|| ** New item from the Fitzroy Shop.**
Fitzroy BBQ Apron - $35.00
Fitzroy and ACU launching a women's team in the VFWL for 2015.
11.00 pm Sunday 8th February 2015
The Fitzroy Football Club (incorporating the Fitzroy Reds) is excited to announce that it has formed a partnership with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and together will be entering a team in the Victorian Women’s Football League, Division 4 for the 2015 season.
Fitzroy FC President, Joan Eddy said, “This is a fantastic opportunity and exciting time for our club that has such a rich and varied history having played in the VFA, VFL, AFL, VAFA and now the VWFL, the premier women’s league in the country. We are also excited about the partnership with ACU and the opportunity for the female students to be able to continue to play football.
The Fitzroy Football Club has strong a community connection and we see this team as a great pathway for the young women coming out of junior competition, particularly the Fitzroy Junior Football Club, as well as women in the inner suburban area of Melbourne who want to play football, be active and join a community club.”
ACU Sports Activity Officer, Jason Slater, said the partnership created a fantastic opportunity for students. “To create this team together with such an iconic club in Australian Rules football is really exciting. I think the students will benefit greatly from being part of a strong club culture and Fitzroy FC will love their passion for the game.”
The Club is pleased to announce that John Marshall has been appointed the inaugural coach of the team. John has over nine years coaching experience, including the past five seasons with North Ballarat Eagles in the NW Conference of the VWFL, he was Assistant Coach in 2013 and 2014 for the VWFL All Stars Representative team and for the past four season has been an Assistant Coach with Fitzroy teams (Seniors, Reserves and U19s) in the VAFA. In all John has played and coached over 350 games.
Anyone interested in playing for the Fitzroy-ACU women’s team please contact club secretary Sharon Torney on 0415 420 487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 Pre-season training well underway.
11.00 am Saturday Tuesday 27th January 2015
After the Xmas - New Year's break, Fitzroy the club continues its build-up to the 2015 season with pre-season training now well underway.
Pre-Season training re-commenced on Monday 19th January at 6.20pm at Victoria Park.
There are two football training sessions a week (Monday at Victoria Park & Wednesdays at Olney Oval at Yarra Bend) with conditioning/running sessions on Thursday evenings & Saturday morning.
The annual three day Pre-season Training Camp will be held at Portsea from Friday February 20th.
The full pre-season training schedule can be downloaded from here. (PDF - 57 KB)
Five home games in first seven rounds.
11.00 am Tuesday 27th January 2015
Fitzroy's start to the 2015 season will provide of feast of football at the traditional Brunswick Street Oval, with five home games scheduled for the first seven rounds.
Tthe Roys need to make Brunswick St a fortress as every away trip has them crossing the river. If they can do that they should be ok, but with their early matches against most higher ranked opposition, it's a tough start for Fitzroy.
Fitzroy have a difficult fist up match against the relegated Old Brighton, who won the Premier B pennant in 2013, in the season opener at Brunswick Street Oval on April 11th.
After playing away at St Kevins in Round 2, the Roys play at Brunswick Street against AJAX on Anzac Day for Round 3. The annual ANZAC day ceremony held at the ground will be especially poignant this year, given the 100th anniversary of the first landing at Gallipoli.
Three home games from Rounds 4-7 against Mazenod, Old Melburnians and St Bedes/Mentone Tigers has the potential to make or break Fitzroy's 2015 season, as the final eleven rounds will see Fitzroy travel seven times, with the final round seeing Fitzroy returning again to their former home ground at the Junction Oval to play the Old Melburnians.
Once again the Club urges all local Brisbane Lions supporters and indeed all Fitzroy supporters now following other AFL clubs to come along and support their old club's fight for a berth in next year's Premier division. The Roys have one of the larger VAFA followings, but the more support at Brunswick Street, can really make a difference to the current Royboys.
The Ciub also extends an invitation to Brisbane Lions supporters living interstate and visiting Melbourne for a Lions' match in Victoria to consider coming along before their AFL game. Brisbane play North Melbourne at 4.40 pm on Sunday 12th April, the day after Fitzroy's Round 1 home game against Old Brighton on Satuday 11th April. The weekend of Fitzroy's Round 7 home game against St Bedes/Mentone at Brunswick Street on Saturday 23rd May sees the Lions play Essendon at 1.10pm at Etihad Stadium on Sunday 24th May. On Saturday June 20th, Fitzroy host St Kevins in the Premier B Round 10 match, which will be followed later that night by the Brisbane Lions vs. Western Bulldogs game at Etihad Stdium at 7.20 pm. The Round 12 match on Saturday July 19th, Fitzroy host Caulfield Grammarians. This will be followed the next day (Sunday July 19th) by the Brisbane Lions vs. Melbourne match at the MCG at 1.10 pm.
The full 2015 Fitzroy fixture can be downloaded from here (PDF) and here (Word)
Get your Fitzroy jumpers for the 2015 season
11.00 am Tuesday January 27th 2015
With the 2015 season now not far away, it's worth reminding all Fitzroy supporters that 1996 Club Jumpers along with the 1957 Heritage jumpers, together with our clash jumper are available for purchase.
They can be purchased at the Fitzroy Shop in Mordialloc, via phone order by calling 03 9580 6464 during business hours, or on senior match days at Brunswick Street Oval, or by the online order form via our website here.
We also have stock of our very popular training singlets.
Whilst the Shop does not open for retail business until Sunday the 5th April, Mail Orders are being processed over the Summer break.
The jumpers are just $110 each for long sleeved jumpers and $105 for sleeveless jumpers and are in stock now. They are the traditional knitted with collar jumper, as modelled by former Fitzroy players, Jim O'Reilly and Luke Ablett (pictured above).
Fitzroy guernseys are the fashion item that never goes out of style!
Not only are they seen on football grounds in Melbourne every Saturday during winter they are also seen in other football settings as far away as Brisbane and Perth.
It's even rumoured that the Queen has a Fitzroy jumper stored away somewhere in Buckingham Palace ever since she, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne witnessed an VFL match between Fitzroy and Richmond on Sunday 5th April 1970, (the first ever VFL game on a Sunday and the only one to be played in front of a reigning monarch.)
And why wouldn't she? It's no accident that the colours of the royal standard match the red blue and gold colours of Fitzroy. On that memorable day in one of the best football matches seen for decades, in terms of the technical skills displayed by both teams, Fitzroy went on to defeat the more fancied Richmond 16.20 (116) to 14.12 (96).
Fitzroy jumpers can also be seen all over the world. They've been seen at the 2013 Tour de France (pictured above) and along the Great Wall of China, so they make a great travel accessory as well.
Order yours now!
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Former Fitzroy player appointed assistant coach for 2015.
