Barry Dickins on Docklands Stadium


It is a most grim truth that Docklands Stadium has no moral right to exist.

It is the opposite of a fair go. It goes against every single thing that’s correct and right.

It is architecturally the equal of Auschwitz and even the lavatories are uglier than sin.

People go there out of mesmerising clinical depression and high anxiety in the mistaken belief it is fun. It was not ever designed for fun. It was designed to break every single heart who has to sell the farm to get in.


It is not worth getting in because of the pathological gloom of staff who deny children who look fifty but are sixteen the opportunity of a half-price seat inside its awfulness, its mint-new bile, its crummy mood, its stink of corporate witchcraft and its love of privileges.


The bitches who deny nice kids of sixteen a half-price chair at the place are the paramours of Satan, they long for Evil just as you who pause to read this essay pause to pour yourself a decent cup of tea.

There is only hurt inside Etihad, hurt which paralyses Hope.

It is mostly the fault of ticket-sellers whose parents voted for Stalin in Eaglemont, falsely believing Eaglemont was Soviet Russia.

Just the look of those screwed-up old girls so mean in the way they glare at newborn babies as if newborn babies in their right mind would wish to go into Docklands anyway.


Docklands was conceived in a fornication bed called Greed. It is unconcerned with the lumpen proletariat who can scarcely afford a cheap football from K Mart; it is unconcerned with the sad fact that every single Richmond supporter has developed Alzheimers because of the almighty pressure on the brain where you must wait fifty years for a Grand Final Flag.


There was no consultation with me before it got the Richard Pratt.

Even though he is deceased he still turns up at Docklands hoping to have a pot with Ron Barrassi.

But Ron Barrassi doesn’t go there because he doesn’t know where it is. No one does.


You walk down Lonsdale Street in a determined sort of way.

You ask a person if you are getting near Docklands and they personally abuse you; so you know it’s not that far. Even Indians know where it is so you follow one of them by foot or taxi.


When you come upon it there are one hundred thousand rich bastards hanging around smoking and sucking on a Corona with a slim wedge of lemon rammed in it.

The rich don’t know what to do, they never know what to do unless they are upgrading a BMW coupe or insulting each other in air-conditioned boardrooms where they fantasise on Gina Rhineheart.


The contemporary football father never degrades his importance by having a kick of the ball with his Alzheimer toddlers or stooping to talking to any of them once they make it to an upper balcony, in the conservative and cosy company of morons just like him.

The lonely infants of the wealthy love to be ignored by their uneducated fathers who all went to Trinity and took silk and whatever other luxurious commodities they saw all around them.

One hundred thousand stinking filthy businessmen biting a fifteen buck Four ‘N Twenty simultaneously as the sexually challenged girl umpires stroll on for the first bounce of a ball made of helium.


Lots of sexually challenged boundary umpires strut ever forward, some with breasts, others who work in agriculture in some interesting cross-bred way. Most of them come from Mildura, deliberately, and rent near Docklands to be closer to the game. All of them are a bit frisky for some reason.


It is Richmond against The Bailieau Government which astute critics of the game assure us will be a bloodbath, with the likelihood of human death guaranteed. The coach of The Bailieau Government side is The Minister For Urban Renewal who used to coach Swan Hill before his missus left him.


Richmond this year boasts an all-Indian line-up with enormous Indian rovers the size of Nauru House and little cute mid fielders with a stunning sex drive, indeed when the ball goes out of bounce their frustration is so heightened they mount a pie boy.


As you gaze upwards you can just make out jaded football commentators, all drunk, chatting away into thermos flasks in the belief they are recording devices in some way; and you can just see television commentators all raving away at the one topic and that is how far the football went that time. Did it go for sixty metres or a hundred metres? That is their sole knowledge apart from knowing Bobby Skilton has a twin brother.


The humidity gets to fans here in a strange sort of a way, it makes them even less intelligent.

The foul air creates fantastic staleness and incredible amounts of chronic indigestion and boredom start to come to life, quite like a cancer cell or a contemporary doughnut.


It doesn’t ever matter one single iota what happens upon the intricately dead carpeted grass which is sewn by fools. Nothing of life can occur. Nothing of even a solitary bounce is possible since the ball declines to come up off it no matter how violently you hammer at it.


