber Clifford. This is a unified crowd, a mob who love their preacher, a bunch happy with their evangelism. Ambling about the ground the sense of community is indisputable.

 

Port’s in front all game courtesy of a five-goal opening stanza. The swirling breeze makes for scrappy footy punctuated by lightning bursts when one side gets clear. Glenelg’s not been in great form over the past month but has scrambled some last quarter escapes. While the Magpies get good service from some of their AFL types in Hartlett, Mayes and Woodcock they’re not the difference.

 

After seventeen consecutive wins, with all this significant history looming, Glenelg’s final minor round match is a loss at Alberton. But I’ve enjoyed an afternoon plunged in football culture.

 

However, and this really disappoints: I don’t spot a single duffle coat.

 

 

More from Mickey Randall HERE

 

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Last time I was there was June 5 1994, watching Skinny Francis play his sole league game for Port. Time before that was also a non-Centrals game, watching a workmate play his 100th match for Sturt (1988-ish).

    I saw Centrals beat them there once and lived to tell the tale.

    I don’t drink much these days, but I might order a slab of 119.

  2. Alongside Skinny the other sole gamer in which I have an investment is Callum Ferguson who is an old Marryatville boy (and of course played a single Test). I don’t understand the logic in dropping anyone after a single game. Surely what the selectors saw hasn’t evaporated overnight? Or is the dropping an admission of failure on their behalf? I wonder about Steve Waugh who took nearly four years to make a century. Nowadays would he be just a curious discard and a trivia question?

    I reckon the 119 continues to drink well. It’s an ageless beer. Thanks Swish.

  3. Your pub visits are killing me, Mickey.

    I am attempting to live through you vicariously,
    but alas it is just not the same.

  4. Roger Lowrey says

    Mickey,

    Love the vivid picture you have given us here.

    In no particular order, my responses as follows:

    1. “Pickled purple cabbage???” Sounds like something out of “Sun On The Stubble” for mine.

    2. Buried chips. We are soulmates on this one though. Why would they think they need to be hidden unless, of course, there is a logical reason for the subterfuge.

    3. Loud music at Glenelg games? Until this point, having digested one of your previous posts in admiration about how past players served in the can stand during games, I had thought the club was a little more audience friendly than that. Pity.

    4. Duffle coats. This is a very sore point comrade as all the cool kids wore them at school but I could never persuade my parents to get me one. Perhaps they thought this was one of the signs predicted to the children by Our Lady of Lourdes that duffle coats would be the 20th Century harbinger not only of anti Catholic communist aggression across the world in general, but also, of an emerging hedonist zeitgeist of “if it feels good do it and bugger how many Hail Marys I have to say in penance” among young Geelong Catholics in particular.

    Just a few idle thoughts

    RDL

  5. I was there on Saturday too and agree with just about everything, although must confess no visit to the Alberton Hotel. Suspect you may not have searched hard enough for the missing duffle coats though, as I would be certain there would be one or six among the “cheer squad” at the northern end. Have heard that mob make a very significant racket at times in the last few seasons. Saturday was not the best day for your Royal Visit though, with the Quinn Stand closed for works and only the Williams Stand available, but our Covid Marshalls did manage to keep out most Glenelg riffraff….

    Up until this year we also managed to keep the pre-game dancing girls going, although possibly Covid has ruined that too. Anyway, welcome to the real football world, where nary a Crows supporter has ever been seen!!

  6. Just realised too, the irony of your comment about the lack of music/noise between quarters was because the Quinn Stand was closed and that is where the PA system is….

  7. Daryl Schramm says

    Been to Alberton many times as I have all Adelaide suburban venues. Never been to the Alberton Hotel though. Will go there for a squiz one day. Also got a reality check yesterday with a friend describing the impact of lockdown on families in Melbourne. Thoughts are with you all.

  8. Smokie- hoping Victoria’s able to open up soon. I can still remember how many days the pubs were shut here last year in our lockdown- 92.

    RDL- I was most surprised by the pickled purple cabbage- but it was a zesty treat. I think a Royal Commission into Buried Chips is overdue. Happy to give evidence.

    Bucko- regarding duffle coats: I wasn’t brave enough to infiltrate the cheer squad although with my lack of Glenelg attire I was travelling incognito. So there’s ordinarily music at Alberton! There I was thinking how great it was. While the music played at Glenelg isn’t bad it’s not what I’m after. I’m with Martin Flanagan (and others) who wish to reclaim the soundscape at the footy. I may write a letter!

    Agreed Daryl. I suspect the mental health impacts may eventually outweigh those of the virus.

    Thanks to all.

  9. Dad always said there should be a sign at the point where Port Road bends and becomes Alberton – “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”. In the 60’s my Nan and Pop took me to the footy every Saturday except Elizabeth Oval (too far) and Alberton Oval (too humiliating and/or scary).
    Nan and Pop were both feral Torrens supporters and I suspect an afternoon’s rabid barracking would have resulted in an evening at QEH ED. I went once on my own in my early 20’s. Same humiliating flogging but I travelled incognito and just observed the wild animals in their natural habitat.
    I’m thinking there could be a series of David Attenborough documentaries:
    Blue Planet – extinction threats from the Pratt Stand
    Wild Planet – Victoria Park observed
    Frozen Planet – the Waverly years
    Lost Worlds – Fitzroy Remembered
    The Private Life of Plants – Wayne Carey: the Crows years

  10. Very good PB. I reckon Frozen Planet 2 could be set at Footy Park while I’m happy living on Planet Claire.

  11. Mickey, I have to confess that, in normal times, the music in the Quinn Stand is pretty low volume. It is, however, still irritating and pointless. Maybe not quite as bad as the infernal racket one gets at every interval at Adelaide Oval AFL games. What is it with the AFL and other bodies who have concluded that PAYING customers want their eardrums assaulted at every moment there is no sporting action? Cricket has gone the same way, with some thickhead given a micoriaphone to announce the blindingly obvious, usually also visible on the wonderful AO scoreboard. Many of us want to have friendly discussion with the folk who came to the game and sit with us, or at the very least, those nearby. Sorry, but cricket has lost me and football is doing its best.

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