Inside Football: Docklands Stadium


I have a confession to make.


I was once a member of the Medallion Club.


With the Y2Kerfuffle looming, our fledgling IT consulting company known colloquially as TBC (Three Blokes Consulting) was fooling enough corporates providing cost-effective, reliable, independent (and lucrative) ERP systems advice that enabled the three principals to lash out on some FBT-inducing expenditure. We took on a pair of tickets, a row back from the front, just down the aisle from the northern end coaches’ box, at several pineapples per month.


Somehow we negotiated the provision of an underground car-park space as well, so we signed up for five year’s worth of admission to the then Colonial Stadium’s roster of good, bad and St Kilda matches.


I was there for the first match, a Thursday night between Essendon and Port Adelaide. Seeing the latter get well and truly trounced from our admittedly very agreeable dress circle vantage point was one of the few fondish memories that I have of this rancid venue.


Midway through 2000, we sold our business to a slightly larger concern, but neither the Carlton-following director nor his Tiges-loving cohort were interested in taking over the rights to our glorified Gold Class arse holders, so they remained on the books of our little ACN.


Sure, there were some good times, as the initial Colonial fixturing included at a few tasty “marquee matchups” that had the crowdometer hovering in the mid-50ks. And I remember Mothers’ Day 2000, when I took Melbourne’s finest antiquarian book seller to watch his Bombers storm home against the Crows, where the pregame palaver included the sight of King Richard being taken for a burl in the back of a hovercraft. But the constant scoreboard orders to “Let’s Get Loud” gave me the Fritzy Freeman’s.


I quite enjoyed the 2003 Wizard Cup, where I may have enquired about the Medallion Club-worthiness of the mouthy Collingwood crash repair shop owner seated across the aisle from me. Boy, did I get the last laugh there.


The convenience of being able to drive my ’93 Camry into the bowels of the complex was a plus when going to a low-attendance game, but wasn’t worth the effort for the more popular (and generally night-time) games.


We tried off-loading our tickets towards the end of our commitment, but we couldn’t get a single taker to take over, so we just didn’t renew them after the 2004 season. We’d had the benefit of guaranteed Grand Final seats from 2000-2004, which we had to fairly carve up between the three of us. In my case, this was the 2003-04 ones, and I may still have a commemorative Dipper polyester scarf that greeted each seatholder upon arrival one year. This also gave me a frontish row seat at Mark Williams’ Allan Scott necktie tribute.


I also went to a few of the 2003 Rugby World Cup clashes, but only because they were effectively free. Call me not a wanker, but the various corporate attractions of the Medallion Club (apart from the pine-scented urinal lollies) did nothing for me.


What really annoyed me about Docklands was the flamin’ roof. I just hated the idea of indoor footy and still do. It’s not such an unagreeable venue with the roof open. The north-south orientation that introduced severe shadows during daytime roof-opened games was touted as a huge mistake; presumably those with that axe to grind have never been to footy in SA (or Geelong or Footscray even). It was the overhang of the ridiculous roofing not the pole to pole placement of  the posts that was to blame. (And while I’m at it, what about the bulltish that was troweled on about the ability for the seating to be moved closer to the action for the rectangular field codes? How often was that used?).


Anyway, I’ve resigned myself to having to stay on until Southern Cross a couple of times a year in case the Crows managed to snaffle the four points, but geez I still hate the place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got the heebeegeebees during that very narrow pathway under the NAB building on the way back to the station – there’s gonna be a stampede one day and it’s not going to be pretty.


Docklands is FM breakfast radio/Michael Gudinski’s version of entertainment.  I don’t want my MTV, I want that striped sunlight footy sound that you can hear as you approach (or even depart) the ground.


Is it just me?



