Burning Down the House (or ways fans celebrate sporting success)

One of my favourite stories of fans celebrating a premiership is what Parramatta fans did in 1981 after the team won its first premiership in the old Sydney Rugby League comp: they burnt the old home ground down!

Parramatta’s rickety, old, ‘country showground’  home, Cumerland Oval, was slated to be replaced by a new ‘stadium’…that night, the jubilant fans decided to speed up the process.

The wooden grandstand went up in flames, the wooden bench seats around the oval were piled up and burnt, goal posts torn down…yep, they celebrated in true footy pagan style that night in Parra town.

I’m curious to know of other memorable sporting celebrations by fans.  Vic Park in 1990 anyone?

About Adam Muyt

Born into rugby league, found aussie rules, fell for soccer, flirts a little with union. Author of 'Maroon & Blue - recollections and tales of the Fitzroy Football Club' (Vulgar Press, 2006). Presently working on a history of postwar Dutch migrants and soccer in Australia.


  1. Steve Fahey says

    Yes, I was one of the ecstatic faithful at Vic Park in 1990.

    The pilgrimmage back from the MCG to Vic Park took several hours, with stopovers at the Yorkshire Stingo, the Morning Star and the Collingwood Town Hall, which was running the replay on repeat. Outside the Stingo I climbed a tree with my lifetime best mate Stork to catch a quiet moment and a drink amongst the mayhem. We returned to the bar to find TAFKATBM pogo-dancing in celebration. When his enthusiastic pogo dancing brought his head into contact with the lights above the pool table, about a decades’ dust and deceased insects came down upon his head, to the great mirth of many.

    Crossing Johnson Street Medallion Club Mick (obviously he was not known by this name in those days) took the opportunity to dance upon some of the vehicles that were gridlocked along the road. Yes, now we call it criminal damage, but then it was a release of many years of pent-up pain, anxiety and angst.

    I found a work Colleague, Bill at Vic Park. I had said to him on GF eve that I would roll in the dirt with him at Vic Park if we won. Upon seeing me he tackled me in a Terry Wheeler-type fashion and rolled me to the ground, where his heavily bourbon-laden breath nearly knocked me out. The fun had only just begun for Bill, who joined others shimmying up the goalposts and sliding down at speed. He also announced his engagement to a reporter from the Sunday Press who published the news in the next morning’s edition. It probably would have been better if he had asked his girlfriend first, but these were heady days, and for some reason or other she agreed to his “proposal.”

    On Monday when I went to work (yes, I did go, although it was a short day and a longish lunch) Bill was decidedly green. As he was on Tuesday morning, at which time several of us suggested that alcoholic poisoning seemed a real possibility and that he should seek medical attention. Medical tests revealed no alcohol poisoning, but a tear in the lining of the small bowel as a result of hitting the ground at the bottom of the goal post at great velocity and force !!! I haven’t seen Bill for many years, but do wonder at how he celebrated the 2010 flag !!!

    After the players left Vic Park, I headed to the Southern Cross to the official club dinner where my parents were. I hadn’t seen them or spoken to them since the game ( remember that this was pre-mobile phones) and was keen to see them. In these low-security days I easily talked my way to the door to the ballroom where I asked someone to let them know I was outside. They came out and we celebrated the flag, as well as running into a few players, including the Macedonian Marvel.

    Now THAT was a celebration.

  2. Steve Fahey says

    Oh, I forgot to add that, after leaving the G, we found Libba, the recently crowned Brownlow Medallist who had just had a knee reconstruction, waiting for a cab outside the Hilton. He happily posed for photos with us and even tolerated our renditions of Good Old Collingwood during the photo session.

  3. John Butler says

    I’m not sure how to describe this video I came across on the Interwebs, but it seems pertinent.


  4. Mmmm…I’d describe it as bad karaoke meets bad air instrumentation. Put a camera on some people and off they go, making complete fools of themselves. Personally I prefer fans celebrating by burning down grandstands and the like. But concrete’s a bugger to burn.

