Another Gorilla Missed

The Bulldogs need more gorillas. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Our last gorilla, Brian Lake, left to be part of premiership glory. Not sure if he lived in the Western Suburbs but if he did, I hope the trek out to Waverley every night is worth it.

So the Bulldogs decide to stick with the skinny kids such as Roughead to take on key position spots such as fullback. Huh! I think it was recruiting officer Jason McCartney who said “We tried him there against West Coast earlier in the year and he did a really good job”. I hope Jordan proves me wrong as just an armchair expert, I really do, but I don’t think so.

The latest gorilla to be missed is Chris Dawes who has opted to go to Melbourne. How hard did the Bulldogs chase him if he opted for Melbourne? He wouldn’t be looking for premiership glory there. Maybe someone else who didn’t want to cross the Mariyrinong for whatever reason.

The other gorilla in the missed list was Quentin Lynch. Not one cheeky sport’s journalist even bothered to suggest the Big Q would be ideal for the Bulldogs.

The one large Silver-Back we managed to net a couple of years ago was Barry Hall. His mere presence on the forward line took the pressure of the under-sized Bulldogs around him, and he kicked goals, and we were in a couple of prelim finals as a result.

It all sounds nice about building a team for the future from ‘within’ as Brendon McCartney keeps reminding everyone, obviously thinking of how Geelong went about it. But surely the odd gorilla that doesn’t mind a new habitat under the palm trees at Whitten Oval (are they still there?) would help the young players coming through. And hopefully snag a few more wins in the meantime to keep the supporters happy.

About Neil Anderson

Enjoys reading and writing about the Western Bulldogs. Instead of wondering if the second premiership will ever happen, he can now bask in the glory of the 2016 win.


  1. Good thoughts Neil. I’m thinking your problem is the horizontal stripes. The burly gorillas like Lynch and Dawes look far more svelte in the vertical like the Pies, or the plain block colours like Melbourne, Sydney or the Eagles.
    I know that as my waistline expands into middle age, the Avenging Eagle has consigned all my rugby tops to the Salvo bin. Apparently I looked quite good in them – 10 years ago.
    I feel your design department is letting the recruiting department down. Horizontal stripes are good for the barrel chested Teddy Whitten types, but not the barrel bellied gorillas you are after.
    I think the Dockers rejuvenation was more due to getting rid of the green and red in their jumpers than hiring Vlad the Impaler as coach.
    Maybe you and Gigs and Crio can offer design suggestions to the club?

  2. N eil Anderson says

    Thanks Peter B for the fashion tips. I must admit I wasn’t thinking about such things as vertical stripes being more slimming etc when I was pining for a gorilla to climb the goal-posts at Whitten Oval and swat the opposition. I did think you were very brave to refer to your wife as the ‘Avenging Eagle’. I have referred before to my wife as the ‘temptress’. Nothing to do with the bedroom but more to do with trying to wean me away from football during the season with tickets to a must-see-show or something arty. Over forty years married and she still doesn’t get it. She sees the Bulldogs struggling and she strikes with her evil plan!
    Not sure about the best outfits to flush out the gorillas so they’ll make a new home in the western suburbs of Melbourne. I was thinking of maybe a cheeky little faux-denim number with bikie insignias…and perhaps some hipster shorts with trendy rips…a sort of don’t mess with me look…if you know what I mean.
    I liked your description of Vlad The Impaler at Freo. Unfortunately our guy in charge at the moment is known as Brendon The Meek. You wonder why I want more gorillas around the place!

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    When the club goes back to calling itself FOOTSCRAY, I will buy a membership.

    Brendan McCartney gets rave reviews from everyone, have some patience. Would you prefer he just bought a gorilla and papered over the cracks?