The crowd are bored stupid in the first second and there is talk of hanging a beer vendor out of indolence, out of more boredom a rope noose is made out of false grass someone found and it is just a question of organising a gallows at half-time.


The level of advertising-noise is enough to create ear canal harm that is permanent; just listening to the ads creates lunacy in the hearer straight away, with a barrage of reminders to come to Docklands Stadium next time you happen to be in from Europe or Keon Park.

You by now have no concern about who is playing who. Your ears fall right off.


A big fat guy behind you who is over fifty stone is screaming hoarse obscenities towards his own father, who is dead because he choked on a styrene foam hamburger. No one cares about anything, least of all skill or history or balance or beauty or ball sense. It just goes on forever like Hell does, except Hell is interesting.


Hell has exits and entrances, it has stories and you can hire a punt on the river Styx and check out all sorts of monsters and mad wolverines and you can bet the pies are hotter there, as opposed to Docklands where the food tastes like the end of the universe and costs more than a two bedroom in Toorak Road, which is now uglier than Docklands, if that’s possible.



Here come a few Baillieau Government players now, tearing up contracts along the wing, all swearing and screaming because they realise the jig is up and the Greens will romp it in next vote in Melbourne because they are gloomier than the Baillieau Government and gloom these days is a very attractive alternative to Labor who are too serious to be depressing.


Half time now at Etihad and Christine Milne is doing a full strip in the middle of the oval, with lots of disbelief from the crowd, particularly her party The Greens, but as she pointed out this morning on her regular segment on ‘Drop ‘Em!’ on The Jon Faine Program, you need to show voters what you got or else risk years in political obscurity. She didn’t get a single clap.


Somehow the end comes and the deafening advertisements come on over and over again as the final siren sounds like an apocalypse to the damaged ear canals of the fans cashed up enough to witness the end of not just football, but everything.

Ads for bras and nudity and holidays at Venus Bay for cheating married couples.


Hundreds of cleaners sulk on and make a mess by throwing stubbies at other stubbies all over the false grass. One woman, a diehard Richmond supporter got up and criticized Docklands for its unbelievable airlessness and she was shot, drawn and quartered by The Baillieau Government right in the centre of the ground but no one cared.


The masses skulk out and meet Bob Dylan coming in; he’s next after the match in fact but he just says ‘Go Richmond!’, which his minders don’t follow, and wanders down into the bowels of the stadium looking for his ten foot mouth-organ and his talent.


In a perfect surreal dream of fairness this stadium of sorrow was pulled down and rain arrived and love came and justice turned up at last and the sun wasn’t desultory, and marsh birds bore their young and nests were spun by other identifiable birds just like emu wrens, and it was boats again and apartments were got rid of and it was called Nice and not Docklands.


Aboriginals came back and bore their young, having got the idea from emu wrens, it was bush again and no corporate raiders were permitted in, and kids played in what used to be Spencer Street but was now jade-green lush long grass and scones were knitted by the illiterate and jam was made by The Wesleyan Church even though it was rotten.


Hundreds of thousands of trucks just hauled Docklands away and chucked it all in Clayton Land Fill, the home of dreams and visions at five dollars a tonne.

Morons who made it now confessed what a travesty it was and admitted not even a heron ever wanted to do a torp there.



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  1. Peter Zitterschlager says

    Docklands may be a soulless concrete abomination, but shit, it’s way better than what we Bulldogs had. Indeed, when I think of how many times I almost suffered from hypothermia in our pre-Dockland days, I grow more and more appreciative of its creature comforts. The trick with Docklands is to stand not sit. Me and my crew have found that the standing areas capture the edgy primal feel of the old western oval terraces. I’m sure I can speak for all of them when I say we are more than happy at Docklands and sure as hell don’t miss those cruel sou-easters that used to sweep in each winter. In short, agree the place could do with some soul, but it’s a shitload better than the old suburban grounds (but granted, aesthetically inferior to them.)

  2. Barkly St End says

    I too have fond memories of the Western Oval. Walking to the footy from the other end of Gordon St, past the ammunition factory, the heavily littered and crumbling flats, ghettoes for the most recent arrivals, the housing commission high rise, defaced empty warehouses, shuttered up factories that closed down years earlier, the unemployed, homeless drug addicts continuing to live in the dark recesses of abandoned buildings.

