Deconstructing Collingwood

Collingwood is in a re-building phase. Not the team, but the old ground. The Magpies haven’t played an AFL game at Victoria Park since 1999. Local teams, including the Collingwood reserves in the VFL, have been playing on the oval for nigh on a decade as parts of the ground have fallen into disrepair.

A $7.2million redevelopment will see Victoria Park opened up to the community, in similar fashion to North Melbourne’s Arden St ground, the Western Bulldogs’ Whitten Oval, and the White Elephants’ Waverley Park.

Some stands will stay, some will go. Concrete terraces will be turned into grassy knolls. A sculpture will adorn the scoreboard hill. A soundscape installation will be heard as you walk by the Sherrin stand.

You’ll be able to have a kick on the oval just about any time you like.

More photos at:

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back's not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards - the older the better.


  1. Victoria Park now has no more connection to Collingwood than Waverley Park does to the AFL. They’re no more the battlers club than BHP is the big Australian. The Pies are just another corporate entity, devoid of spirit and a place called home because they sold it all out to chase world domination and a false membership base; members who are there for the piss up after the Grand Final not for the journey to the Grand Final. They remind me a lot of Manchester United.

  2. Dave Nadel says

    Its sounds good Dips, but its not true. Collingwood is more than Eddie McGuire and the corporates he manipulated on to the Committee (We haven’t had an election for a decade).

    Collingwood members forced the club to play their seconds matches at Victoria Park. Members and supporters have had several unofficial gatherings at Victoria Park and the “piss up” at Vic Park after the Grand Final was organised by members through Magpie Websites. Eddie, the committee and their corporate mates have been forced to take some responsibility for Victoria Park (and predictably are now claiming credit for it).

    Every club has gone corporate – that is what happens when you have professional sport in a Capitalist society. I could describe Geelong as a “scab” club, because their home ground is sponsored by a “Labor hire’ company (i.e. a company aimed at allowing employers to avoid paying award wages, superannuation and leave). That however would be most unfair to most Geelong members and supporters who probably know nothing about Skilled’s policies and practises and have no control over the Club’s sponsorship decisions.

    What pisses me off are supporters of other clubs who make all these “classist’ jokes about toothless, thieving Collingwood supporters then decry the Magpies as a “millionaire, privileged club with no connection to its working class roots!” Get your prejudices right, boys and girls, you can’t have it both ways.

  3. John Butler says

    Good to see the Cats and Pies getting in early ahead of round 8. :)

  4. forwardpocket says

    Whilst I suspect Dips of merely baiting the hook, Dave’s final paragraph nails it on the head. Plenty of supporters(aka toothless ferals) turning up each week of the journey too Dips.

  5. Sound defense Dave but it falls down on a few fronts. The sponsorship of the Cats (in fact any club) is irrelevant to this discussion. The fact is that the Pies left their spiritual home thereby ignoring the hard yards done by the battlers in the old days. The Cats on the other hand have nurtured and enhanced their home. Collingwood’s heart and soul supporters will be left further and further behind as the Pies inevitably become a child of Foxtel and pay TV.

    What’s really sad is that the quintessential toothless, thieving Pie supporter is being duped. Maybe they’re too dumb to understand or perhaps too blinded by a flag and another one on the way. The club is not about them anymore. Just like in the ALP where the millionaires run the show, so it is in Pie land.

    I would argue that it is Eddie and his mates trying to have it both ways. Crunching lesser sports and mugging Collingwood’s traditions, whilst simultaneously mentioning Broadmeadows every so often to remind us all of how far away from it he now is.

  6. forwardpocket says

    Have to say that, if true, I just love this snippet from Wikipedia:
    Collingwood is an English placename (meaning “wood of disputed ownership”)

  7. Clearisghted says

    Have to agree with Dips – it’s all smoke and mirrors when it comes to Collingwood’s perceived image. Eddie is, however, a master salesman who manages to promote a sort of righteousness of victimhood from his own hood, Toorak.

  8. Andrew Fithall says

    Hope you are enjoying this conversation Vin. And Geelong will enjoy their biggest earner of the year on Friday when they play host to the Pies at the Pies home ground. Where is the outcry from those down-to-earth and fully engaged cats supporters about their home game not being played at their spiritual home Kardinia Park? Surely the club wouldn’t have requested that the game be played at the G? Those pure people at Geelong wouldn’t sell their soul would they? Speaking of crunching lesser sports, that is the intention this Friday night.

  9. Nice one AF – The Cats simply play where the masters at AFL House tell them to.

  10. Lordy, lordy. a blokes gets off the train at Victoria Park, takes a few amateur photos with a second-hand digital camera of a dilapidated footy ground, gets back on the train and then sends the photos into cyberspace. Next thing he knows there’s the remnants of a class war being waged on various fronts.

