Of Dufflecoats And Dreams

 

I remember collecting Scanlens VFL cards as a child. Seven per pack with a pink stick of chewing gum. Rip open the wrapper and wipe the residue from the gum off the top card. Swapping with mates to complete the set. I remember the duffle coats, de rigueur for the serious fan, with player’s names and numbers sewn onto every available inch; Brownlow Medalist Peter Moore, spasmodic hulk Rene Kink, Macedonian Marvel Peter Daicos. All six games played on a Saturday afternoon, always on Saturday afternoon, no twilight or early games, no Sunday games until 1981, first Sunday final was in 1984. No night games until 1985.

 

Changing platforms at Flinders Street, sprinting to make the Epping or Hurstbridge line train. Ascending from the darkness of the recently-completed City Loop into wan autumnal sunshine. Anticipation mounting as the Sherrin stand’s glorious black and white exterior came into view. Entire carriages emptying as fans poured onto the platform. Cars shoehorned into every conceivable parking space. Pervasive waft of cigarettes and beer. When the (opposition) team runs out, or they kick a goal, how’s the mighty roar? At Victoria Park there wasn’t one – they were greeted with disdainful silence or faint booing. Streamers and paper obscuring boundary line and choking goal square. Partisan crowd urging spent idols to victory. Tom Hafey returning to Victoria Park as coach of Geelong receiving a standing ovation from the Collingwood supporters.

 

Standing in the outer with my late father and a friend, later graduating to reserved seats, in the Rush stand then Sherrin stand, having the same seats for fifteen seasons. Sitting next to the same people who never missed a match, developing friendships and exchanging Christmas cards. Kicking the football on the ground after the game as a teenager until it was completely dark, unhindered by security.

 

I return to Victoria Park occasionally. Strolling on the sunny oval amongst the odd jogger and dog walker, I slowly climb the stairs to the rear of the Sherrin Stand, find my old seat, look down at the ground and reminisce.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Anna Sublet says

    Oh I feel right there with you, Cakewalk 90! Thanks for a great read and for the memories. It’s great to go back now and see a game played there. Side by side, forever.

  2. Cakewalk 90 says

    Thank you Anna for your kind, encouraging comments!
    Cheers, Cakewalk 90 / Matt

  3. george smith says

    Best memories of Vic Park: dropped by one’s parents at Ascot Vale station, then navigating the trains to the Northern Line. Arriving, of course, half way through the first quarter, but it did not matter as our boys overhauled the Weagles to set up a momentous victory (1990 Daicos 6 goals). Then playing seatlotto on the train back to Princes bridge, later platform 1 Flinders St.

    Unfurling the flag 1991 – just about to take its picture when the Collingwood doctor took it then sprinted off with it like the artful dodger. Our opponent that day, the perpetually unlucky yet annoying Fitzroy, who would exact a terrible revenge 12 years later, as the Brisbane Lions. On the train back to the city, we passed Jolimont station, which was full of Essendon supporters, and the whole carriage gave them heaps.

    Tried to get a car park within walking distance, once I parked at Rushall station and caught the train down. Of course it arrived halfway through the first quarter. Collingwood played the Swans, and they beat Capper and Picken in a gripping contest – 1985.

    First game against the Brisbane Bears. Half their side seemed to be ex Collingwood players. Most verbal abuse was directed at the showpony, Mike Richardson, but there was also Choco Williams, Philip Walsh, Geoff Raines and Gary Shaw. Beat them easily, 1987, in a year of misery for Magpies.

    Many bitter frustrating memories of trips to Melbourne in the 80s and 90s, with heavy defeats against all comers, but the ritual was the same, getting the heck out of Victoria park on the train. It just seemed that the sardine can felt much better when we won.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Collected Scanlens cards from 1987-1991. Still have them. Still haven’t completed any of those sets.

    My time attending Victoria Park was the 1990’s. Seat in the Sherrin. Loved the place. Still do. Like you I love my
    occasional trips to Vic Park. I try to go at least once a season.

    Really enjoyed this piece. Hope to read more Magpie memories from you!

  5. Cakewalk 90 says

    Thanks very much, Luke, I really appreciate your positive feedback!
    Cheers, Cakewalk 90 / Matt

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