Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mother and the Bulldogs

Mother does not actively follow Australian rules football, but having grown up in Melbourne, it is ingrained into her. Her team is Footscray, latterly known as the Bulldogs or the Doggies. Western Oval, Footscray's home ground, perhaps has a commercial sponsor name now. You may have guessed that I don't care for commercial names, especially not for historic places.

Mother used to get on her bicycle at Clarinda and ride to the local  bus stop. She would leave her bike and catch the bus to get to Oakleigh Railway Station. Upon her arrival at Flinders Street Station, she would change trains to get to Footscray and the Western Oval where should could see her hero Ted Whitten playing. She often stood in the mud, with rain falling.

After the game, she would get the train back into town and have an evening meal at the Classic Restaurant in Swanston Street and then go to see a movie. I suppose she was usually with friends, rather than on her own. It was then a reverse of the procedure to get home. There was no concern about her riding her bike home from the bus stop late at night.

I think I've published this photo before. I can't remember now. Mother is on your right.


  1. My link with the Western Oval is having lunch in the adjacent club house overlooking the ground one weekday in May 1973. I was on a training course with about 25 others from around Australia prior to our overseas service and we had spent the morning being driven around the western suburbs of Melbourne so that we would have some minds eye of the nature of housing in the area. No bicycles or trains for us, just a modern, at the time, coach. We also did fascinating things like visit a pet food company in Launceston. It was someone's idea of preparing us for visa work at Australian Embassies but all seems rather simple and naive now.

  2. I meant to ask you last time which footy team do you follow?, if any :-).

  3. Footscray was always a team of battlers and for battlers. They won their only premiership in 1954 and never since have they regained that star quality. So since your mother didn't live in the west, it is interesting that she barracked for this underdoggish team AND attended their home matches.

    Do you remember Ted Whitten's last drive around the MCG, just before he died? He stood up in the car, blind from cancer, but able to hear millions of people cheering him. I didn't ever like Footscray, but I was so proud of our citizens at that moment.

  4. Victor, showing you around areas where visa overstayers might live and work?

    Windsmoke, at the moment St Kilda, previously Collingwood, before that Richmond. About to change to Western Sydney. I am a bad Victorian.

    Hels, good question. I think it was because of Ted. I am not sure I saw Ted's circuit at the time, but I certainly have subsequently. It was very moving.

  5. Sounds like a great day out. Love old photos, they make everything looks fascinating :)

  6. These days there's every chance of the bike being gone if you left it anywhere for that length of time. Unless she locked it.
    I remember my school days when kids rode bikes to school and half the side yard by the gate was taken up with bike racks, all filled, none locked. Even a few bikes left right beside the gate weren't locked. I think one bike was stolen in the whole time I went to that school.

  7. They do Fen. People, have a look at Fen's photo of her late mother. Just gorgeous.

    River, it wouldn't have been locked. Yes, it would be quickly gone now. Sigh.

  8. Anonymous11:58 am

    Hi, Just came across this while looking for something else...I do like that she came from the "other side of the river" to see the games. Rare today even. FYI, they didn't re name the Western oval with a comercial name, it's now called the Whitten Oval. Great ground, open to the public, recently redeveloped but still has the old seats. now has a cafe so you can grab a coffee (or meal) while the kids/adults have shots at goal.

  9. Thanks Anon. Of course, yes, Whitten Oval. Slipped my mind. Are you a PR person for the Bulldogs, haha. If you are, you are doing a fine job.