  4. N eil Anderson says

    Whether the Club’s should be called Footscray or not is a side-issue. Not buying a membership because you don’t like the name is an issue. If you really want the Club to survive you buy a membership even after another shitty year on-field and no matter how much we criticise recruiting etc., which is usually done in jest anyway.
    No, I don’t want a lot of papering over cracks. I was suggesting in a light-hearted way that that one gorilla on the list might help the young recruits as Brendan develops his team from ‘within’.
    Not sure whether you were waiting for a bite by telling me to have some patience.
    If you have read anything I have written about being a Bulldog supporter since the 1950’s you would know I have been the very epitome of patience as people of my generation have had to be. But after 58 years of waiting for success, you can’t blame us for losing it now and again.

  5. Will Minson too articulate to be deemed a gorilla ?


  6. N eil Anderson says

    Yeah, when you think of gorillas you don’t immediately think of the multi-lingual, musical instrument playing, still- studying type of recruit. You would be looking more for the chucking their own faeces at the opposition type of guy.
    ‘Big’ Will always seems not so big anyway when you see him up against the Dean Cox’s and dare I say it, the Chris Dawes and the Quenten Lynch’s. So a gorilla ruckman to work with Will would be handy. Who else is there? Tom Campbell maybe?

  7. Richard Naco says

    Neil, Neil, Neil: never ever forget that “From skinny kids big kids grow”!

    (Except Cameron Ling, who started off not all that skinny but became a True Geelong Legend only after downsizing.)

  8. N eil Anderson says

    You’re not wrong about from skinny things…big things grow…
    You must have peeked into my family album. And I mean real skinny to not exactly muscle and six-packs. Maybe I’ve got some sort of gorilla envy complex…all that muscle…that hairy chest…mmmm.
    More likely I’ve turned into an impatient grumpy old man. Call me if you ever experience a fifty-eight year wait for your next premiership and we can compare notes. See, I must be grumpy if I’m starting to talk like that.

  9. Nice article Neil and I agree that Dawes was a bad miss, but Q-bomb is not in the right age bracket for the dogs. He is 29 so he has 2-3 years of footy left, and we will still be a bottom 4-6 club during that time, with or without Lynch. He would just stunt the development of a KP player and not be around by the time we are actually back in contention again.

    Dawes would have been perfect because he would have taken the burden off you young forwards over the next 2-3 years while we are down the bottom, but still be at his peak in 3-5 years when our list is at the right age to compete seriously.

  10. N eil Anderson says

    Thanks Liam. A voice of reason and a Scragger to boot. Wow! Now I don’t have to justify my opinion using silly puns about gorillas any more. I’m free!
    Yes, I was thinking of Dawes as ‘the’ prospect at age 24 rather than Lynch. I mentioned Lynch because of his size, and one of the many gorillas (sorry) that overpowered us when we played against them. You can have the Boyds and the Cross’s work their guts out to be competitive every match and by the final quarter Lynch, Cox or some other giant just stands there to save the day, either by defending a goal or by marking and kicking the winning goal.
    Another good example of a warrior over the years but undersized was Ryan Hargreave. Another guy that gives his all for the team but gets swamped by the big guys at crunch time.
    I first started noticing the Bulldogs were undersized when the coach decided to play Leon Cameron on Wayne Carey. Leon was at his peak as an ‘outside’ runner (don’t you just love the modern terminology) and Carey was, well, Carey and he just monstered poor old Leon.
    And finally before I get off my band-wagon, we badly need a tall and hopefully big ruckman to help out Will Minson.

  11. Barkly St End says

    heh, heh, I remember the day Leon played on the Duck – and even Leon has had a chuckle over that one over the years.

    Then there was the 98 prelim when Rohan Smith stood a big burly Adelaide forward at CHB, geez, what was his name again? He had never done anything before that game, never did anything after that game – but he made the most of his luck that day playing on a wingman six inches shorter than him, pulled a dozen clean, one grab marks, he looked like a champion.

    If opposition clubs were as kind to us, we’d have a situation where our skinny kids like Jones and Grant could pull down plenty of marks as well.

  12. Matthew Robran got 6 that day Mr Barkly. Handy footballer. His father Barrie was the best SA footballer I ever saw (including Blight).