11.00 am Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Fitzroy is excited to announce the appointment of Nick Mitchell as the Senior Assistant Coach for 2015. Nick joins the club with a strong history in the VAFA having played at St Bernards, Old Geelong Football Club and recently in the West Brunswick 2014 premiership team. Nick also brings a wealth of coaching knowledge and experience having been Assistant Coach at St Bernards, where he took over the Senior Coach position with seven rounds to go and avoiding relegation as well as Senior Coach at Old Geelong. During 1994-1995 Nick played nine games with Fitzroy in the AFL. We look forward to Nick's contribution to the senior coaching team in 2015.
The Club is also excited to welcome back Tim Bell as the U19 coach for 2015. Tim is a Life Member and former player with the University Reds; he is also the inaugural Fitzroy Reds U19 coach taking numerous teams to finals and winning a number of U19 Premierships for the club, the last being in 2010 which saw the club move up into the Under 19 Premier competition. Tim also has experience with the Calder Cannons U15 development squad an din 2011 was Senior coach at Fitzroy. We look forward to Tim's contribution to the club's coaching team.
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Ross Thornton elected to Brisbane Lions board.
11.00 am Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Former Fitzroy player Ross Thornton has been elected to the Brisbane Lions’ Board of Directors following a member vote that also saw the Club’s four incumbents – Leigh Matthews, Mick Power, Andrew Wellington, and Peter McGregor – re-elected with overwhelming support.
Thornton, a former best and fairest winner with Fitzroy, becomes the second Life Member to sit on the current Board along with three-time premiership coach Matthews.
Along with his glowing football resume, which includes 146 senior games (from 1980-89) and a brief coaching stint with Fitzroy, Thornton has proven just as successful in business having spent the past 17 years with McDonald’s. He currently operates two restaurants – one in Keysborough and one in Parkmore.
Thornton’s election means that the Club now boasts two Melbourne-based Directors, with McGregor the other representative of the Brisbane Lions’ Victorian members.
Ross is a current Fitzroy member and supporter of the Club, now competing in the Premier B section of the VAFA.
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The AFL's most successful club - Fitzroy.
11.00 am Tuesday 23rd December 2014
West Coast of 2005-2007 had everything: more money than a club could ever spend, a waiting list for sponsors and members, facilities and untold fans, who, for a long time, refused to believe their sunny boys would misbehave.
Old Fitzroy didn't have a home - it flipped from one training and playing venue to another, forever seeking a lenient landlord. It was perennially in debt, struggling to pay players. Matt Rendell, who captained the Roys from 1985-87, recalled that he wasn't paid for an entire season. "They asked me, 'Can we pay you in June next year?'," said Rendell, who accepted the club's indecent proposal.
Fitzroy had nothing. The club eventually folded - or was folded into Brisbane, depending on your viewpoint. Yet, the players of Rendell's era - essentially, the 1980s, inclusive of the early '90s - are exerting more influence on the AFL competition today than any other diaspora. Even Hawthorn, which won five flags over that stretch, hasn't spread its tentacles, in off-field terms, like the deceased club. And the absence of a premiership - and, indeed, of an actual club - has not prevented the Roys of the '80s and '90s from maintaining a special, lasting bond.
On the weekend of the Victoria Derby, about 10 Royboys from that period congregated at the beach home of teammate Jimmy Wynd in Blairgowrie, in what is an annual, informal gathering of ex-Fitzroy players. Ross Lyon, who retains strong bonds with a number of teammates, was joined by Rendell, the poetic Tim Pekin, Michael "Butch" Gale (brother of Richmond's CEO, Brendon), Jason Baldwin, Duane Rowe, David Strooper, Wynd and Brett "Moose" Stephens, the '80s and '90s defender best known for his stint as fitness adviser to tennis legend Pete Sampras.
Consider the impact of the Fitzroy boys on the game. Lyon and his mate Paul Roos are big time coaches. Ken Hinkley - who really made his name at Geelong - started with Rossy and Roosy at Fitzroy in the mid '80s. The club has also spawned three contemporary club chief executives - Gary Pert (Collingwood), Keith Thomas (Port Adelaide) and Carl Dilena (North). Michael Nettlefold (former CEO of St Kilda) technically qualifies though he was really reared in the madness of Moorabbin.
Rendell is an ex-assistant coach and prominent recruiter, discarded by Adelaide and ensconced at Collingwood. Scott Clayton (Gold Coast) is likewise a leader in the recruiting/list management trade. John Blakey - who became a dual premiership player and 350-gamer at North, is a senior assistant coach at Sydney, while Fitzroy's foremost '80s cult figure, the muscular Mick Conlan, is the chief executive of AFL Queensland, after a successful stint as a Nike executive. Alastair Lynch, who famously took up a 10-year deal to leave Fitzroy, is a prominent Foxtel commentator, one-time player manager and heads up a business aimed at helping men's health.
Leon Harris heads up country division of development for the AFL, David Noble is head of football for the Adelaide Crows, Matthew Armstrong is the high performance manager of AFL Tasmania. Alan McConnell, (who didn't play but was twice a caretaker coach of the dying Roys), is an assistant coach at Greater Western Sydney. Note that the Fitzroy alumni cover all the football bases - coaching, administration, recruiting/list management and development. Their reach also extends far beyond football. Jamie Cooper, for instance, has been a successful artist (and does football portraits exceedingly well).
Fitzroy's class of the '80s and early '90s did not taste what the football cliche classifies as "the ultimate success". The notion that ultimate success for players is only measured in premierships seems ridiculous, given what these individuals accomplished after the (very small) crowds stopped cheering.
West Coast won a premiership in 2006, but which reunion would have the happier vibe - the relevant Roys, or the 2006 Eagles? Life has been harsh on a handful of West Coast players, who've endured drug problems and skirmishes, if not shirt-fronts, with the law. In the same month that the Fitzroy boys gathered in Blairgowrie, Daniel Kerr - an outstanding player so instrumental in that flag - was released on bail on a serious charge. Kerr allegedly poured a flammable liquid into a house, threatening to light it while two people were inside.
Thus, the fallen Eagles' plot line was no longer centred largely on Ben Cousins, since Daniel Chick (importing steroids), Adam Hunter (drug possession), Chad Fletcher (drug possession) and now Kerr have all faced charges of one sort or another. The Eagles spent three years repairing their culture - to the detriment of their ladder position - and are a completely different organisation today.
Collingwood's issues with player behaviour, substances and "culture" were less dramatic than West Coast's, but it has been acknowledged within the Westpac Centre that the club also had a post-premiership problem that extended into 2012; interestingly, neither West Coast nor the Pies sustained success in the manner of Geelong and Hawthorn, each of whom had self-motivated player groups that merely smelt the roses, without inhaling too heavily.
