Almanac Soccer (History): The press box at Chaplin Reserve


The end of civilisation as we have known it or the press box at Chaplin Reserve


by Roy Hay


The detritus of the demolished press-box in the foreground. Source: Caroline Springs George Cross website.



Sunshine George Cross soccer club has moved to Caroline Springs and its previous home at Chaplin Reserve is no more. The old press box has been demolished and Ian Syson asked me today about memories of the venerable tin shed on stilts.


I used to cover National Youth League matches there in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I would normally have the press box to myself, apart from regular visits by Victor Brincat, club historian and general man about the club, the lynch pin of George Cross. Then I graduated to Super Soccer Sunday on local radio with Peter Desira, Sabastian Italia and Greg Blake. I was known as Cyclops by the last of these, as the One-Eyed North Geelong supporter. North Geelong had made it into the Victorian Premier League and won the Premiership in its first season in top competition. Still the only team to do so.


A regular feature was waiting for Laurie Schwab to arrive late. He had been in the ground since before kick-off but had so many friends it took him about a week to get to the press box. ‘Have you got a sheet of paper?’ Rip off one for him, which he neatly tears into four pieces and fills with tiny, dense notes. Five minutes before the end of the game he is on the phone to the Age delivering in beautiful sentences a match report the like of which I could never produce no matter how long I had before a deadline. Sometimes the result would alter in those five minutes, but the man never wavered and the final pars would seem as inevitable as if nothing had happened.


I’ve been there when the whole box was rocking as Georgie fans shook it when something happened to upset them and they wanted to take out their frustrations on the media for some reason or none. I saw a young John Markovski begin to exert his huge frame and influence on the game.



John Markovski, rear right, with two other superstars of the game, Alan Davidson and Josip Biskic of Melbourne Croatia. Photo: Les Shorrock.



Much earlier Ernie Merrick had coached Sunshine George Cross and he gave Kevin Muscat a start at senior level. They went on to become one of the most successful coach-captain partnerships in the Australian game at Melbourne Victory in the A–League.


Like many other Australian clubs, George Cross has been peripatetic. In 1964 it won the Australia Cup with the final being played at Olympic Park in front of 15,000 fans. At that time its home ground was at Olympic Village in Heidelberg, then Martin Reserve in Fawkner and later it shared Schintler Reserve in Footscray, before amalgamating with Sunshine City and settling at Chaplin Reserve. Now they are in Caroline Springs in a sparkling new complex.





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  1. Dennis Gedling says

    Great stuff Roy. An opportunistic move to get dug in to the new sprawling West by George Cross? Might make a better dig of it than Western United.

  2. Thanks, Dennis. That is if they stay there for a while. One of these days I must do something on the nomadic versus the stay-at-home clubs, that is if there are any of the latter.

  3. Lovely little insight. Thanks Roy.

  4. Victor Brincat says

    Good read Roy. After 38 year at Chaplin Reserve, I am certain the Georgies will remain at City Vista Court long after I have exited this world.

  5. Victor Brincat says

    P.S Roy that’s not the press box being demolished, it’s the clubroom.

  6. Dennis Gedling says

    Speaking of John Markovski, big Jonah just turned 50 last week too. Unstoppable in his day when fit and hungry (for goals…not sausage rolls.)

  7. Thanks Victor. Had the press box already gone then? I can see that the machine is pulling down the clubroom, but I thought the pile of rubbish in the foreground was the remains of the press box. I should have checked with you before I sent the piece to my friends at the Almanac

  8. Albion Rover says

    The passion/rage of the home fans was a sight to behold as George Cross battled to survive in the NSL in the 1980s. I recall an especially irate duo repeatedly hurling themselves against the outside of the cage that separated the dressing rooms from the pitch while on the inside John Gardiner calmly explained to the SBS commentator why his team had lost on the day.


    great read roy go georgies

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