Saturday, December 14, 2013

Trugo - Melbourne's own sport

Me write about sport when there is not a hot guy involved? Unheard of.

R's work christmas party was last week. It was in the the trugo club rooms in South Melbourne. "What is trugo?" he asked me.  "Don't you remember when we lived in Balaclava and used to catch the train to Prahran and then walk to Commercial Road to have breakfast, we passed by what was like a lawn bowling green, but there were always old men playing a game that was like croquet but with black rubber things." He does remember. The ground has long gone. I think it was in behind the Cullen Hotel, perhaps where the playground now is.

A couple of you will know what trugo is, most of you will not. I will explain. Many stories and details conflict so I will use the details I like the best, which are the most plausible.

It was a game invented by the workers at railway workshops in Yarraville in the 1920s. The workers would whack a rubber ring, something to do with the train buffers, the things where they bump against each other when carriages connect,  down the length of a train carriage. Eventually it was moved to the outside where the length of the carriage was transferred to be the length of the field and the goal was the width of an internal train door/aisle width/track gauge (believe which ever you like).

In the 1950s the game changed in that instead of side swiping the wheel, it was hit between the legs like tunnel ball, with the competitor facing away from the the goal. The mallet is made from timber and is carefully  balanced. In these more recent times trugo wheels are manufactured especially for the game.

Photo by Bohemian in Brunswick.


The were clubrooms sprinkled around the inner Melbourne suburbs and attempts were made to introduce it to the rest of the world, with an initially successful début in the Netherlands and a club survives in Sydney's Bankstown. Surviving Melbourne clubs are to be found in Ascot Vale, Brunswick, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne and Yarraville (unverified).

And the name? That was a good shot. It was a true go.

PS Between beginning to write this and publication, I have learnt that there is something about trugo at the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.


23 comments:

  1. Well you do learn something different every day.
    Merle.............

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    1. Merle, heading out to Bankstown to join up?

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  2. There is the germ of a book in this. The world of minor, unheard of sports and how they evolved.

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    1. Victor, it won't be written by me. Could be interesting though.

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  3. There's a new thing I hadn't heard of before - thanks! :)

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    1. Mal, for what used to be quite a popular game, it is not well known about.

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  4. Amazing! I had to look it up on You Tube. Just checked Melbourne weather as we're coming down tomorrow on the way to Rye. 21ºC tomorrow.... brrrr. I guess we'll hve to wait 15 minutes.

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    1. Bill, or until Thursday when it will be 38 or similar.

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  5. Not a game I had come across. Thank you.

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    1. Might be a game for my old age EC, or maybe not.

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  6. I have never heard of Trugo either.

    But I do know that all big government departments and companies have "sports" they call their own. In Bendigo, for example, I was in the CSV (state govt) indoor cricket team... which did not look remotely like cricket. But it was huge fun and the losing side bought drinks for the winning side.

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    1. Bendigo Hels? Extraordinary how you get around. Yes, I aware of indoor cricket. The balls don't hurt so badly if they hit you.

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  7. I've never heard of Trugo, which doesn't surprise me, it's a sport after all. But it looks interesting, I used to be quite good at tunnel ball whenever the teacher made us play it.

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    1. River, tunnel ball was quite good fun. I liked it.

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  8. ' ... like croquet but with black rubber things'??? That presents a VERY disturbing mental image!!!

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    1. Red, I just knew someone would pick up on the black rubber things. I just didn't think it would be you, but you do have form.

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  9. Never heard of it. Sounds... interesting...

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    1. Mitchell, kind as your comment is, I don't really find old men hitting rubber rings between their legs so fascinating.

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    2. LOL... I had an aunt who always said something was "interesting" when what she really meant was "peculiar." However, when I'm an old man I hope I'll still be able to hit rubber rings beweeeee.... Never mind.

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  10. There's one in Footscray, just on Buckley st, near the Middle Footscray station.

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    1. Thanks Rae. What I saw indicated that it had closed.

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    2. oh that's sad. It was on one of those current affair type shows a year or two back. I thought there was a resurgence. Perhaps it's closed due to all that trainline work going on in that area

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    3. I just checked. It's not because of the train line. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-04-03/last-game-of-trugo-played-at-footscray/1640358

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