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About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Rulebook says

    Swish it does seem to be the over whelming feeling of Victorians in particular to the ground I admit I don’t mind it but admit I went to a 20 20 game there one night ( yes obviously free tickets ) it certainly didn’t feel right for cricket

  2. Chris Rees says

    Never been there

  3. Dave Brown says

    It’s a great viewing ground. The first of the modern stadia (now replicated at places like Adelaide Oval and presumably Optus Stadium) where the higher seats feel like you are perched over the ground. Food and drink is easy to access.

    All they need to do now is work out how to grow/maintain grass and somehow imbue it with a soul and it will almost be a real footy stadium.

  4. Interesting that you published this a day after the Footy Park demolition was completed. Of course it hosted some great moments with the ’76 SANFL grand final prominent for me, but it was terrible to get to and from, was a testament to concrete soullessness, and could be bitterly cold. I think the Docklands stadium (can’t apply any of its sponsored names) superior for access, viewing and atmosphere although I admit these maybe partly a function of it having being built nearly thirty years after Footy Park.

    I’ve only been there at night and during the day (with you) and haven’t first-hand seen the light/shadow problems that often occur when the roof is open, but declare that it makes for tricky televisual viewing.

    Like the Mark Williams’ Allan Scott necktie tribute line. Until that point in 2004 I know a number of football fans (who might`ve been Crows followers) who called him not Choko but Chocko.

    Thanks Swish.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    The Dungeon. Grey, dank, charmless, airless. I’m there too often, usually the graveyard shift, Sunday twilight when I should be home ironing a shirt for Monday.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Even the siren is soulless.

  7. It’s not that great a viewing ground, especially from the top deck, where any action in the pocket you are stting requires jumping to your feet to see the action. The biiggest reason it lacks soul though is not the roof, but the fact that the vast majority of fans are forced to sit up in the top deck. There’s usually a major disconnect of four-n-twenty branded seating between the play and the GA seating.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Who doesn’t love pine scented urinal lollies?

    Agree with your thoughts on the possibility of a post game stampede. It’s a nightmare to herd kids through.

    I’ve changed our 2019 memberships to MCG games only for all the reasons outlined above.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks all.

    Make up your mind ‘Book, was it 20/20 or cricket?

    Your gain, Chris

    Apart from my very well positioned Medallion Club seats Dave, I’ve only ever watched from Level Three (with the exception of a post-Uni Greys lunch game against the Kangas where we were given the front running on the fence behind the North bench) It doesn’t seem that close from way up there. At least my nosebleed seats at AO last year came with added sunset.

    It’s still strange to think that arenas are obsolescent so soon Mickey. (We’ll always have that Richmond v Saints 2014 game to look back on, won’t we?)

    I feel your pain AS.

    I’m with you Steve.

    Good thinking Luke. I’ll see you Round 8, if my quest to watch lots of MCG day games comes to pass this year.

    I had similar responses to the above on Twitter, although one person enjoyed the Docklands car park experience more than its VFL Park equivalent.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for reminding me of 2003 Wizard Cup Swish !
    Bloody Wayne Carey….
    Not a fan of the joint at all. Bastard of a place to get out of even when the crowd is average.

  11. Mark Duffett says

    Can’t say you’ve rushed to judgement. A fair verdict, all things considered.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I thought that crash repair bloke was familiar Phil.

    Apparently the new ground sponsors don’t allow for any justice from the league Mark.

  13. Been there a few times. Eagles v low membership strugglers (Saints, Kangas, Dogs) ensures more empty seats than fans. Plenty of room to spread out the picnic rug. Hang around after for the Eagles interstate function celebrations in a tiny space while the home team function rooms have more staff than supporters. Amble back across the footbridge past the shuttered bars and tumbleweeds. The railway a Mason Dixon line between hipster Melbourne and grunge Melbourne.
    Never seen us lose there. Great place for footy.
    10000000xxxxx better than being sent to f’ing Siberia in Launceston or Hobart. More plane changes and expense to get there from Perth than flying to Hong Kong.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    What’s the attraction with the post game functions PB?

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