Fitzroy's '80s players didn't have proper weights, much less altitude rooms, pools and theatres. Rendell reckons the hardship and "shit environment", relative to other clubs, compelled those players to become self-reliant. "It was born out adversity," he said. "You look after each other. You don't survive unless you look after each other."
The players were on the brink of being sent to Brisbane after 1986 (all but two voted to go before the club opted to stay) and were slated to merge with Footscray in 1989. "Every year, there was conjecture over where we were going."
Rendell compared his influential Fitzroy cohort to the similarly spartan North teams of that time that spawned Andrew Demetriou, Alastair Clarkson, John Longmire, Ben Buckley (ex-AFL commercial chief and Football Federation Australia boss), Mark Brayshaw and a number of successful people in business and football. "I reckon North were the same."
Fitzroy's players were "empowered", decades before the term became ubiquitous - which, coincidentally, was around the time Roos was coaching the ugly Swans of 2005-6. In part, Fitzroy's empowerment was of necessity - if you didn't do it yourself, it didn't happen. But Rendell and Scott Clayton credit their formative coach, the schoolteacher Robert Walls, for handing responsibility to his players.
"Robert Walls' legacy is huge," said Clayton. "He was 20 years [ahead] of his time. He empowered the group before we knew what empowerment was." Clayton also highlighted the influence of Ron Alexander, his first captain and the inaugural West Coast coach.
Clayton and Rendell concurred that '80s football manager Arthur Wilson's recruiting had been important, while Walls forged the culture of self-reliance. "Arthur Wilson recruited good people," said Clayton. David Parkin inherited Walls' team and took it to a preliminary final in '86; Parkin has often singled out that '86 Fitzroy group as the one that extracted the most from itself - including premiership teams - that he coached.
The 1987 team, which didn't make finals, adorns the wall of the Napier Hotel in Fitzroy, a small shrine for this fallen club. You can see a spiky-haired Cooper sitting down next to a youthful Lyon, with Clayton and Pert grinning on each side of Roos. Rendell has a wry smile alongside Parkin, with whom he clashed; the unrecognisable clean-shaven fellow next to Doug Barwick (Collingwood premiership player to be) is Thomas, the man who has overseen, with Hinkley and David Koch, the revival of Port.
Where are they now? Everywhere.
When Clayton was asked how he viewed his time as a Fitzroy player, the response was swift. "Proudly."
Stranded at a club scant of resources, these self-starters have gone forth and spread strands of Fitzroy DNA across the competition, the game and other spheres. "It was our club," said Clayton. "That's the point."
Courtesy of Jake Niall - The Sunday Age
** Since the publication of this article, former Fitzroy Best and Fairest Ross Thornton was also elected onto the board of the Brisbane Lions. See story above.
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Luke Ablett wants to combat the culture of violence.
11.00 am Tuesday 23rd December 2014
PREMIERSHIP Swan and former Fitzeroy player Luke Ablett traded footballing glory to fight violence in Vanuatu — now he is calling on others to experience the rewards of volunteering.
Ablett, 32, is also hoping for a future in other international trouble spots in his quest to become a humanitarian worker, a far cry from his days as an AFL footballer.
But first he has plenty to achieve in Melbourne, taking some of the experiences he gained in the South Pacific to address gender-based violence in his home city.
In August Ablett returned from a year in Port Vila with Australian Volunteers for International Development, supported by Australian Red Cross, and became heavily involved in trying to reverse a culture of violence among young men.
Now backing White Ribbon Day, Step Back and Think and other projects in Melbourne, Ablett used Volunteers Day this week to underline the importance non-paid experiences can have in shaping a future.
“I was working with the AFL at the time and was clearly just ready for a change after doing footy for a long time, since I was 16 years old,” Ablett said.
“Volunteering is a really grounding experience. It’s a great way to see the world, try to do some good and improve yourself.”
Ablett will also continue pushing to end gender-based violence in Australia, hoping his background in the AFL will help to connect with men who most need to heed the message.
“This is not about man-bashing ... but there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we create men and how we expect men to behave,” Ablett said.
“That is the field I want to move into and stay involved in.
“As a footy player, someone who has come from a blokey culture, but still being able to care about other people and talk about what it means to be a man and have a relationship with your girlfriend."
Herald Sun 12th December 2014
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Coaching vacancies in 2015.
1.00 pm Saturday 18th October 2014
The Fitzroy Football Club are seeking coaches for 2015. The good news is that Michael Pickering (pictured left) will be continuing as Senior Coach in 2015.
Unfortunately Senior Assistant Coach John LeGrand has decided not to continue with the club in 2015 due to work and family commitments. The club wishes to thank John for all his hard work during 2014 and all he brought to the club - we'd also like to say we're going to miss Max at the games too!
Ryan Aisbett (Reserves) and Joe Atkinson (Thirds) have both indicated that they're wanting to pull the boots on again in 2015 (both were injured in 2014). We thank them both for their hard work and commitment during 2014.
We'd also like to express our thanks to Bruce Edwards who is taking a break from coaching. Bruce joined the club in 2011 as the U19 Premier coach and in 2012 took on the Reserves who went through the entire season undefeated, including finals and the flag. In 2013 he coached the U19s who were back in Section 2 and took them to a flag and was U19 coach during 2014.
So if you're interested or you know someone who might be interested in a coaching role please check out this advertisement.
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Fitzroy Winners are Grinners.
9.00 am Thursday 9th October 2014
The 2014 Redlow was held at the San Remo Ballroom for the first time on a Saturday afternoon. The Club took the opportunity to thank all of the wonderful volunteers who help each of our four teams each week throughout the season; without their valuable assistance we wouldn’t be able to field the teams.
The afternoon began with the Thirds where coach Joe Atkinson presented the Coach’s Award to Dwayne Bulmer. At the end of round 15, where we began the count, Lachlan Henderson lead the Thirds count with 85 votes ahead of Owain Dunne on 56. Not much changed over the next three rounds with the Tim Madden Perpetual Trophy awarded to Lachlan Henderson who finished on 96 votes and Owain Dunne presented the Runner Up trophy finishing on 56.
The U19s were next with Bruce Edwards presenting the Coach’s Award to Isaac Wattis. At the end of round 15, Nathan Ligris lead the count with 90 votes closely followed by Luke Edwards on 84. After all votes were counted Nathan Ligris was presented the Stephen Drury Perpetual Trophy with 118 votes with Luke Edwards awarded the Runner Up trophy with 106 votes.
Next was the Reserves with coach Ryan Aisbett presenting the Coach’s Award to Richard Willingham. At the end of round 15, Jono Anderson had polled 57 votes and was closely followed by Drew Olarenshaw with 56. Voting remained close but Jono finished with 70 votes and presented the Marc Marsden Perpetual Trophy to Jono Anderson with Drew Olarenshaw receiving the Runner Up trophy with 65 votes.