  5. Wayne Reardon says

    I remember Steve Fahey. Not him exactly, but do remember the 30 or so people sitting in the trees. I was 15, and my parents had the Yorkshire Stingo at the time and I’ll never forget that day. My family are all Essendon supporters, but I still remember that day as one of the greatest in my life.
    The build up to the game was unreal, I have never seen anything like it. Collingwood back then was full of many colourful characters, it was a real community. At the start of the finals Tony Shaw got up in a cherry picker and put up a huge banner on the Town Hall reading “Good old Collingwood forever, they know how to play the game”. A few days later, Pizza Hut on the next corner at Gipps St put up a sign reading “side by side we stick together”. My Dad then got a sign made for the Yorkshire Stingo on Langridge St reading “to uphold the Magpie name” and stuck it right above his big sign, which read “Go Bombers”. Best thing he ever did, the amount of people who called in and had a beer to ask about the sign made the investment very worthwhile.
    On the Friday night before the game, Collingwood was a ghost town, with only two customers in the pub. The next day was a different story, with people banging on the doors when we arrived at 7am. It was a big morning at the pub before everyone trundled off to the MCG, myself included.
    As we were getting whipped, I decided to leave after Collingwood kicked their first goal of the 4th quarter. I was pretty much the only person on the street on the short walk back to the Yorshire Stingo, everyone else was inside watching the game. I arrived back about five minutes before the siren to a handful of people in the pub, including Collingwood legends Ray “Gabba, not Gabbo” Gabelich and Duncan Wright. As the siren went Ray and Duncan were bawling their eyes out and gave each other a huge hug. I’ll never forget that too, I don’t think I’d ever seen Ray that happy before.
    Someone rushed in and said “come and have a look outside”. The few people in the pub emptied out and stood there in awe as we watched the gigantic sea of people heading our way. Even from the distance they were at we could hear the Collingwood theme song being sung, loudly. I reckon I heard that song about 30,000 times over the next week.
    Dad had bought enough stock to last us about 4 weeks of normal trade as he knew it would be busy if they won. When the mob arrived they immediately took over the place and proceded to begin drinking us dry, literally. The pub’s capacity would have been about 300 people standing, but there was around 6-700 in the bars, about 300 on the footpath and the 20 in the trees mentioned earlier. Our old cook Dawn immediately shut down the kitchen and started collecting empty glasses. People outside were playing kick to kick across all six lanes of Hoddle St, only slowing down to throw full pots of beer at the loudmouthed morons doing laps of Collingwood in their crudely painted Red and Black panel van. Even the line for the Red Phone was 30 people deep all night long. We ended up closing at around 3 am to clean up and go home to change.
    The next morning and week after were just as hectic. The day after was mad enough, until Damien Monkhurst walked in asked me for directions to the Terminus. The crowd went off!
    It was the suburb of Collingwood’s greatest time ever. Shame it’ll never happen again, as the pies have now left Vic Park. I wish they would keep a finger in there, that club was the suburb’s lifeblood.

  6. Steve Fahey says

    Fantastic recollection Wayne, it was a great night/week. One of my mates, Medallion Club Mick was leading us on “train” runs through the bar and lounge at the Stingo, singing the song with great gusto.

    I am currently reading “Kill for Collingwood” the history of the Collingwood Footy Club written by Richard Stremski in the mid 1980s. Last night I came across this gem :

    “The celebration of the 1935 premiership was one of the most riotous in Collingwood’s history. An old piano was rolled onto the centre of Victoria Park oval on the Saturday night and Dick Dummett…pounded out honkytonk melodies until the early hours of the morning. …Sunday night’s celebration was just as jubilant. Afterwards, Harry Collier, Harold Rumney and their wives left in the captain’s car. At the top of the Studley Park hill Collier drove his car into Archbishop Mannix’s fence….

    Mannix’s reputation was terrifying , especially to two non-Catholic footballers, but his humour and wit were evident when they went to apologise (some time later as they had departed the scene with their bumper bar wedged in his fence). Archbishop Mannix told them not to worry; he too was pleased by Collingwood’s grand final victory…..Moreover, he could mend his own fences. Collier sheepishly retrieved his bumper bar from the Kew police station, and the Club did the right thing by reimbursing him for the damage done to his car.”

    P.S. Who is responsible for the word Collingwood coming up as spelling error/item to be checked when one submits a comment on the Almanac site ? Many possible culprits, including Mr Butler ?!!!!!

Leave a Comment