    It was appropriate that you would reach the Western Oval after walking past Footscray’s decayed industrial past – a befitting testament.

    A reminder why we are all thankful that we now have docklands to watch the footy.

    There is no going back.

    As the Italian futurist, Filippo Marinetti, once said: Each generation must build its own city.

  3. “Most of them come from Mildura, deliberately……”,


  4. PeterSchumacher says

    But the surface used to be crud however no one was supposed to allude to this, particularly the players. Don’t know if it is at an acceptable standard yet.

  5. Never understood how you can play a winter game on an artifical surface, under a closed roof. That’s why i don’t go the AFL any more, a game which is now to be savoured in front of the TV!


  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Grey, soulless, dank, dark, shadowy, isolated; even the siren is hollow; next stop after hell on a wet Sunday night when most North games are played – all part of the conspiracy; $4 for a pie, $9 for something that won’t kill you early; can’t see the city its supposed to be a part of because it’s been deliberately shut out.

    Very funny Barry

  7. Unfortunately half the tenants’ are supported largely by those who can least afford to attend a ‘premium’ stadium. That it was run by a soulless corrupt SOB who’d sell his first born didn’t help.

    I go under sufference, standing room only – which seems to get more chockers every year as fans baulk at the reserved seat price or the view from the rafters.

    When VFL Park died so did football as a game for the common person.

  8. David Downer says


    Luckily I prefer lime wedges with my Corona, as opposed to the lemon.

    Those rat bastards.

  9. It’s amazing how people now look back on VFL Park with fondness!!
    It was the original concrete jungle built in a continual rainbelt with only one way to get there and zero real atmosphere unless you got 80k plus there. I’ll take Etihad/Telstra/Colonial ahead of that and do concede that it is also bereft of old time camaraderie but c’est la vie!

  10. The thing that would make all the difference at Docklands is if someone took the mic away from the ground announcer. That arsehole has the volume at eleven and never quits plugging shit during the quarterly breaks. Fix that, and Docklands has it over VFL park and every one of the old suburban grounds; albeit not aesthetically in some cases.

  11. Well spotted T Bone. The g is just as bad these days == apparently in some election I didn’t know about we all voted for more noise in general – nothing specific but just keep the noise loud. WTF??

  12. Well done Mr Dickins. One sweep of your mighty HB pencil stub and the Bailleau Government crumbled.
    I call on you now to lead our protest march around the walls of Jericho (sorry Etihad Stadium) on Sunday March 24. Myself and the Avenging Eagle will be in your vermin infested State for the Springsteen concert on the Tuesday night. I am hoping to engage Clemons Junior to join us on tenor sax to hasten the demise of the despised edifice.
    T Bone will be on harp. Rick Kane on zither and Les Everett is bringing his tea chest bass from Freo. I am bringing my West Coast tuba and the AE has her tambourine.
    Almanackers arise – you have nothing to lose but battery raised grass and $15 pies!
    Tom Waterhouse has kindly agreed to fund our venture. He says that he always pays out for protests.

  13. Just what we need: the one-man squadron that is Barry Dickins in a bombing raid on the ghastly place football went to die.

    More Dickins, please.

  14. Dave Nadel says

    Thanks for the note of sanity, Budgie. Yes there is a lot wrong with Docklands but at least it is in the middle of town and accessible by all forms of public transport.

    I don’t miss Waverley one little bit. It was at the far end of Melbourne (not the geographical centre as the VFL claimed). Unaccessible by public transport unless you lived in Clayton or Glen Waverley. In a different (and wetter) climate zone than 80% of Melbourne. Traveling to Waverley by car involved being caught in a traffic jam even when the games involved clubs from the Western suburbs with relatively small supporter bases (Bulldogs and Roos). It wasn’t helped by the fact that the parking attendants who guided you into a spot before the match all disappeared as soon as the game started leaving thousands of cards to fight their way out of the car park after the match.

    I miss Victoria Park, I even miss Windy Hill, Moorabbin and Princes Park (a bit) but I do not miss Waverley at all!

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