The final count for the day was the Seniors where the Marsden - Moriarty Superboot Trophy for leading goal kicker was presented to Daniel Bisetto. Michael Pickering presented the Coach’s Award to Max Ellis. The Seniors count began at the end of round 12 with Daniel Bisetto leading on 56 votes and Matt Brown with 50 votes. At the end of round 15 the votes were very close with Rory Angiolella and Matt Kyroussis both on 59 votes and Daniel Bisetto on 56 votes. The voting stayed close with Matt Kyroussis polling nine votes in the last round which gave him the lead of 75 votes and being presented with the Greg Roughsedge Perpetual Trophy. Rory Angiolella was presented with the Runner Up trophy finishing with 67 votes.
We also acknowledged player milestones with trophies presented to the following players who during the 2014 season played their 50th game with the club Maxim Allen, Jono Anderson, Trent Coleman, Nick Marshall, Tim De Natris, Raph Lloyd and Nathan Ligris. We also presented trophies to Jack Atkinson, Max Ellis and Will Johnson acknowledging their 100th game with the club.
The other award presented was the Club Person Award which this year was presented to David Barnes. David has been a volunteer with the club for a number of years and for those who are at our Reserves games will know him as our goal umpire. David is at home games early helping set up for the Reserves and occasionally at home games gets behind the BBQ to help Kerry out while doing the live scores.
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Fitzroy seeds re-sewn.
8.30 pm Thursday 9th October 2014
As part of the 1997 AFL merger, eight Fitzroy players – Brad Boyd, Jarrod Molloy, Nick Carter, Chris Johnson, Simon Hawking, John Barker, Shane Clayton, and Scott Bamford – headed up to Brisbane to form part of the new-look Lions.
At the time, the ‘Fitzroy eight’ only represented around 20% of the merged Club’s inaugural squad, with the remainder made up from Brisbane Bears.
After just two seasons, only Boyd, Molloy, and Johnson remained.
Boyd was forced into retirement one year later, while Molloy was traded to Collingwood at the end of 2000.
That left Chris Johnson as the sole survivor of the ‘Fitzroy eight’, although Alastair Lynch also proved a strong link to the Club’s Victorian heritage.
There was, however, the emergence of another pivotal Fitzroy figure in Jonathan Brown – the son of Brian who played 51 games for the Lions in the late 70s and early 80s – while 1996 Fitzroy best and fairest Martin Pike also made a welcome return to the Lions at the end of 2000.
Johnson, Lynch, Pike and Brown would all famously go on to share in three successive premierships, which helped solidify the Club’s Fitzroy links.
But it was inevitable that time would ensure that no former Fitzroy players – or Bears for that matter – remained at the Club. The Club would eventually be made up only of ‘Brisbane Lions’ players.
Lynch ultimately bowed out in 2004, Pike followed the year after, and Johnson made history as the last ever Fitzroy player still on an AFL list, before pulling the pin himself in 2007.
Brown has since proven the sole beacon of Fitzroy’s AFL genealogy – that was until injury forced him into retirement midway through the 2014 season.
But just when some fans feared that Fitzroy’s bloodlines would run dry in Brown’s absence, along came Josh Clayton…
Clayton, the son of former Fitzroy best and fairest Scott Clayton, was selected by the Club at Monday’s Father-Son bidding meeting and will form part of the team’s senior list in 2015.
The 18-year-old becomes just the second Father-Son player (after Brown) selected by the Lions from 'old' Fitzroy.
Better yet, the Sandringham Dragons utility is a passionate Lions supporter – virtue of the fact his father not only played with Fitzroy, but was also a successful Recruiting Manager for the Bears/Lions.
“I’ve gone for the Lions my whole life, so to be selected is a great privilege,” Clayton said.
“As a Lions supporter as a kid, it’s great to be at the Club you hold so dear. It’s pretty surreal, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Clayton’s comments – particularly the part about “the Club he holds so dear” – will resonate with many of the old Fitzroy faithful.
And they needn’t pin ALL their hopes on the promising teenager either, with the likes of Matt Rendell, Leon Harris, and Alastair Lynch, all boasting talented sons who may well follow in their father’s footsteps as well in the future.
Courtesy of the Brisbane Lions
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Turner has Lions' support.
8.00 pm Thursday 9th October 2014
Proudly sporting the number 47 on his guernsey, Julian Turner is a young gun who has worked his way up the ranks at the Fitzroy Football Club in Melbourne’s inner suburbs.
A former winner of Fitzroy Colts’ U17 Player of the Year award in 2008, Turner has developed into a utility with excellent goal sense and good overhead ability, who can be used as a key target up forward or as a running wingman.
Despite missing some of the season’s last few games with an injury, the youngster has shown much promise – breaking his way into Fitzroy’s senior team in the VAFA and earning the right as a permanent fixture on the field.
This has garnered Turner a respectful nod from the Brisbane Lions, their endorsement of which has granted him sponsorship for a second year running.
As part of the continued relationship with the VAFA side, the Lions sponsor one of Fitzroy FC’s players each year.
The sponsorship program is a valuable one for the amateur players, with Turner appreciative of the Lions’ support.
“When I heard that I was being sponsored by the Brisbane Lions, it was such a load off,” Turner said.
“Having that support is really positive. It’s another thing that makes you want to try harder and play better.
“I’m really grateful and just happy to be part of it.”
With some more time spent in the gym over the pre-season, Julian has the talent to become a quality midfielder and an integral part of the team’s structure for the upcoming 2015 season.
Courtesy of the Brisbane Lions
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The Face of Fitzroy
9.00 pm Friday 26th September 2014
Gabrielle Murphy closed the season by profiling one of Fitzroy's most loyal supporters
As a suburb and a club, Fitzroy has revelled in glory and suffered the darkest of days. But through all the ups and downs and the challenges thrown at it, Fitzroy is a thriving force and in terms of its footy club, can claim something no other team in the Ammos can boast – a heritage and loyal band of supporters who, like Lindsay Shaw, keep the spirit of the Maroon and Blues alive.
Lindsay – along with his son Stephen, daughter Terri, granddaughter Stacee and other members of his extended family – are fixtures at Fitzroy games. Rarely missing a game at home, and often making it to the away games, they travel from far afield to catch the Roys in action, Lindsay from Heidelberg Heights, Steve from Mill Park and Terri from Wondong.
“All my life, as long as I can remember, I’ve gone to see the Roys,” says Lindsay. “When they were forced out I was not happy. It seemed to me we’d fallen to the bottom of the chasm.”