  13. N eil Anderson says

    Thanks for the comment Mr. Barkly. Love hearing that name again 250 ks from Dogland.
    I thought my Gorilla stories had disappeared into the mist…pun intended.
    Good to know my memory isn’t shot completely re who played on who etc.
    Will have to return to therapy however now the 97 and 98 PMs are mentioned.
    I’ve been to a few finals in the 90’s including the Billy Brownless after the siren winning goal. The one that can be seen repeatedly on any channel 9 footy show on a TV near you. But the one that drove me into therapy and had me mumbling about it years later to anyone that would listen, was Adelaide’s win in 97.
    I managed a last minute ticket to the game which happened to be right behind Crow supporters. Happy but tense for three quarters and shot to pieces in the last.
    I’m still worried about who our key position players will be for 2013 and will wait for the main draft before I react. But am I right to be worried if they get rid of a Sherman-type player, a dead-set failure and then look for a couple of similar size fringe-players as replacements?
    Am I being to too judgemental that they are looking at Prismall (sic ) with his couple of recos and who didn’t play much with Essendon because of hamstring problems?
    Recruiting justification: He’s a quality fellow in the right age bracket and McCartney knew him at Geelong and Essendon. Anyway, it’s lockdown time so I better go so I won’t miss out on my privilages.

  14. Barkly St End says

    Peter B

    Most of us know about Barrie, no probs on that Robs.

    Re the 98 prelim – did the younger Robran ever score six goals in another game? (reminds me of Ellis getting five in the grannie the year before).

    Let’s be honest, the fact that a barely 6ft winger lined up on him at CHB that day ensured that he was going to have a day out – which gets us back to the subject today – that the doggies have had a shortage of big men since time immemorial (and no doubt that is a factor in our lack of success over the decades).

    We have had good big men along the way, with a few winning Brownlows, but we never manage to have a critical mass of them in the one team in any one season.

    We always seem to have spare parts players plugging key positions at either end of the ground (like Leon standing the Duck, or Smith standing Robran), or Lake would be moved from full back to full forward because we’re short a big target, or we rely on Dale Morris to pick up the 2nd tall (and the following week the resting rover), or some 6ft 1 bloke has to be the second ruck, etc, etc.

  15. Barkly St End says

    technically speaking, I didn’t bring up the 97 prelim!

    I too was there (weren’t we all), and I’m sure our collective memories of that day, and our reactions afterwards, are identical.

    It’s as if the history of the club was encapsulated in 10 minutes of madness.

    Most of us continue to receive therapy for that one.

    By the way, forgot to mention first time – agree with everything you wrote!

  16. Barkly St End says

    Speaking of the 98 prelim (oh god, why did someone raise that), I’ve just remembered a tragicomic story.

    I was living interstate at the time, so I’m at the airport waiting for my flight, feeling incredulous (and angry) about what had just happened.

    Who wanders into the waiting lounge – it’s Alexander Downer, with his Costello-like smirk, Adelaide establishment accent and hollow condolences (recognising me as a doggies supporter).

    Never in my life have I had such an urge to commit a violent act against a fellow human being as I experienced at that precise moment.

  17. N eil Anderson says

    So pleased I’ve flushed out another Scray supporter. The fact we’re in furious agreement is a bonus. How far back does the agony of being a Doggy supporter stretch for you?
    So far the comments have been mainly about me being impatient and I should wait til the draft with all those early picks, but even if they pick up some of the best ,hopefully big, talent in Australia, it will still be years to develop them. Your point about never having a critical mass of the biggen’s was spot on.
    It makes you wonder if supporters from other clubs are just happy to see us height-challenged and wallowing at the bottom of the ladder or simply can’t understand what we’re on about. And yes I know you didn’t exactly mention the 97 Prelim. It’s just that I see the word Crows and prelims…and it just sets me off. I’ve even tried aversion therapy as in The Clockwork Orange but the 97 trauma was still too much. Even the pictures they showed me of Libba clearly kicking a goal didn’t work.
    As far as seeing Downer in 98, my mind would have said kill!…kill! but my body would have been just a burnt-out husk, particularly after 97 and 98. So I would have been lucky to get in just a girlie-punch. Like your thinking though.

