Link: Billy Miller goes to the Junction Oval

Our series Billy Miller Goes to the OLD VFL Grounds continues with his visit to the Junction Oval, once the home of St Kilda, later the home of Fitzroy, since 1971 the site of Footy’s Great Fog-Out.


  1. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    My mate, Ab the concreter from Wagga Wagga reckons Peter Box was the best mark he has ever seen in the Riverina. Ab recalls going to games in the 60s with his step-father Galva Neitchske who called the South West League match of the day for 2WG.
    Peter Box went to Grong Grong Matong as captain-coach in 1960 after a stint at Camberwell in the VFA having won the Brownlow medal in 1956 – the year Billy Miller recalls in this posting as having gone along to see the Sainters play for the first time ever against Box’s team, Footscray.
    He had a vice-like grip, according to Ab, and he had superb judgement plus he couldn’t be buffeted out of position – an image of Plugger springs to my mind.

  2. Rod Galva Neitchke was a very colourful character. He was a solicitor who moved from South Australia . He was president of Turvey Park for a period and tried to introduce the SA lace up jumper into the South West League as it then was .Alas there was strong local resistance and the set of jumpers finished up in his garage ! He was also a fearless punter and was the scourge of bookies all through the Riverena .His distinctive eye patch set him apart from the rank and file punters

  3. Gary,

    Eye patch!

    Who is this Galva of whom you speak? He sounds like a true country footy character.

    I’ve never seen an eye patch at the footy.

    I did see Dave Graney wandering around in a theatrical greatcoat at Warburton one day, doing slow and sure laps with his wife Claire, watching the footy and taking in the atmosphere while also contributing to it.

    In my mind, he should have been wearing an eye patch (and a parrot on his shoulder) but, no, never seen one at the footy.

  4. Paul Galva wore the eye patchbecause he had in fact lost an eye .The patch was functional rather than theatrical ! Based in Wagga he was well known in footy circles because of his role as a caller on local radio station 2WG. Galva would do the South West League. As a caller he made a very good solicitor !

  5. Thanks Gary,

    Whoops. I feel too flippant when you mention that he lost an eye.

    Rocket (sorry, Sheikh Rocket) always reckons there were great characters in Riverina footy.

    As for the Junction Oval, I’m fascinated by the game in which Carl made his debut. St Kilda must have been an excitement machine in those days.

  6. Paul You should listen to the Sheikh ! Could be the makings of another book

  7. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for your comments on Galva Neitchke – he wasn’t as highly involved in footy when I was around except as an honorary legal adviser. By then he had moved on from the Wagga bookies and used to fly to Melbourne for the races nearly every Saturdays on a Kendell’s small jet.

    The other great caller on 2WG was Riverina’s own Mr Football, Bert Schmidt.
    Bert did the Farrer League that played on Saturdays; the South-West League played on Sundays.
    Bert was instrumental in the establishment of the licensed club for the game, the Riverina Australian Football Club – better known as the Rules Club.
    He also started up the footy programs for each league – The Crier for the Farrer league and The Sou-Wester for the South-West League – and did it all for both until the advent of the Riverina Football Record for both in 1983.
    A wonderful man, real gentleman.
    Bert famously could scull a schooner of beer while standing on his head.
    Saw him do it a few times in Wagga Tigers’ Clubrooms.
    Just a great man to be with.

    Got any stories to share on Bert?

    Daff – Carl Ditterich’s debut against Melbourne in the first round of the 1963 season as a seventeen year old was stunning – he was best-on-ground – you may have seen the photo of him leaping all over Graeme Wise to palm the ball to a rover – either Rossie Smith or Doggy Rowlands.
    Melbourne, of course, were an absolute powerhouse in this period.
    Ian Stewart also made his debut this day in the centre – ousting Lance Oswald from the position.
    As did Bob Murray (from Sandringham) at full forward.
    Alas Bill Stephenson – whom Billy Miller waxes lyrical about in his video had retired due to injury. He was built like Plugger – a strong overhead mark, but an awkward but accurate left foot kick for goal. He was loved by Saints fans.
    Jim Wallis, a school teacher from Quambatook took over his #11 jumper and also made his debut in that game. Jim used to fly a light plane down to Melbourne for training.

