Crio’s Q: Changes in Sport

We are being ambushed with old images. Hairy ODIs and sun-drenched Kooyong. Promoters love nostalgia.

It can be interesting some times to reflect on what change has slipped by during your lifetime. Often it is quite difficult to recall where and when it came about. Who was last to “turn out the lights”?

Who did wear the last lace-up jumper?

If Tommy ever listened, he’d hear me, like “Digger”, remembering days of…

– standing starts and 12yd handicaps at the “cheats on seats”

– small wooden racquets and no tie-beaks at the tennis

– cricket trousers with buttons and zips in the days when extra drinks meant a swig from a can over the fence

– punters on the flat and TAB payouts only after the last

– ankle high boots and dropkicks, back when footy wasn’t called AFL.

What’s changed over your sportswatching career and who was the last “dinosaur”?


  1. John Butler says

    Carlton used to get to beat Collingwood in Grand finals. :(

    Aussie batsmen knew how to play off the back foot.

  2. Openers had a clear role. Take the shine off.
    Keepers kept. Didn’t pinch hit. Usually batted 8.
    Bowlers toiled. No “Reverse”.
    Fielders were in quirkily named positions, but they never “swept”.
    We watched TV coverage from a fixed camera…rather like being at the match. No ads.

  3. John Butler says

    You could watch the reserves before the main game instead of suffering ground announcers shoving ads down your throat.

  4. John Butler says

    And you had your choice of games on a Saturday arvo.

  5. John Butler says

    Your “brand” was established by your performance, not how you looked in a calendar.

  6. Damian Watson says

    Certainly corporatisation within sport has changed immensely over the last 15-20 years. The rapid developement of sport science over the last few years is also a worthy mention.

  7. Peter Flynn says

    When was the 24-can limit outlawed at the cricket?

    The calamity of the blue foam esky falling apart just prior to entry into the ground.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Really agree with #3 and #5, JB.

    You could decide to go to the footy an hour before the game and be almost certain to get in, even when it was Collingwood vs Carlton at Victoria Park (of course you had to stand).

    If you were a social club member you could get a reasonable meal before the game and most of the money went to the club rather than Spotless O’Brien

    While a lot of your team’s best players came from interstate or Vic country, those that came from Melbourne were zoned and were fairly likely to have supported the club they were playing for since early childhood.

    Because of zoning and the fact that clubs had 2nds and 3rds, almost everyone who went to co-ed or boys’ schools knew a couple of VFL players.

  9. We go down to watch the Bullants play (easily the best footy jumper going around – ever) and enjoy a can of beer and a hot-dog being cooked on a BBQ. At quarter time we wander on to the ground to listen to the coach barking at the back-line. Reminds me of watching footy (WAFL) at Bassenden and Lathlain in the late 70s/early 80s.

    Last year at York Park, we sat on grass and watched the Mighty Hawks, er, lose. The point being, we sat on grass. Loved the memory evoking moment.

  10. Now we have a draft system there are few high quality Tasmanians playing AFL. When they played the game locally they were better when they went across the water.

    You used to be able to get your car into York Park (Aurora Stadium) and toot your horn at highlights.

    Essendon used to be taken seriously……..

  11. Andrew Fithall says

    Mid-winter football was played on bog heaps. Not all nostalgia is worth returning to.

    Having a post-match kick on the ground at Victoria Park, perhaps chasing the cameras around to get our heads on the live post-match television reviews, all while waiting for dad to come out of the bar so we could drive back to Ballarat via the single carriageway highway, with a stop-over for fish and chips at Bacchus Marsh.

  12. Andrew Fithall says

    #1 – Carlton used to actually win an occasional final – generally a pre-requisite for making it to Grand Finals.

  13. #8. Following on from Dave’s Spotless O’Brien comment:

    You used to be able to walk into a footy ground without hearing the following announcement on the way in: “Please note that pre-purchased packaged food is not permitted to be brought into the stadium.”

  14. John Butler says

    #12, yes we did. 1915, 1938, 1970, 1979, 1981…

    Who says all progress is good?

  15. #4 Six games on a Saturday afternoon in Melbourne…what a great idea!

    Further to that, JB, I used to enjoy matching up the letters in the “Record” (A is Melbourne, B is Fitzroy etc etc) and checking the progress scores on the old scoreboard at Arden St (e.g. “C is thrashing D” and then glancing at the record to check who C and D were).

  16. 11. Agree with you Andrew. Do not long for those Moorabbinn mud-heaps.
    My dad also reckons that North’s decision to let Courage brewery sponsor them in the 70’s was NOT one of the club’s great calls.