  18. Barkly St End says

    Hi Neil
    the first game I saw as a kid was Footscray vs Essendon, 1973, Western Oval.

    We had the wind in the first quarter and led 3.8 to 1.2, after which the bombers took control and gave us a bit of a hiding. Our half time score was 3.12.

    That was the game when Don McKenzie kicked Barry Round and broke his leg.

    Speaking of a lack of big men, it did not help that we were so willing to part with Barry Round and Bernie Quinlan in the space of a couple of years.

    Having said that, we had quite a good year in 1974, making the finals for the first time in 13 years, off the back of the efforts of blokes like Demps, Fish, Welsh and Quinlan.

    We had only just recruited this rover from SA, Twinkle Toes Huppatz, and reversed our big home loss to Essendon that previous year.

    Now, if I’m not mistaken, we may have just recruited a 17 year old kid from Traralgon that year, who would go on to win the goal kicking in future years and a Brownlow to boot.

    Maybe we’re imagining this lack of big men after all??? :(

  19. N eil Anderson says

    Hi Barkly…Mr. End, what do you liked to be called?
    Great memories of the seventies, especially how the matches were determined by who had the wind in the last quarter. God I miss that home ground which was a fortress for us most of the time. How lucky is a team like Geelong and Sydney to still have a home ground.
    I’m going to start showing my age now but a couple of matches at the Western/Whitten Oval do come to mind…probably before you were born.
    Teddy’s last match which you often see on replays with the …’You’ve got to inspire me’ speech. Loved the shots of the players in their dressing-gowns sucking on the oranges at three-quarter time like we did at school matches. By the way I started at Footscray Nth Primary on my Bulldog journey.
    The other match was the last at Whitten Oval against the Eagles. There was rain and sleet and snow but beautiful for Doggy fans because we beat the bastards.
    The only big man in your list that would qualify for gorilla status is Barry Round. Bean-poles like Dempsey need not apply nor would the svelt superboot could ever be classed as a gorilla. Also we needed at least three running around at the same time…the critical mass. Which reminds me, are any Doggy supporters wondering who is going to help Minson out in the ruck…or is it just me?

  20. Mr Street-End.

    We had so many talls in 1974 that we went out and recruited another picking up Greg Parke from the Dees. He provided another target up forward kicking 35 goals. Spider Welsh had his best year (74) as a forward notching 44 majors. Did his knee early ’75 (the week after the Sachse accident) and was never the same.

    Captain Sandilands had a pretty good year with a half ton of goals. This allowed Bob Rose the luxury of playing Bernie Quinlan at CHB who was starring prior to breaking a finger at the mid way point of the season.

    Templeton and Huppatz debuted on the same day in ’74 – Rd 3 v the Pies at VP. KT kicked a half a dozen, we still lost.

    Wouldn’t mind any, or all, of those blokes on the list now. Sadly, even in their early 60’s, most of them would still get a game.


  21. N eil Anderson says

    I thought I had a good memory for recalling Bulldog matches over the years, but you and Mr. Streetend make me feel like the senile dementia has well and truely arrived Mic. I checked your Bio in the Almanac and I see you have been traumatised like the rest of us. To see David Thorpe leave the Doggies must have been a critical turning point in your life. No supporters have suffered so much for so long as the Bulldog supporters. Richmond people dispute this claim but can only claim a thirty -year wait for success. Bulldog supporters do hard time while others suck up to the warden and get a job in the prison library.
    Your last comment summed it up as we look to next season. Some of the players from the 1970’s now in their sixties could probably get a game in the present lineup.

  22. Barkly St End says

    Hi Mic and Neil
    You can call me Barkly.

    Isn’t it great remembering some of these games and players from the Western Oval days?