  8. Rocket,

    Planes, trains, Riverina Records… what a colourful little post that was!

    That Round 1, 1963, match is a doozy. Big Carl, Stewie and Bob Murray all making their debuts in the same match! And Jim Wallis flying down from Quambatook! I had no idea of that one.

    I wonder if Jim is still around up that way. Luke Livingston last year played for his home club, Kerang. He drove home every Friday night and stayed on the family farm at Quambatook.

    Bob Murray is a very popular man at the Wang Rovers footy club, where he’s coached the reserves in recent years. He’s a very humble man, just happy to do his bit for the club and for young footballers in general.

  9. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Bob Murray had played in Sandringham’s 1962 VFA premiership side – and came to the Saints the next year with team-mate Des Kennedy (father of the Lions’ Matthew “Max” Kennedy). He badly injured his knee early in the season and was out of action for a long time.
    For the Queen’s Birthday round in 1965 St Kilda coach Alan Jeans pulled off an audacious move – he bought Bob Murray in as full back and moved State full back Verdun Howell to full-forward – where each played for the rest of the season including the grand final.
    St Kilda ended Melbourne’s unbeaten run from the previous season when they had had won the flag.
    This was around the time Melbourne sensationally sacked Norm Smith – pretty sure he coached that day, but, the big loss to St Kilda did not help his cause, after being unbeaten the Demons slipped down the ladder and never even made the finals. It was to be a very long time before they did again, I think not until the mid-80s…
    Bob Murray went onto be full back in the premiership team – he took the last mark of the game to halt Collingwood’s last desperate forward thrust – and played for Victoria on a number of occasions.
    A scrupulously fair player.

  10. Rocket,

    That 1965 loss is justly famous. Melbourne had won their opening 10 games. Norm Smith was sacked either just before or just after the St Kilda loss and, as you say, the Dees missed the finals, not to return until 1987, in Robbie Flower’s last season.

    Almanackers Tony Reed and Peter Flynn have a classic tale from the day that Melbourne infamously lost the 1987 prelim to Hawthorn. I might turn over to that pair to fill you in.

  11. Rocket,

    I’m a bit short on time.
    Here is a shortened version of the tale.
    Maybe a full article about this game could appear at some point during the season.

    Tony and I (and a couple of others) were playing 500 in a student house out in Mulgrave listening to the ’87 Prelim on the tranny. We were getting progressively sucked in by how well the Demons were going (aided a little by fortuitous changes in wind direction).
    We began to believe that they could slay the star-studded beast.
    At some stage early in the third quarter, and probably after another doomed open misere call, we decided to head out to VFL Park and see if we could sneak in and watch the last quarter.
    I can’t remember the mechanics of us getting in, however, we found a possie standing between the outer wing and the outer half-forward line.
    We made it for the start of the last quarter. Melbourne well up (about 4 goals) and seemingly headed for the GF.
    What happened in the last quarter has been well documented.
    After the match, Tony and I went to see if we could get into the Melbourne rooms. Tony has a nose for these things. Along the way, we came across an irate Melbourne president Stewie Spencer and an even more irate D Hinch, banging on the umpire’s door demanding all sorts of requests. Replays, cries of cheating etc. Very choice and fruity langauge was being used.
    After the shock of Hinch, we snuck into the Melbourne rooms just as Swooper started getting into J Stynes. We witnessed the spray and remember the famous photo being taken of the spray.
    It was an extraordinary hour or so down in the bowels of VFL Park that Prelim Final day.

  12. Flynny,

    Worth it for the image of Hinch and Stuart Spencer and the mention of the term “fruity language”.

    Ian Kenins, the bloke who did the country footy book with me, is the one who took the famous pic of Northey blasting Stynes.

  13. Peter Flynn says

    To use a term oft stated at North Geelong High School, they went ‘berko’.