  17. Peter Flynn says

    a,b and c bracketing of horses in quadrella legs

    Bookie boards showing fractional odds.

  18. Richard Jones says

    BEING able to actually stand up at the footy, not forced to become theatre patrons on seats.
    Under the big Moorabool Street-side scoreboard at Kardinia Park (no stadium moniker, either).

    If you can’t last a few hours on the pins the idea was don’t go.

    #4 and #$18: yep, and it was the VFL back then, too, with the 12 Viccy clubs playing all six games on Saturdays.
    Preston, Prahran, Willy, Dandenong, Port, even Brunswick and Coburg were among the clubs battling it out in the VFA.

    RON Casey (the Melbourne one) calling the fights from the West Melbourne stadium on 3DB, Monday nights. My Dad and I would huddle around the bakelite radio, even getting an extension cord to make sure it reached close to the open fire during the winter months.

  19. Richard Jones says

    SHOULD read #4 and #15 re Sat. afternoon VFL matches.

  20. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Loved the old scoreboards…the roar at Vic Park when Carlton was getting trounced at another game…Sorry JB.

    I miss the unique atmosphere of each old ground. Every second week was a different adventure going into enemy territory. You never new what to expect and that was part of the thrill. I feel lucky that I was able to experience the last few years of VFL and got the chance to watch Collingwood play at every VFL ground. Every ground offered something different in terms of conditions,facilities and character. Going to the G feels like going to the pictures some weeks. It can be sterile.

    Two cans per quarter, smoking unfettered,the scent of aromatic tobacco wafting across the outer in the late afternoon,the peanut man,feral old ladies with brollies. I miss the faces, voices and the places at a time when ‘place’ truly meant something.

    Crio, re cricket gear. Was there really a time when there was no such thing as velcro?

  21. The only time I ever went on the Sydney Hill (Australia v. Pakistan, 1973) three blokes carried in a bathtub full of ice and beer.

    I also remember ABC TV broadcasts during the 1977/78 and 1978/79 summers when you kept hearing explosive whistles as kegs were opened.

  22. During the 1978/79 Lambs to the Slaughter tour, Henry Blofeld commentated on those ABC broadcasts and once went over to the Hill to have a beer with some punters who had stuck up a sign (without a Toyota symbol) which read “Henry Blofeld coom an’ ‘ave a beer.”

  23. The kicking duel in rugby league.

  24. or feeding the scrum

  25. I still want to know who were the last in all the categories…last ankle boots, lace-up…

  26. I can’t remember who was the last central European female tennis player who didn’t grunt

    Watching tennis at the moment and Wickhayer sounds like a pig mating.

  27. Was it Tony Pollinelli who allegedly was the last to use a place kick?

  28. I can clearly remember Kevin Bartlett in lace up guernsey. But then probably the whole team were (circa 1980?) (Esso?)

  29. Safe to declare D K Lillee last one to use the aluminium cricket bat?

  30. I know it’s a little off track, but Doug Flutie (N E Patriots) was the last player to kick
    a drop-goal in the NFL, in the 2005/6 season. This had not been done since 1941 !

  31. The dog track at the Gabba.

    Brisbane Bears.

    Newtown Jets.


    Leather straps and stainless steel buckles on pads.

    A vertical slinging action ala Thommo.

  32. Not off topic at all Smoke…just what I was looking for.

  33. #9 Rick, I’m not familiar with your Northern Bullants jumper, but I’ll take your bet and raise you a Bali Geckos one. I don’t have the technology or brain power to insert an image here.

    You could go to, then to the 2009 Bali 9s page to have a look at some photos towards the bottom.

    I hate to say it but the Dubai Dingoes also have an interesting jumper featuring the Dubai skyline. But you didn’t hear that from me…

  34. Andrew Fithall says

    Did I just read correctly that Chris Judd won a Golden Globe today? Extraordinary. What can that man not do?

  35. John Butler says

    You neglected to mention his Nobel Peace prize AF.

    The answer to your question is nothing.

  36. John Butler says

    Maybe they should send Swannie over for some tips. :)


    Hi Gus, #33: Sure, Geckos and Dingoes work, but the Bullant is an inspired image/metaphor. The Myrmecia (sorry to get technical, I mean Bullant) is aggressive and powerful and potentially lethal. They have superior vision, great foot speed (I may have made that up) and can also regurgitate food back in the nest so other ants can consume it (thanks Wikipedia) but that’s kinda drifting from the point. Check the hyperlink. The jumpers are both reductively obvious and awesome at the same time. Me like.


