The Stand is dead, long live the Stand

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

My decision to watch the Grand Re-Opening of Kardinia Park on Saturday night from the couch wasn’t a protest, but borne of necessity.

However, I had been thinking of standing outside the stadium distributing leaflets for my newly-formed community group, Bring back the Doug Wade Stand. This group includes the sub-committee, Bring Back Lamby’s Beer Shed.

Every match I have seen at Kardinia Park since 2006 has been in front of the Doug Wade Stand (sitting behind the goals). When we entered the ground last year with the stand razed, my touring party and I felt dazed and confused. (The excellent bar service in the Fred Flanagan room that day ensured we left the ground in a similar state.)

I had similar feelings when the Past Players’ stand was dismantled in 2010. This stand – a refuge to all who had pulled on the hoops over the club’s 150 years – was literally a tin shed. Stands erected on country grounds across the State were more magnificent. Yet it was sad to see such a perfect example of a facility of a bygone era make way for the modern comforts of 21st century viewing.

I still have lasting memories from those wooden benches behind the goals:

Two latecomers with tickets in hand trying to fit into a row full of people already sitting shoulder to shoulder; the argument that would ensue.

The crowd trying to mark balls from the players during their pre-game shots at goal; one father marking the footy as it was about to enter the hands of his own young son, knocking him to the ground in the process.

Richo casually standing near the fence and discussing the scoreboard with the cheer squad in 2006; the game still playing but the Tigers in front on their way to a win.

Sitting next to Kent Kingsley’s brother where, one year, the crowd maintained a running commentary on Kent’s foibles. I never felt that sorry for Kent over his career, but I felt terrible for his brother that day.

And old mate, a regular in the same area, giving it to Kent early one game before Kent responded with a bag. He’s not bad, is he? I said. One year later, while lining up for the gents at half time, having just watched Kent at his worst, old mate stood next to me. “How’s your mate going now?” he asked.

Good times – all followed by a kick on the hallowed turf, a kick outside the Barwon Club Hotel, vain attempts to retrieve the ball from the yard at mayor Fagg’s Mitre 10, and a train ride home.

Now the stand is gone, but tuning into Channel 7 on Saturday night, I was unexpectedly thrilled to see them start the telecast an hour before the game. I was disappointed that most of this coverage was devoted to the commentary team and not, oh I don’t know, interviews with the Prime Minister, Brian Cook, Colin Carter or any of the team, but the enormity of the occasion struck me.

The new stand and the ground bathed in light looked more impressive than I could have imagined. Half the ground looked like a mini-MCG; the other half a welcome reminder of the past, with stands and rooms representing different periods of the club’s history. That was the most pleasing aspect for me.

The official crowd was a bit over 30,000. But there’s probably already 45,000 claiming they were there. This will rise in time. Like one of the 1.2 million that now claim they saw Crowded House bow out at the Sydney Opera House, I’ll end up telling people I was there.

Yep, right there in the pocket where Gary kicked his goal.

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    The Past Player’s Stand lives.

    St Mary’s ground at KP.

  2. Flynny, thanks for that, that’s brightened a winter morning for me. I had no idea. I’ll check that out next time I’m in town.

  3. 50 metres or 2 of my long punts from the main gate.

    Gareth

  4. Ben Footner says:

    There are many who similarly mourn the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval here in SA Cookie.

    I am equal parts excited about the Oval redevelopment, and sad about the impact that this progress may have on the ground. \

    Thank goodness the hill and scoreboard will remain.

  5. Cookie – the whole ground looked magnificent. We have a strong hold that no other Victorian team has.

    Ablett’s goal in the last quarter is one of the most extraordinary I’ve ever seen. Matched anything his old man could conjure up.

  6. Neil Anderson says:

    Is that the same Kent Kingsley that ended up at the Dogs from Fremantle? Just had a shiver up the spine as I remembered yet another hopeful that never worked out, just when we badly needed someone to get us out of the mire.
    I think we were doomed trying to draft someone with a name more suited to Polo, Lawn Tennis or Fencing. We shoulda went for someone called Basher or Knuckles….or Buddy.

  7. Flynny and I, when considering our respective superannuation schemes, made a mental note of the PP Stand at St Mary’s as we walked past it late on Saturday night en route to the Lord of the Isles. The relocated PP Stand could be a reasonable retirement venue, although we’d probably come to blows over what constituted a fair suck of the sauce bottle.

  8. Andrew Starkie says:

    Lights: $80m tax payers money? Is that right?

  9. Hopefully the ground keeps a semblance of its heritage, as the SCG has. Shame I’ll probably never have cause to check it out though.

    RIP Past Players Members Stand, you never failed to provide me an inner chuckle.

  10. Dips,

    Must agree about the Cats unique situation with a real home ground advantage in Victoria. And yes it will remain a fortress as long as the AFL continues to schedule the big guns like the Dogs, the GWS, Port, North, the Suns, the Lions……etc. Your mob may never lose another game there again.

    Gazza’s goal was a ripper alright. Heard some smug Cat fans on Sunday saying how great the Cat fans were to give him a standing ovation (and furthermore how this would not have happened if it had involved a past player from awful clubs like Coll, Carl, Ess, Rich, Haw……etc). I just wonder how many Cat fans would have stood up and clapped if that goal was putting the Suns in front or extending their lead.

  11. Bakes, not many

  12. Bakes – none! It was certainly an ovation in context. What’s wrong with that?

    To your comment about our home ground and how we only play the “big guns” there. I guess its the same as the Pies non-travelling scenario. We are but humble servants of the AFL’s whims.

  13. Bakes, We Geelong supporters have become used to regularly beating all other teams on THEIR home grounds. As Dips says we just have to comply with the AFL’s whims on the fixture. We’d welcome the Pies, Dons, Blues, etc to OUR ground occasionally. I reckon we’d go OK.

    By the way our last game (and win) at Kardinia Park before Saturday night was against the Swans. Hardly easybeats.

  14. Neil. That was Kingsley Hunter.

  15. Luke Reynolds says:

    As a pies fan haven’t been to the footy at Kardinia Park in a long time. Was there in 2009 (I think ) to watch the Bushrangers play Queensland in a Twenty20 game in front of a full house. Would love to see Collingwood return to play in Geelong.

    The stadium looked amazing on TV. A credit to everyone involved.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t one of the “1.2 million” who claim they saw Crowded House bow out at the Opera House. Wish I was. Now just aiming for 1.2 million DVD viewings of that great event! Must be nearly halfway there….

  16. They haven’t moved the Doug Wade Stand and Lamby’s Beer Shed over to the St Mary’s ground as well have they? Can I nominate to join your committee Cookie?

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