    ‘Chill’ as the umpire said to the angry Frankston reserves player a few weeks back as the Dolphins got cleaned up by 20 goals against Williamstown.

  11. johnharms says

    Who’d have thought the Friday night prep would have started with another front opening up in the class war. Go boys! The most telling thing Dave Nadel (he said weeping in to his beer) is that we are not aware of this stuff. I didn’t know Skilled was an employment agency. I rested happily at night thinking they were an engineering firm which built grandstands that looked like cats’ whiskers.

  12. Dave Nadel says

    The trouble with starting a fight on a working day is that it is time consuming. I have a detailed reply to Dips but I have to conduct lectures and tutes so I will have to wait until after 3.30 to write and post it.

  13. John Butler says

    I don’t know that you started it Dave. :)

  14. forwardpocket says

    I wonder if the live telecast will hurt Geelong’s receipts this Friday given their members’ reluctance to travel to Yarra Park on Friday nights. Perhaps they will rely on Collingwood’s phantom members?
    Great photos Vin. Vic Park now has a great backdrop of the city skyline when I’m their with my kids watching Collingwood twos and having a kick during the breaks.

  15. Rick Kane says

    Skilled is an Australasian Labour Market Hire/Recruitment organisation (one of the big boys in that field). I’m not sure, Dips, if the sponsorship dollar of an organisation is irrelevant.

    Good on the Cats for maintaining their home ground (and the advantages it provides) but it’s safe to assume that if the Cats were based in the Melbourne metro area they too would have been swept up in the grounds rationalisation process of the last 30 years.

    Whatever the Club/corporatization agenda is, on a personal level, I love that these grounds are accessible to the general public. I have worked in the inner North for a fair few years. I used to work across the road from Arden St oval. I loved bringing a footy to work and a few of us would go across and play kick to kick at lunchtime. I liked that you could walk down Arden St and see some of the world’s best athletes training and goofing around.

    The same goes for the Brunswick St oval, what has become of Waverley and the Preston City Oval. Making Victoria Park more accessible to locals taking their kids for a bit of a kick can only be good.

    Thanks for the snaps Vin.


  16. Ian Syson says

    Rick, Brunswick St Oval (Fitzroy Cricket Ground) is a perfect example of the way these old and important grounds can be refigured to fit into the community without losing their functionality. Hopefully the same thing will happen over at Gillon Oval (the renovations are still in-progress). I guess the problem at Vic Park is that Collingwood still wants to take money on the gate and therefore the ground must be enclosed.

    Dave, I was sure Eddie had moved the location of Collingwood to the MCG/Lexus Centre/Olympic Park/state of mind.

    See this Age Letter from 2002

    “The concept is, hate everyone else”

    As somebody who lived and worked in Collingwood for 30 years and has supported the footy team since I could pronounce Bobby Rose, I nearly fell out of bed when I read that the ubiquitous one, Eddie the Great, stated “Collingwood is not a suburb any more, it’s a concept”.

    I went for the Concise Oxford and there it was: “an idea or invention to help sell or publicise a commodity”. Collingwood, an object of trade? Eddie, Eddie!

    None of the Pie people around me at the preliminary final last Saturday would contemplate the passionless idea of a concept.

    In fact, supporting Collingwood is a state of mind. Being part of the tribe is the equivalent to the commitment of wearing a hair shirt. Even more it’s about getting the better of silvertails like John Elliott; it’s the exquisite delight of winning when you’re the underdog (Melbourne ’58, Essendon ’90). Next Saturday it’s about paying back Fitzroy for flooding the Collingwood flats with stormwater and excrement in the 1890s. Lest we forget!
    Neville Garner, Bright

  17. gordo47 says

    Thank you, Neville, for restoring some balance. I live in Heidelberg and go to Victoria Park for Collingwood VFL home games. This Friday night I’ll go to the MCG to watch a Geelong home game – but I won’t be barracking for the Cats. Today I continued my research at the Fitzroy Library in an attempt to prove my grandmother saw Collingwood’s first game at Victoria Park in 1892 (in the VFA). Each to their own. Incidentally, the rejigged Vic Park is starting to acquire a pleasant suburban ‘feel’, with a new view of Victorian terraces over the demolished concrete terraces.

  18. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Sorry Dave, but Collingwood has been a club for the ‘new believers’ since Toorak Eddie took over. The Collingwood working class supporter still exists, but not more so than any other club.

    I went to Victoria Park after the Grand Final and found a few hundred people who like myself, didn’t quite know why they were there. Collingwood moved on years ago, maybe some of us aren’t quite ready to make the transition from having a topographical symbolic connection to an ambiguous symbolic ‘concept’.