  38. Gus, are teachers-norths gorn? They used to be on the receiving end of some hidings when I first went to Brisbane. I worked as a sparky briefly on their spiffy new clubhouse. Who owns it now?

    The loss of the dog track and the hill at the gabba are a disgrace.

    The demise of the Foley Shield.

  39. Peter Flynn says

    #27 Tony Ongarello (maybe against Geelong in the mid-50’s)?

    Last legit drop kick could have been Bruce Lindner??

    Cable was still kicking them in the mid-70’s.

  40. Northcote Dragons, Yarraville Eagles, Brighton Penguins, Prahran Two Blues and about ten other former VFA clubs. Some, like Caulfield, Moorabbin and Mordialloc live on in lower level competitions but some, like Northcote, are gone completely.

    The VFA itself. The current VFL has only a tenuous relationship to the old VFA. Port Melbourne, Frankston are independent clubs wearing their traditional colours. Williamstown, Sandringham and Werribee are not fuly independent but have the traditional colours and symbols. But Preston and Springvale have changed their names and Coburg and Box Hill have changed their symbols. North Ballarat and Bendigo are country teams – Bendigo in particular is a bad joke, they play half their home games in Melbourne.

  41. #21 Tony – the explosive noise was actually empty kegs being ‘de-speared’. Saw a few head injuries over the years when newbies unwisely put their head over the spear when removing it and wore it!

  42. Chris Weaver says

    Don Jolley reckoned Ian Robertson to be the last to unleash a drop kick.

    Geelong and North Melbourne were the last clubs to have players wearing lace-up guernseys (1987). They were banned after Robbie Flower and Brian Wilson became the last in a long line of players to badly break fingers while tackling them.

    As for mine – bubble gum in packets of footy/cricket cards. Last occurred in 1992.

  43. 38# Ian, Teachers are now Norths Rugby Union Club, which is a combination of 3 clubs, although they have had some success and occasional wins over the big 3 (Uni, Souths and Brothers). A mate of mine played for them, showed a touch of dash on the wing and was promptly scouted by about 5 clubs. Which kind of explains their traditional wooden spoon winning ways.

    Chris Roche and Tony Darcy, (both ex-Wallabies), are involved in the club and it is looking strong from Under 6’s to Open/Premier Division.

    But it’s not really the same…

  44. Alistair Lynch kicked a goal for the Lions from about 1m out, possibly the first season they made the 8, (1997?). I recall he was roundly condemned for his ‘show-boating’…

  45. Ahem, “a drop-kick for a goal” not “a goal”…

  46. When did Aussie Rules players start wearing slippers?

  47. #37 Rick, I take your Bullants similising and take you down this Gecko journey. Sticky mits for grabbing all that comes near in perfect ‘one-touch’ synchronicity. Able to lie patiently in wait for victims before exploding with blinding speed to nab the unwary. Bullants might have “great” foot speed, but a gecko has phenomanal foot speed (thanks Roy and HG!). They are elusive. And finally, able to adapt to all conditions.

    The two colours, blue/green, separated by the diagonal gecko is a classic linking our Australian roots and Balinese location in a rarely achieved style.

    In a slight aside, it was once considered at a committee meeting whether to become the Bali Dockers. It would have meant taking on the Dockers colours and song in return for financial support from Freo. While the money was needed, the consensus was that heritage was worth more than wearing a purple jumper…

  48. Peter Flynn says

    I reckon Borg was the last player to wield a wooden racquet in his ill-fated comeback in the early-90’s.

    I reckon 1985 was the last year that white balls were used at SW19.

    Who was the last VFL player to light up at 3/4 time?

  49. Gus, Duly noted, understood and appreciated. Let the Gecko, Bullant, Hawk et al survive and thrive in the great big crazy competitive world of sports team names.

    And lets us hope teams will continue to stretch their imagination in matching their aspirations to a solid dependable name (Power and Suns and Dockers being low water marks) and that one day a team will be bold enough to call themselves the Murderers or something like that.


  50. Hear, hear Rick. A lot to be said for a ‘Great Australian’ moniker as opposed to some imported/feral species. And that include the Giants (Sydney and the failed Gold Coast rugby league), Broncos, et al. Why is it so hard to identify a local/national icon for a logo?

    My favourite is the Fighting Whiting Bribie Island rugby league team. Sadly their AFL team took on the Carlton colours.

  51. Mick Jeffrey says

    My select few from the sporting realm…..