    It’s strange, but there are scorelines from the mid 70s that I can remember, and who kicked goals when, but there are other more recent years where I can’t even remember which game I went to.

    Neil – would you believe that I am an alumni of Footscray North Primary school as well?
    I still remember the other 6 or 7 local schools we used to play at in sports – we were a bloody good school when it came to sport, a fine record – in fact, it was a bloody good school full stop, I have nothing but great memories of it (although I did get the cuts on at least two occasions, which were very, very painful). I think our headmaster was Mr Carey.

    The big factory across the road at the back of the school (so very Footscray), the big bit of empty industrial land along side the oval (which was only 100m long), the incinerator, the shelter sheds, the caretakers house was actually on the school grounds.
    In my years there (in the 70s), the caretaker’s name was Mr Wilson, he was a Footscray man through and through, had gone to the 1954 grand final, and one day brought in the newspaper clippings from that time, and it was amazing for me to see evidence of Footscray having won a grand final! It was almost other worldly.

    Our schoolyard had this big gutter running down the middle of it, separating the turfed oval where we played cricket and footy from the sandy non-turfed playing area (although I use the word turf loosely). A great past time (when we weren’t playing footy or cricket) was to play what we called gutter ball. The gutter had a 45 degree slant either side of it, and you’d play against another kid who would stand over the other side of the gutter, throwing the ball at the gutter from say 5 metres, catching it 10 times, then you go back 5 metres, etc, etc – passed away many a lunchtime playing that game!

    We all used to get our hair cut at a local barber, near the corner of Rosamond rd and Ballarat Rd – but I’ve forgotten his name now – he was there for decades.

    Mic – I actually remember Templeton’s debut game, the one you mention, when he bagged six. What a debut, he was still only 17 years old, and you knew you had seen a future champ. He remains my favourite Footscray player to this day. It was a close game, that game against the pies, but they had the wind in the last quarter and over ran us (as they often did). Templeton actually kicked his six goals in the first 3 quarters. We had a slender lead at 3/4 time, and early in the last he took a mark in the pocket (at the Barkly St End!), a difficult shot with the wind likely to take the ball away from goal. And like any true 17 year old, what do you reckon he did? He went the torp! A beautiful looking torp off the boot, lovely looking barrell, was about to pierce the centre of the goals, before a gust took it 20 metres away from goal!

    Ah, great memories chaps, could talk all day about the dogs – but in truth, it’s every bit as painful as it is enjoyable.

  23. Neil – Thorpie was my first “hero”, my first jumper had the number 16 on the back. Sad to see him leave. I think his transfer to Punt Rd was tied up with the Geoff Raines for Neil Sachse transaction- the Tigers owned Sachse’s Form Four. Marty McMillan was the other player involved in the deal. I was rapt to see David bob up at Port Melbourne in ’79 (first year I followed the Borough). Was burning in a game at Geelong West’s Western Oval (how appropriate) in July but did his knee and that ended his playing career at North Port.

    BSE – Max Pilkington was the chap who owned the barber shop on the corner of Rosamond and Ballarat Rds. KT and Doug are the two best Footscray players I’ve seen over the last 40 years.


  24. N eil Anderson says

    Mic I know the importance of that first number on your back. I was lucky I started with number 3 in an era of permanence. I may not remember matches as well as you guys but I can remember waking up on birthday No.7 and looking in the half-light to see my first Bulldog jumper at the end of the bed. Worried at first that the parents had got me a grey, red and white one by mistake because of the light playing tricks on me.
    That’s the only number I’ve ever worn and proudly showed it off as the only young Bulldog supporter when we crossed town to live in the Eastern suburbs. I do remember David Thorpe fairly well as perhaps one of those classy players that stood out amongst the other battling Bulldogs, so I can understand your attachment to No.16.
    Barkly, I was at Footscray Nth. PS probably twenty years before you but not quite in the horse and buggy days. I remember the tip, aka after-school playground, on the eastern side of the school. The main largest playground to the north was gravel and no grass. There was a Special School annex as part of the school complex before the big new one was built across the road. We were never taught how to integrate with the ‘special’ kids and maybe even young adults so they would congregate by themselves in a corner of the yard and we would keep our distance.
    I haven’t got great memories of that school and others because I always seemed to find learning a struggle. I was even more lost when I shifted to the Burwood area. So I was a late starter with education etc and didn’t follow the usual path from school to uni, marriage and buying a house etc, but I caught up later and now I’m in a pretty good space as they say.
    I’m enjoying the footy talk from you and Mic and I hope I haven’t crapped on to much with the personal stuff.