  14. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Great story Flynny!

    Just great to know that even at that level the umpires are not immune from a visit from club officials to the umpires’ rooms post-match.

    At the Bushpigs in Wagga I used to visit the rooms to get the “all clear” (no reports) and invite the umps for a drink at the Red Steer. If there’s been a report I would quickly mutter all clear and scamper way – and they’d have to chase after me with the paperwork. Then, of course, over a drink with the opposition we’d work out the defence at the tribunal, usually a quid pro quo on one of their players also being reported – most commonly our player.

  15. Paul/Rocket,

    Jim Wallis is still in Quambatook, but sadly no longer a school teacher (shame) as he was a fantastic bloke, teacher and male role model for all kids at Quambatook.


  16. Has Jim Wallis ever competed in the Quambatook Tractor Pull? Did he teach Molly – was Molly from Quambatook.

    I missed this thread in my time at MCH. What a series of classic tales. Brilliant.

    Might see if we can get a Where were you for the Jim Stynes moment happening, although with the exception of Jim Stynes himself, Flynn and Reed will be hard to toss.

    To start it off here is where I was:

    The district cricket season in Brisbane used to begin in the second week of September. So I was listening while the uni third grade battled our way to about 180 on a perfect track at Uni No. 2. I reckon I got 40 at number 3 and was listening to the Prelim Final on a little trannie. Quite a few of my team-mates were interested – all barracking for Melbourne.

    I remember, later, in the beautiful spring evening wandering out to field, and standing in the slips. You could hear the radio call at the dressing sheds end, but not as easily when fielding at the far end.

    The batting side were yelling out (“another goal to the Hawthorn”) as the Hwks came back. Eventually the trannie was moved on to the field to the short long-stop position, about 10 metres behind where the Hamlet helmet is placed these days, at the sheds end.

    When the siren went we stopped the cricket game and listened for those few seconds.

    And all this in Queensland!

    PS PJF, misere was banned in the W.E.P. Harris Pavilion but Bundaberg rum wasn’t. Games of 500 would sometimes see dawn.

  17. Rocket Nguyen says

    Nice to revist this posting.

    Saw my first VFL game ever at the Junction in 1963 when the Mighty Saints cleaned up eventual premier Geelong in round 15.
    Many great duels: Ditterich v Farmer/Ross Smith v Goggin/Baldock v Peter Walker/Verdun Howell v Doug Wade/Ian Synman v Freddy Wooller/Ian Stewart on reignining Brownlow medalist Alistair Lord.
    Wonderful memories.

    As for Molly – he went to high school in Kyabram about the same time. Think the family moved to Ky from Quamby. His old man used to manage the Malvern dept store in Ky. Even then Molly was a groupie. My family ran the local motel and he was always hanging around when the pop stars like the Bee Gees, Ian Turpie and Russell Morris came to stay. His younger brother Ian became the local sports writer and later a racing journalist at the Sun News Pictorial for many years. A real chacter.

  18. The Bee Gees stayed in the Gillett family motel? Why hasn’t this been the subject of an article?

    On Russell Morris: Susan and I were invited to a party at the Czech Club in North Melbourne. Our table was right under the stage. During the night Russell Morris belted out a brllliant rendition of The Real Thing. We could have reached out and touched his G-string. Athol GUy was the host.

  19. Rocket Nguyen says

    Maurice Gibb left his stage boots behind – the cleaning lady snapped them up for her 16 year old son who played in the support band. He wore them at Hoadley Battle of the Bans comp in Ky hosted by Molly.
    The winners were the Tolpuddle Martyrs from Bendigo – not the trade unionists from Dorset in the UK.

    The Russell Morris Band played the Australia Day function in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Had a chance to meet – but as with anyone from Melbourne the converation soon turned to football and when Russell revealed he was a Tigers supporter he immediately endeared himself to my friend and fellow Almanacker Haje Halibi.

    The Real Thing is a classic. My personal fave is Wings of an Eagle. Great act.

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