In the old days, Lindsay’s journey to the Brunswick Street Oval was only a short walk from his home in Kerr Street, hand in hand with his father, a local bootmaker, and his uncle. He recalls watching brilliant rover and larger-than-life character Allan Ruthven taking all before him, Bert Clay dominating in the ruck and Eddie Hart, a local boy from Fitzroy Central School (now Fitzroy High) whom Lindsay nicknamed Autumn Leaves, because he was continually falling down.
“But these days”, he says, “I follow the boys as a team.”
He comes with his fabulous smile and a ready flow of jokes that always make you laugh.
According to Lindsay, watching today’s Roy Boys is seeing football at its best. “The company, the dogs, the little kids…I just love the family feel.”
“Win or lose, I’m happy…well not happy that they lose, just happy to be there.”
Photo: Lindsay Shaw, captured by club photographer Phyllis Quealy at this year’s game against Old Haillebury at Princes Park in South Caulfield.
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Fitzroy FC goes back to school.
9.00 pm Friday 12th September 2014
The season may have drawn to an early finish for the Fitzroy Football Club this year, but the club is wasting no time attempting to recruit some fresh young talent for their 2015 campaign. On Friday August 22, senior Fitzroy players Tom Cheshire, Ross Borland, Daniel Bisetto, Richard Willingham and Jack Beech joined forces with the team’s Junior Football Club coaches, Jo Hogan and Steve Earl.
Together they headed down to Fitzroy’s Sacred Heart Primary School to run a football clinic for over 60 of the school’s students. Many of the children come from a diverse cultural background, from countries including Sudan, China and Vietnam and are residents of the next-door Atherton Housing Estate for underprivileged families.
The clinic at first seemed like a daunting task for the Fitzroy team, as the children ran around at recess, with not an Aussie Rules football in sight. However, as the coaches began to set up training drills on the now-converted soccer pitch, the first group of students took the field, and their enthusiasm for the oval ball was infectious.
Fitzroy Girl’s Under 12’s coach, Jo Hogan, spoke of the importance of the day’s clinic: “The way we develop footy is about community, and it’s about Fitzroy, and it’s about engaging people, and there was an opportunity here to come down and bring some footies and actually give the kids a chance to have a go, so it’s like they belong to something.
“They live on the best strip in Melbourne; Brunswick Street, and we want to engage these kids to be able to try out the Australian cultural game. Out of today, what’s happened is we’re going to have a look at what sort of Auskick clinics we could set up with them, what kind of junior clinics we can do, and so we can do it down here.
“We’ve identified what we need to do to be able to have these kids access football. Part of it is about transportation and safety; the parents are able to watch from here, so we might actually bring the game to them and get them to belong so that they’re building up their confidence, learning some basic skills but also then learning about teamwork and that’s a very important thing.”
The Fitzroy Football Club know full well the importance and benefits of getting the kids involved in the game from an early age, with many of their current senior players having started in their junior competition in years gone by.
A large number of girls also participated in the clinic, which provided them with a perfect introduction to a football environment; a perfect opportunity given the recent establishment of the Roy Girls’ Junior Football Club.
“The kids just had a fabulous day enjoying [footy] in the sunshine. And I think one of the great keys of this is that the school is involved, because if we can have the school, along with the housing area, and utilising the council ground, then we get a holistic approach to develop a community, and that’s what the community model is about.”
Article and Photo by James Nice
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Fitzroy's 2014 season concludes with 38 point loss to Ajax.
9.00 pm Saturday 23rd August 2014
After a bright first half of the season where Fitzroy reached as high as third on the Premier B ladder, and appeared a real chance to participate in finals, the Club's 2014 season has come to a disappointing end with a 38 point loss to Ajax at the Gary Smorgon Oval.
Ajax led for most of the day, opening up a seven point lead in windy conditions at the first break. Will Johnson kicked a fanastic running goal from long range. Jack Dalton kicked the other goal. Nick Marshall played a great first quarter running off half back.
However Ajax kicked three unanswered goals in the second quarter, including one after the final siren to open a twenty six point lead that while not insurmountable, was going to prove a herculean task to over-take.
The Roys tried through. They outscored Ajax in the third quarter kicking five goals to four, but inaccuracy cost them the chance to be closer. Baker kicked two goals while Meakin, Slavic and Dalton kicked one each Nevetheless the stronger showing in that quarter gave the Fitzroy faithful some hope that the 18 point deficit could be overcome.
However it was not to be, In what was clearly the scoring end, Ajax kicked away, putting through four majors to Fitzroy's one in the last. Antony Harbor kicked Fitzroy's final goal of the game.
Final scores were: Ajax 14.14.98 defeated Fitzroy 8.12.60 by 38 points.
Every cloud has a silver lining however, with Fitzroy avoiding relegation by a game. The Club will suit up again for 2015 for its' third season in Premier B, where it is hoped they can make a real claim on a place in the Premier division of the VAFA for the 2016 season. Old Haileybury and Old Ivanhoe will be relegated from Prekier B to Premier C for the 2015 season to be replaced by St Bedes/Mentone and Old Brighton from the Premier division. Two of the University Blues, St Kevins, Old Carey and Old Melburnians will be promoted to the Premier League for the 2015 season, while two of Premier C's, Marcellin, Hampton Rovers, Monash Blues and Parkdale Vultures will be visiting the Brunswick Street Oval in 2015.
Earlier, an inaccurate Reserves side lost their match against Ajax by 10 points. Fitzroy 5.10.40 were defeated by Ajax 7.8.50. The Fitzroy Reserves also missed out on the finals finishing 7th with 6 wins.
The Fitzroy Thirds will keep the Roys flag flying in this years final series with a third placed finish at the end of the home and away rounds with 11 wins. Their final round match against third placed St Kevins was for the double chance, but unfortunately the Thirds went down by 18 points at the T. H. King Oval, dropping to third place on percentage. Hopes are still high the team can go deep into the final series and participate on VAFA Grand Final day. Final scores were St Kevins 9.13.67 to Fitzroy 7.7.49. Next week Fitzroy will play Beaumaris in the first semi final with the loser of that match eliminated.
The U19's side needed a win to secure their place in this years finals. Unfortuinately in the final round they came up against second placed University Blues. Outclassed, the Fitzroy U/19s lost by 85 points.
Final scores were: University Blues 19.11.125 defeated Fitzroy 5.10.40. Best Players for Fitzroy were: L. Edwards, N. Ligris, B. McDonald, L. Grace, O. Ishak and P. Gaynor, while the Goal Kickers were: B. McDonald with 2 and L. Edwards, W. Zaghis, L. Grace who each kicked one. The U19s finished fifth on the U/19 Section 2 ladder, just outside the Final Four on percentage.
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Fitzroy Best and Fairest Retrospective Dinner.