  25. Barkly St End says

    by the way – George Bisset and Dennis Collins both went to Footscray Nth.

    Yes – you’re right – his name was Max, we used to call the barber shop – Max’s. Even as a kid and young man, he was great for a yarn.

  26. N eil Anderson says

    Barkly, thanks for the info about Wee Georgie Bisset being an old Footscray Nth boy. I had no idea as I watched him running around all those years ago.
    By the way, that big factory north of the school was the Olympic Tyre Factory, at least in my day. We used to suck in those fumes on the way home and if ever I came back for a visit to the area years later, I knew I was home again as soon as I got a whiff of new a new batch of Olympic radials being cooked.
    We lived in Monash Street that lead to the Commonwealth Ammo Factory which I’m guessing might now be the new Bulldogs gambling den. Can you confirm?

  27. Barkly St End says

    Hi Neil
    it was still the Olympic Tyre factory when I went to school – that whole area was absolutely choc block full of factories. There was the ammo factory (I too lived near it), Metters, Repco, Kinnear ropes, and many, many more large and small – we are talking quintessential industrial Footscray here.

    Over the past 25 years, bit by bit, each parcel of industrial land has been sold off for housing, and now, you’d be hard pressed to find one single fully functioning factory in the neighbourhood.

    The gentrification of Footscray has been a long, long time coming – but it has finally arrived. It’s unbelievable just how close this part of town is to the city, and despite all the nearby factories, all those streets from Monash st to River st, where the high school is, was always a pretty good neighbourhood (from what I can remember).

    Yes, I know Monash St quite well, I too lived on one of the streets coming off Gordon st, closer to Maribyrnong High.

    Virtually all of the old ammo factory has been sold off for housing.

    A beautiful piece of land too, with fantastic views over the Maribyrnong River to Flemington and the CBD.

    Where MOnash meets Gordon st, immediately across the road there’s an Aldis, plus some eateries, using old office buildings. All around them are new residences, and immediately behind the Aldis, I believe, is WB’s new clubhouse/hotel establishment.

    Not sure if they have started building it, but I hope it takes off – goodness knows we need some luck.

  28. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks for the walk down memory- lane Barkly. Those shops and the Bulldog den at the end of Monash Street would have been handy in the old days. Our milkbar/shop with everything, including papers such as the Sporting Globe was around the corner in Mitchel St I think it was. That’s where I bought my comics and that’s how I learnt to read and possibly first developed my imagination that came in handy years later when writing plays and short-stories. So all good memories for me where I had a few years of almost ‘Leave It To Beaver’ lifestyle.
    I’m conscious that we’ve strayed from our original Gorilla Missed comments to life in old Footscray so I hope it fits within the Almanac constitution. I don’t want to get a memo from Headhaster JTHarms requesting that I see him in his office about veering away from sports writing. On the other hand he should be happy that we are still writing from the heart. All good fun.

  29. Barkly St End says


    The Milk Bar on Mitchell St (cnr of Rowe St) is still functioning. I visited my parents on the weekend and went for a stroll to get the paper.

    You might also recall downhill from the milk bar, towards the ammo factory, the Tates used to run a Dairy, and deliver the milk. For decades (right up to around the late 1970s), they delivered the milk by old fashioned means, with horse and cart.

    Early morning, if you lived in the neighbourhood, you’d hear the first tram going down Gordon St at around 5:10am, and within a minute, you’d hear the clip clop of the horse doing the rounds.