    – Friday Night Football was NOT every weekend, North Melbourne seemed to play in most of the games that were played
    – Curtain Raisers before the Grand Final (there have been none over the last few years)
    – GF Pre-Match entertainment was just a singer and maybe a guitar to sing Waltzing Matilda and the National Anthem. No concerts, no kids with flags etc
    – Sunday Football was almost always Sydney Swans vs Whoever 11 times a year, with the other 11 Sunday’s being the 2’s football
    – Long Sleeve Guernseys outnumbered sleeveless on a cold day.
    – The Midweek Cup where it was often Collingwood vs North Adelaide or East Fremantle vs St.Kilda


    – Permanent replacement rule, no interchange (ran until 1990, then it became 6 changes a game, then unlimited, then 12, then 10)
    – ONE referee with 2 linesmen and 2 in-goal judges instead of 2 refs and sometimes 2 lazy ex-refs in the booth
    – The Midweek and Pre-Season cup held over 4 quarters with matches in bush locations
    – There were 22 (Richie Benaud) elite teams spread over 2 competitions in 1997, now there are 16. Teams like the South Queensland Crushers, Hunter Mariners, Adelaide Rams, Perth Reds. Some of the merged clubs were solo such as Balmain Tigers, Western Suburbs Magpies, Illawarra Steelers
    – Goalkickers that were toe-pokers. Mal Meninga and Terry Matterson amongst the last of the dying breed.


    – Baltimore Ravens were Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans were Houston Oilers, Oakland and St.Louis were both LA teams, Arizona were known as Phoenix when they moved from St.Louis
    – Tuesday Night wrap show on ABC with Don Lane instead of 3-4 Live games a week on ONE


    – 12 Minute quarters (they’re now 10)
    – Channel 7 had the rights, then Channel 10, then the ABC before it was Pay-TV exclusive
    – Melbourne Tigers vs South East Melbourne Magic was THE rivalry. Darren Lucas always guarded Andrew Gaze (until Mike Kelly came along), then late in games would be substituted for Andrew Parkinson who would have run-ins with Ray Gordon. Brian Goorjian paced the sidelines all night while opposing coach Lindsay Gaze barely got out of his seat. Mark Bradtke pounding bodies against John Dorge and Chris Anstey all night.
    – Brisbane Bullets, Geelong Supercats, Hobart Devils, Gold Coast Rollers, Westside Melbourne Saints, Eastside Melbourne Spectres, Newcastle Falcons, North Melbourne Giants, Canberra Cannons, Townsville were known as the Suns
    – Venues like The Snakepit, The Glasshouse (now the House of Eddie), Kingborough Sports Centre in Hobart with a GREEN court, The Apollo Arena, The Arena
    – More than 2 games a week were covered, even though you’d hardly see more than 2 games a weekend. There was local crews covering home games rather than Steve Carfino (played for the Devils and Kings) and a local in the booth.

  52. Launceston Casino City v. Nunawading Spectres

    Geelong Cats v. West Adelaide Bearcats

    Claxton Shield on ABC TV. Mark Linger & Mike Klinger (think I’ve got that the right way round).

  53. Consolation Doubles…in Adelaide you got a div for 2nd in the 2nd leg of the Daily Double.

  54. Brackets for the Quaddy in Melbourne! Loved it…and lost on it!

  55. Crio,
    Adelaide still have a few quirks….amongst them 2 points for a win and percentages that look wrong. If the AFL had been smarter we would have continued that for them into 1997 and they wouldnt have even made the finals.

  56. What about half time scoobies behind the Barkly st goal and fish and chips in newspaper wrapping in the pub later?

  57. Chalk,

    Less red behind posts in SA than in yore.

  58. Crio — are they now more of a pink shade?

  59. In pre-Xmas week, and in Adelaide, we (me with son Tom and nephew Matt) went to the Adelaide Oval – as you do.The new stands were reviewed and the perfect turf acknowledged. Young Matthew entered in to the ground’s nostalgia, lauding the boundary fence. Momentarily I’d thought he’d recognised the picketed charm…in fact he was noticing the fixed advertising hoardings rather than his gen’s accepted auto-rotated ads as TV backdrops!

  60. Tenously sport related. The BMX track on what is now the highway between Tugun and Currumbin Creeks. That was when the Gold Coast didn’t stretch further than 1km from the beach. The only Gold Coast Suns then were a result of a night at Bombay Rock with a double vision quality hangover…

    Didn’t know it was called BMX until a few years later. Even though modifications were taking place there that soon became de rigeur amongst the ‘Mongoose’ set.

  61. Duckworth and Lewis didn’t decide games.

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