    Dips, your geography has given you the luxury of keeping Kardinia Park and getting cheap wins bullying low level to mid table teams.

    Wonderful snaps Vin. I miss my home ground.

  19. Dave Nadel says

    Ground Rationalisation has been AFL policy for more than twenty years longer than there has been an AFL. It was first seriously mentioned in the 1960s when Richmond moved to the MCG. IT was advocated by VFL Presidents Nathan and Aylett in the 1970s, and argued for in Reports by John Hennessy (AFL planner in the late 70s and early 80s) and Colin Carter. Carter, who is the current Geelong President, led a team that wrote a report for VFL Commission in 1984 that was pretty much the bluepoint for the development of the VFL/AFL as a professional and national league of the following decade.

    Over the last thirty years all the Melbourne teams (except the Demons, obviously) have been bribed and bullied to leave their home grounds for the MCG and/or Waverley/Docklands. The fact that the Cats remain at Kardinia Park has nothing to do with loyalty to fans or good leadership and everything to do with being 60 kilometers South West of the Melbourne GPO. And for the record Kardinia Park is not their original VFL ground anyway. Corio Park (home until 1941) has been obliterated far more completely than any of the former metropolitan VFL grounds since 1921 (East Melbourne)

    Obviously Eddie tried to take the move a step further with the move of training facilities and administration to the former swimming Centre (Westpac Centre). Most members were happy with the improved facilities for the players (which has played a role in Collingwood’s current success) but were unhappy about the abandonment of Victoria Park. The problem was not only Eddie and his corporate mates, the Nimbys and Yuppies of Yarra Council were also unhelpful.

    I think Collingwood’s heart has stayed at Victoria Park throughout the contested years of the early noughties and I suggested in an earlier post, the club has Victoria Park back via the Seconds. Collingwood is a real place and it is more than a state of mind (although it is that as well). Collingwood the suburb probably has very few traditional Pies living there. The last graduate of Collingwood Tech to play in the Firsts was Jerker Jenkin more than forty years ago. Like Carlton, Fitzroy, Richmond, North and South Melbourne, gentrifying yuppies have replaced the old working class and you only find the proletariat in the Commission flats. But that ignores the effect of zoning from 1915 to 1983 and its on-going legacy.

    From the end of WWII Collingwood supporters moved into Housing Commission and privately owned houses along the Epping and Hurstbridge train lines and much of this area was zoned to Collingwood. Collingwood isn’t just one suburb and a state of mind. It is Northcote, Heidelberg, West Heidelberg, Ivanhoe, Greensborough, Montmorency, Preston, Reservoir, Thomstown and most of the rest of the suburbs between the Merri Creek and the Plenty River. Corporatisation hasn’t changed that and even 28 years after the end of zoning they still run extra trains to Greensborough after Collingwood games.

    Corporatisation has changed football and some of the changes are in ways that many of us do not like. I gave Skilled as an example of one effect on the Cats but I could give many other examples. I wouldn’t fly Emirates even though I get a discount as a Collingwood member. I don’t particularly like the way Eddie has seized control at Collingwood although I acknowledge that many of his actions and strategies have helped the club to success. I don’t however think that he has destroyed the basic nature of the club anymore than I think that John Wren destroyed the essence of the club a century ago.

  20. Steve Fahey says

    One thing that Eddie says that I agree with is that Collingwood is a broad church. We love to comfortably pigeon-hole things, i.e. toothless Pies fans, corporate Collingwood, “a concept”, but the truth is that we have a broad and diverse supporter base, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

    My dad was born and raised in Collingwood in the post-Depression thirties, and you still some of the old-timers from Strugglesville , albeit that they are less identifiable as a congregation than they were in the Vic Park days. We older, that is, middle age supporters, have the strong historical and spiritual connection to Vic Park as “home,” but the question is what our kids’ will connect to as the Pies’ home.

    For me, leaving Vic Park was sad, but one of the best decisions the club has made – we moved a few kms away to the best sports stadium in the country where all the big games are played and many more people can watch us play, usually without having to cough up for reserved seats. Also you don’t have to stand in two inches of urine when you go to the men’s at the G. Where is the downside ?

    P.S. Phil – My brother and a few others went to Vic Park at about 1am on GF night to stand in the centre circle and sing the song. I was going but missed out to because of a 14 year-old who was falling asleep just after midnight and needed to go home. I suppose I could have followed the Crown Casino lead and left her in the car in the car park !!!

    Floreat Pica

  21. Clearsighted says

    Well stirred Dips! Defensiveness abounds!

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