  30. Neil Anderson says

    Barkly, this look around old Footscray is a great tonic while we wait for our beloved Doggies to play again. Speaking of which I hated the idea of Port Adelaide winning by a point over in London on the weekend. I know it was an exhibition match and all that…but I just hate losing anytime.
    Anyway back to old Footscray town. I was rapt to know that the milkbar was still functioning. I probably called in there about 25 years ago and bought something for old-time’s sake. I remember the dairy very well and surprized it still functioned into the seventies. We used to buy flavoured ice-blocks in a cone there as a big treat.
    As far as the Gordon Street tram is concerned, I’m transported back as an eight-year old heading for the ‘flicks’ indowntown Footscray. The start of my love of films but not theatre. Live theatre was virtually unheard of even for us middle-class types.
    A quick story of trauma for me at the pictures. Arrived at one of the two main theatres in Footscray and sat back ready to watch my cowboy- hero Hopalong
    Cassidy at a Saturday matinee. Much to my horror up comes Carousel! A drippy, boring musical, especially for a nine-year old, with not a six-gun or horse in sight.
    Even tough young Footscray kids cry sometime so I realized. The paper had listed the wrong film at the wrong theatre!
    The other theatre I remember was The Roxy near the school. They used to take us there to appease us after we’d all lined up for polio injections. Geez I’m old!
    Barkly, you’ve rekindled memories of pretty good times for me, even checking out the old milkbar etc. So much so that I will definitely turn left down Gordon Street next time I travel to Melbourne from the western district and check out the old neighbourhood. Thanks again.

  31. Barkly St End says

    no worries – it’s a long, long off-season isn’t it? That’s why Harmsy shouldn’t begrudge us our reminisces, and in some way, even non-footy reminisces fit within the overall objective of this site, afterall, one of common themes emerging on and off is how club and community have slowly been separated at the elite levels of the game.

    In our day, living down the road from a bona fide VFL ground was a very important part of our identy, perhaps the most important part.

    I should add, by the time I was 9 or 10 and old enough to go to the cinema, only the Grand survived, in the centre of town, not far from where the 82 Tram terminated.

    Nearby, the Italians had La Scala, with it’s little European style newspaper vendor out the front, and little coffee shop to the side selling expressos and Italian pastries – very, very cosmopolitan for early 70s Footscray! (it would become even more cosmopolitan over the ensuing decades)

  32. Neil Anderson says

    Yeah, you’re right Barkly. Harmsy should be proud of us keeping the conversation going over the long, long, break.
    We might even get highly commended for our indepth study of the old football community constantly under seige from sivertails and others, and how we are still hanging in there decades later.
    It reminds me of articles that John himself used to write for the Age, particuarly that series he did on the oldest supporters and players from various Clubs. Hang on, I think I can hear him knocking on my door…
    And don’t forget, most of our writing is in line with the Almanac credo…’Write from the heart’.
    Back to Footscray. I was trying to remember the names of the two picture-theatres and thought of the Grand but not sure about the other one. Was it your namesake… Barkly?
    During another long off-season in 2004/05 I was lucky enough that a friend said I should try writing one-act plays as an alternative to sending off comedy sketches and getting knockbacks from TV stations, because they only use ‘their’ writers. Since that time I have been writing plays and entering competitions with some success which means I have seen six of my plays performed as a finalist. So it’s been the perfect off-season activity for me at least.
    And then I met John Harms on his tour of the western-district as part of the Year of Reading, and he also was flogging the Almanac of course. So I discovered the other great on and off-season pastime…contributing to the Almanac.
    I never thought I would be interested in a Facebooky type of thing. I couldn’t imagine myself talking about a lot of personal and trivial stuff. But obviously with football it’s different. That one constant in my life that, as you can see, I don’t mind having a yak about.
    I just thought of a good name for a TV show just for Bulldog supportes. ‘In Gordon Street Tonight’…or has that been done before?