9.00 pm Saturday 23rd August 2014
A sold out crowd of 600 packed into the Moonlight Receptions function centre in Melbourne on Thursday night [21st August] to honour Fitzroy’s former Best and Fairest winners at the annual Historical Society Museum Dinner.
The star-studded guest list included some of our Club's greatest players including Kevin Murray, Garry Wilson, John Murphy, Alastair Lynch, Martin Pike, Ross Thornton, Matt Rendell, Scott Clayton, Gary Pert, Darren Kappler, Brad Boyd, Ron Alexander, Warwick Irwin, Harvey Merrigan, and Norm Brown, along with a host of descendants of those former Club Champions who have since passed.
The night was an overwhelming success, and further proved that the spirit of Fitzroy is still very much alive in Melbourne.
Credit must go to Arthur Wilson and the entire Historical Society committee, who worked tirelessly in helping put the function together, and ensuring that enough funds were being raised to help maintain and improve the Fitzroy Museum at Etihad Stadium.
You can view the official photos, such as the one above showing Alisatair Lynch receiving his retrospective Best and Fairest Medal, from the event by visiting the Happy Medium Photos website – using the access code bl2108.
Long-time Fitzroy and Brisbane Lions member Sam Marasco probably best summed the night up with a terrific poem that he presented to the passionate crowd, before later sharing it on SEN Radio:
Tonight we pay tribute to
Our Club Champions of yesteryear
We applaud and salute them
And give them a mighty cheer
The retrospective best and fairests
Won by all these Fitzroy stars
Will be talked about forever
In all the clubs and bars
Bill Stephen, the elder statesman
A Club figure so large
Handballs to the Legend Kevin Murray whose
Nine best and fairests leads the charge
Norm Brown, the tireless follower
With his strength and guile
Taps the ball to John Murphy, who dashes
Through the centre and goals in style
Harvey Merrigan, a full-back
So well respected
Kicks long to Warwick Irwin, whose
Dash and poise was always protected
Ron Alexander, fearless and dominant
With his uncompromising ruck play
Shepherds the crumbing Garry Wilson, whose
Unique skills were always on display
Ross Thornton’s back-pocket work
Kept the resting rovers at bay
Scott McIvor’s skill and resilience
Often saved the day
Darren Kappler’s burning pace
And raking left-foot kick
Alastair Lynch’s courage and tenacity
Was the spark that made the Lions click
Paul Roos’ all round brilliance and ability
To kick the winning goal
Gary Pert, the prototype full-back
Was an ornament in his role
Brad Boyd led from the front
To the Club’s final day [inthe AFL]
Martin Pike went to North and Brisbane
Picking up four flags along the way
Matt Rendell and Scott Clayton
Host the after-match at Lord Jim’s pub
Let’s all raise our glasses
And embrace these champions of our Club!
Thanks to Sam Lord and the Brisbane Lions.
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Leon Wiegard to speak at final President's Luncheon.
7.00 pm Saturday 9th August 2014
Don't miss guest speaker Leon Weigard and MC Daniel Bisetto on August 16
Fitzroy’s final President’s Luncheon of 2014 is bound to be a fantastic event, thanks to our guest speaker life member of Fitzroy, Leon Weigard, the former Fitzroy Football Club President, AFL Life Member, Olympian and 3AW presenter.
Leon Wiegard's Fitzroy connections are well known. As one of our Club's life members, Leon was President of Fitzroy during what was a roller coaster ride for the club through the eighties and early nineties.
While never having represented Fitzroy in a senior game, Leon's elder brother Keith played 32 senior games for Fitzroy and was President of Fitzroy between 1981 and 1984. Leon himself became a member of the Fitzroy committee in 1981, the year after his brother Keith became President of Fitzroy, a position he held until 1984. Leon became President of Fitzroy on January 20th 1985 and the year after was at the helm when Fitzroy reached the preliminary final the follwing year in 1986.
Nevertheless Leon's tenure as President was marred by continuing financial pressure. Leon and Stuart Spencer of Melbourne negoitated a possible merger which came within a couple of days of being formally recommended to each clubs' membership. And of course it was Leon who despite meeting the senior list on a Wesley College tennis court and getting their approval for a cliub relocation to Brisbane, decided in the end to keep the club in Melbourne, on the basis of a deal with Hecron.
Leon resigned as President in 1991, but remained a great supporter of Fitzroy, speaking at the Club on a number of occasions, including this coming Saturday.
Our very special MC for the day is injured Fitzroy favourite Daniel Bisetto, who’ll host the lunch which kicks off at 11:30am for 12 noon at the Clifton Hill/Fitzroy North Community Rooms at Brunswick St Oval on the Fitzroy v Old Melburnians match day.
Cost per head is $40, which includes a two-course buffet lunch and drinks at bar prices. Bookings must be made by Wednesday August 13.
Download the booking flyer here.
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Brave comeback falls short by four points.
4.45 pm Saturday 9th August 2014
Fitzroy has fallen short by four points in coming back from a 41 point deficit at half time in their away match against Old Ivanhoe.
It was an even first quarter with both sides managing to score a goal each and with Ivanhoe holding a slender two point lead at quarter time.
However kicking with the wind in the second quarter Old Ivanhoe slammed on six goals to take a 41 point lead into the main break and matters looked bleak for the Roys.
The score at half time was Old Ivanhoe 7.7.49 Fitzroy 1.2.8.
With the breeze at their backs, Fitzroy cut thirty points from the deficit in the third quarter to draw within eleven points of Old Ivanhoe at the final break. Fitzroy scored five goals to none in the third quarter and restricted Old Ivanhoe to just two behinds in a complete reversal of the second quarter.
However despite outscoring Old Ivanhoe in the last by seven points it just wasn't quite enough.
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves lost by 55 points to Old Ivanhoe. Fitzroy scored 6.5.41 but could not stop Old Ivanhoe running over the top of them in kicking 15.6.96.
In other games today the Thirds play Old Xaverians at 2pm at Elsternwick Park Oval 2, Elsternwick. No scores through from this game yet.
The Under 19s play Mazenod at 2pm at Brunswick St Oval. No scores available as yet.
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Fitzroy's finals hopes fade.
9.00 am Sunday 3rd August 2014
A 49 point loss to St Kevins Old Boys at the Brunswick Street Oval yesterday has seen Fitzroy's final hopes fade. Coming off a devastating 101 point loss to premiership contender Old Carey the week before, Fitzroy desperately needed to repeat their early season result against St Kevins with a good win to keep in touch with the Final Four.
However the writing was on the wall for Fitzroy from the first quarter when under bright sunny skies when Fitzroy trailed by 20 points. after St Kevins kicked four goals to Fitzroy's one.