  33. Barkly St End says

    that second cinema was certainly on Barkly St, up towards The Mail newspaper office. It didn’t operate as a cinema in my memory, but I know the site because my mum told me it used to be a cinema (she had lived in Footscray since 1960), and I can recall the site as being the Fiesta Ballroom (or something similar), before becoming a Bingo hall when that was first legalised in Victoria.

    Anyway, you inspired me to do a bit of googling, and I stumbled across this Wikipedia article on the famous Sun cinema in Yarraville:

    By the way, they mention that the modern cinema has screens named after other old cinemas from the area, and they refer to:
    The Grand, named after the last cinema in Yarraville, is the Sun’s largest cinema.[8] (not sure if this is an error on their part)

    The Barkly, named after once famous Footscray cinema, is based on the dress circle of the original Sun.[9]

    The Trocadero, named after the long-closed cinema in Footscray, features parts of the original plaster of the Sun.[10]

    The Lyric, named after the second cinema in Yarraville, originally intended to be the private screening room, now features 33 chairs and 7 lounge chairs with coffee tables

    So I would suggest to you that you are probably right about The Barkly – it’s unlikely that there would have been two cinemas on Barkly St – but what was the Trocadero?

    Now here’s another puzzle for you.

    Around the corner from Footscray Nth primary school, on the corner with Ballarat Rd, there were a series of shops. Right on the corner was a fish and chip shop that operated for years and years, next to that was a sort of bric-a-brac type of shop of various guises, and after that was an old building that was closed up when I was a kid at school, and it has remained closed up to this day.

    If you cross to the other side of Ballarat Rd, you can read up high the old name of the former establishment, something like The Lonesome Road Folk Lounge, or something similar.

    Anyway, as I say, it has been closed up, untouched, for over 40 years.

    In 1973, a school mate told me that his older sister had told him that the school used to have end of year school functions there – not sure if this rings a bell with you or not.

    My guess is that it may have started up around the early to mid 1960s during the folk boom that was experienced here and in the US, but that’s just a guess.

    Do you have any recollection of this place?

    ps your career change to Playwright interests me tremendously, perhaps one day you can send me a link to your work or something. It’s appropriate that you have found your way to Harmsy’s site. It’s the best of it’s type I have ever come across.

  34. Barkly St End says

    this is actually the Sun Theatre site:

    Having looked through it, I now certain that wikipedia should have referred to the Grand in Footscray rather than the Grand in Yarraville.

    Coincidentally, they have named one of their cinemas after La Scala, which is the old Italian cinema I refer to above.

    It looks like they have done a remarkable job restoring this old theatre.

  35. Neil Anderson says

    I did wonder if your parents were around roughly the time I was there. Unfortunately I left Monash St in 1956…so missed it by that much.
    I can’t help you with the shops around the corner from the school and I only remember going on an ‘excursion’ to the shops as a school project to meet the butcher, the fruiterer etc and write about what they did.
    Speaking of excursions, the other classic for us third-graders, apart from Kinnears, was a trip to the abattoirs. I’d say a few kids were scarred by that one and it probably started a generation of vegetarians.
    The place you mentioned was probably an old folky hangout. Folk and then Jazz was big from 1962 and I was well and truely on the other side of town going through the start of my teenage angst…surrounded by Melbourne supporters and feeling very much out of place.
    I must get to the Sun theatre sometime. I seem to remember another Footscray resident and Doggy supporter William McGuiness and his wife had the premiere of their film ‘Look Both Ways’ at the Sun. The only similar theatre in the east is the Rivolli, which incidently became my Grand and Barkly when I shifted.
    As far as the play-writing, it really suits me as a hobby. I live in a small country town and writing is the ideal hobby when you are a bit isolated. And if you’re lucky enough to be a finalist in the competitions, you get a reason to travel to see your work performed. I’ve had trips to Queensland in the last couple of years.
    I’m starting to rave on a bit so I’ll tell you about the latest play I’ve started at another time. I’m always glad if anyone shows interest in play-writing believe me.

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