Fitzroy kept themselves in touch in the second quarter matching St Kevin's output, but just couldn't close the first quarter gap. Nevertheless it was clear the Royboys were willing to try and take it up to the opposition, with some pushing and shoving between both sides after Dylan Patcas was taken off injured.
The third quarter was almost a carbon copy of the first. St Kevin's piled on four goals to Fitzroy's solitary goal to take a 38 point lead at the final break. A spectcular goal by Julian Turner in the final quarter wasn't enough to inspire a Fitzroy comeback and at the final siren it was St Kevin's 14.9.93 to Fitzroy's 6.8.44. St Kevins by 49 points.
Goal Kickers: M. Cussen 2, J. Turner , D. Pound-Palmieri , W. Fenton , D. Patcas
Best Players: R. Angiolella , W. Fenton , D. Patcas , M. Kyroussis , S. Green , J. Meakin
With three rounds to go, Fitzroy now occupy seventh position on the Premier B ladder three games ahead of the relegation zone, but also two games and 30% outside the Final Four.
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves 4.2.26 had a difficult day when they lost their match to St Kevins 15.10.100 by 74 points, which unfortunately has significantly dented their finals chances as well. The Reserves are currently seventh, two games out of the Four with three rounds to play.
Reserves Goal Kickers: B. Farley 2, C. Evans , J. Beech
Reserves Best Players: D. Olarenshaw , A. Franklin , J. Anderson , R. Willingham , J. Murray , B. Farley
In a better result, Fitzroy's Thirds 11.14.80 defeated Old Brighton 4.9.33 and in doing so, booked their place in the finals for this season. The Thirds are currently second on the ladder, behind Old Xaverians and two games ahead of third placed St Kevins Old Boys.
Fitzroy U/19's also had a bad loss to Old Trinity. The U/19s kicked 4.10.34 to Old Trinity's 16.14.110 to lose by 76 points. The loss sees Fitzroy lose their position in the Four. The Fitzroy U/19's currently lie in fifth position on the U/19 Section 2 ladder with 10 wins, with only 15% seperating them and fourth placed Parkdale.
U/19 Goal Kickers: L. Edwards 2, J. Hill , B. McDonald
U/19 Best Players: , N. Ligris , N. Gibbons , T. Robinson , B. McDonald , J. Hill , C. Breheny
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Second half fade sees Fitzroy lose to Mazenod.
4.45 pm Saturday 19th July 2014
After an even first half where Fitzroy only trailed by a point, the Roys have faded badly in the second half to lose their match by 64 points. The loss is a blow to Fitzroy's finals hopes, as they now begin to lose touch with the the top three.
Fitzroy jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter leading by two goals at the quarter time break.
Stung by their poor performance, Mazenod struck back in the second quarter in what was priving to be a heated match, kicking five goals to Fitzroy's three and leading by the narrowest of margins at half time.
Mazenod continued their second quarter form in the third quarter adding another five goals to Fitzroy's solitary goal and taking just under a four goal lead by the end of the quarter. Any Roys fans hoping for a last quarter comeback were to be sorely disappointed. Fitzroy could only add one goal while Mazenod slammed on eight last quarter goals to take out the match by 64 points.
Goal Kickers: D. Bisetto 2, A. Green , D. Patcas , J. Dalton , S. Baker , A. Harbor , D. Pound-Palmieri
Best Players: M. Kyroussis, N. Ligris, M. Allen, D. Pound-Palmieri, J. Parkinson, A. Green
Fitzroy now have dropped to sixth position and are half a game and ten percent behind Ajax and half a game and twenty six percent behind fourth placed Old Melburnians. This Saturday sees Fitzroy travel to Bulleen to take on second placed Old Carey.
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves 8.5.53 lost to Mazenod 10.16.76. The loss sees the Reserves fall to seventh on the Premier B Reserves ladder.
Reserves Goal Kickers: J. McGee 5, G. Warton , C. Hart , M. Racovalis
Reserves Best Players: R. Floyd, D. Olarenshaw, A. Ricco, C. Hart, G. Warton, J. McGee
Fitzroy's Thirds 23.22.160 had a massive 153 point win over Mazenod 1.1.7 to mvoe to second on the Premier B Thirds Ladder.
Finally a very accurate Fitzroy U/19 team 10.2.62 lost to the Parkdale Vultures 18.15.123 by 61 points. The U19s dropped from the top of the U19 Section 2 ladder to second place.
Goal Kickers: W. Zaghis 3, B. McDonald 2, J. Hill , L. Edwards , B. Caplikas , O. Ishak , H. Morris-Dalton
Best Players: L. Edwards, T. Robinson, J. Bluer, H. Morris-Dalton , B. McDonald, W. Zaghis
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Fitzroy Retrospective Best and Fairest Dinner on 21st August
5.45 pm Friday 18th July 2014
Did you know that for a period throughout Fitzroy’s history, the winners of the annual Club Champion award didn’t necessarily receive a medal?
Instead, players could nominate a different type of gift, which would include everything from golf clubs to outdoor settings, and any other household or personal items they might have needed at the time.
Former Fitzroy Best and Fairest Norm Brown revealed upon his induction into the Brisbane Lions’ Hall of Fame last month that he still had the coffee table he received for one of his three triumphs in the mid-60s.
In light of this fact, the Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Historical Society will present a special medallion to all those former Fitzroy Best and Fairest winners who might no longer have anything to show for their achievements, at their annual dinner on Thursday 21 August.
The event, to be held at Moonlight Receptions in Fitzroy, is set to feature some of the biggest names from Fitzroy – including (Best and Fairest years in brackets):
Bill Stephen (1950, 54)
Kevin Murray (1956, 58, 60-64, 68-69)
Graham Campbell (1957)
Norm Brown (1965-67)
John Murphy (1968, 1970-71, 73, 77)
Garry Wilson (1972, 76, 78-80)
Harvey Merrigan (1974)
Ron Alexander (1981)
Matthew Rendell (1982-83)
Ross Thornton (1984)
Paul Roos (1985-86, 1991-92, 94)
Darren Kappler (1988)
Gary Pert (1989)
Alastair Lynch (1993)
Brad Boyd (1995)
Martin Pike (1996)
Check out a complete list of every Fitzroy Best & Fairest winner throughout history.
Tickets to attend the Museum Annual Dinner are just $75 per person and include a three course meal and tea and coffee, with drinks available at bar prices.
All proceeds from the night will go towards the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Historical Society’s magnificent memorabilia display housed at Etihad Stadium.
With such a star-studded line-up of former players and space for only 500 guests, we recommend you book today to avoid missing out on this historic event.
Almost half of the available tickets have already been sold to existing Historical Society members, who had the benefit of a two-week priority booking period.
For further information surrounding the event, please contact Historical Society Museum Custodian Arthur Wilson on 03 9432 6213 or 0405 565 814.
Alternatively you can visit the Historical Society’s web page to download and complete a booking form.
DATE: Thursday 21 August 2014 @ 7pm
VENUE: Moonlight Receptions – 622 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North
COST: $75 – includes three-course meal and tea and coffee (drinks at bar prices)
DRESS: Lounge suit and tie
Late goal sees Fitzroy win by 6 points.
10.30 am Sunday 6th July 2014
There is something about Fitzroy and Old Haileybury that produces climactic finishes. Earlier this year they played out a draw, and we were looking likely for a repeat of that until co-captain Rory Angiolella scored a late goal for the Roys to salute by six points.
Fitzroy trailed for most of the first half trailing at quarter time by just two points and at half time by four points. Goalkicking honours were evenly shared with Angiolella, Hesse, Bisetto and Patcas all kicking singles.
Fitzroy managed to open a two goal lead by three quarter time, the biggest margin for the day. With five minutes to go in the last quarter, Old Haileybury had pegged that lead back and it looked as if both sides were going to fight out their second draw of the season, until Rory Angiolella broke the deadlock.
Goal Kickers: R. Angiolella 3, D. Bisetto 2, D. Patcas 2, G. Hesse, S. Bake , M. Allen, W. Fenton
Best Players: R. Angiolella, J. McCormack, T. Cheshire, M. Ellis, D. Patcas, M. Allen
The win means that Fitzroy keep in touch with the Final Four, only half a game behind St Kevins in third position and Ajax in fourth. Their next opponent at home in a fortnight is Mazenod, who themselves defeated top placed University Blues by one point.
Earlier an inaccurate Fitzroy Reserves lost their match by 33 points in a low scoring affair. Fitzroy 3.11.29 lost to Caulfield Grammarians 9.8.62.
The Fitzroy Under 19s 20.17.137 had a convincing 83 point win over Caulfield Grammarians 7.12.54.
Goal Kickers: N. Ligris 4, A. Lambert 4, L. Edwards 3, O. Ishak 2, B. Caplikas 2, B. McDonald 2, H. Morris-Dalton , J. Butler , Z. Hancock
Best Players: A. Lambert, M. Deasey, S. Dalton, N. Ligris, H. Morris-Dalton , I. Wattis
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Miracle Match launch
11.00 am Tuesday 1st July 2014
Don't miss the launch of Miracle Match, the story of Fitzroy’s David and Goliath victory over premiers-to-be Geelong almost 51 years ago.
Up to 10 of the 1963 side, now all in their 70s, will gather at the Fitzroy Bowling Club on July 16 from 7 pm.
Among those already confirmed are John Bahen, Norm Brown, Bryan Clements, Brian Beers, Bob Beattie, John Hayes and Brian Carroll, while the great Kevin Murray is also hoping to be present.
Only 563 books have been printed. THe book is available at Brunswick St on home match days.
"Miracle Match" has been written by prolific sportswriter Ken Piesse.
It is available in both hardback (signed by Kevin Murray) at $60 and softback at $30.
Fitzroy supporters are invited to attend the launch and share in the memories.
The catered launch costs $10 a head.
Book your place with Robert at email@example.com or Arthur Wilson on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fitzroy lose by eight points at Glenhuntly Oval.
4.45 pm Saturday 28th June 2014
Fitzroy's senior side have made a late comeback in the last quarter at Glenhuntly Oval to fall short by just eight points in their match against Caulfield Grammarians.
Trailing by 22 points at three-quarter time, the Roys kicked three goals to one in the last to lose by just over a kick.
In the second quarter the Roys matched the Grammarians in scoring each kicking two goals, after Fitzroy could only manage a solitary goal in the first. It was Fitzroy who had much of the play up forward in the second quarter, but weren't able to quite take full opportunity with the chances they did have. Luckily McWhinney kicked a superb goal after the half time siren to close the margin to just over two goals.
At quarter time it was Fitzroy 1.0.6 trailing Caulfield Grammarians 3.5.23 by 17 points.
Goal Kickers: S. Baker 3, R. Borland 2, G. Hesse , N. Marshall , W. Fenton
Best Players: N. Marshall, M. Allen, S. Baker, J. Parkinson, M. Brown, M. Kyroussis
The loss means that Fitzroy cling to fifth position by virtue of 2 points and are now a game out of the Top 4, behind St Kevins. Fitzroy's relatively poor percentage means that Old Melburnians could easily leap frog them into fifth position, if Fitzroy cannot win in the next couple of weeks. Fitzroy's next opponent is ninth placed Old Haileybury, with whom they fought out a draw back in Round 2.
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves lost their match by 30 points in a low scoring affair. Fitzroy 5.10.40 lost to Caulfield Grammarians 9.6.70. The loss also sees the Fitzroy Reserves cling to fifth position on the Reserves ladder ahead on percentage from Ajax and Old Ivanhoe.
Goal Kickers: J. Beech 2, J. McGee , K. Menzies , S. Buckley
Best Players: B. Farley, S. Buckley, J. Sawyer, J. Murray, O. Stedman, K. Menzies
The Fitzroy Thirds had a hard fought seven point win against Old Carey at Bulleen Park. Fitzroy 10.11.71 defeated Old Carey 10.4.64.
Goal Kickers: L. Henderson 2, M. Gaite 2, L. Sugrue , T. Wells , D. Ly , N. Brown , B. McAdam , T. Denatris
Best Players: B. McAdam, D. Ly, N. Brown, M. Gaite, T. Denatris, L. Henderson
On Friday night, the Fitzroy Under 19s played University Blacks under lights at Victoria Park and had a good 36 point win. Fitzroy 10.12.72 defeated University Blacks 5.6.36
Goal Kickers: J. McCormack 3, I. Wattis 2, M. Davie 2, T. Robinson , B. Caplikas , W. Zaghis
Best Players: M. Davie, N. Gibbons, B. McDonald, I. Wattis, L. Edwards, B. Caplikas
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Fitzroy's major raffle drawn
10.00 pm Tuesday 24th June 2014
Thank you everyone who sold and bought tickets in the Club’s major raffle. The raffle was successful and raised over $12,000 from the ticket sales.
The draw was conducted on Saturday, 22 June at the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy Community Room at Brunswick Oval and the lucky winners are:
First Prize – Tom Roper, ticket number 1506
Second prize – Phyllis Quealy. ticket number 825
Third prize – Rory Angiolella, ticket number 1653
Fourth prize – Luke Thomas, ticket number 2165
The Club would like to also extend its thanks to the sponsors of the raffle who are:
- CTS Travel Services, Altona Meadows who donated first prize, a 7 day holiday to Hobart for 2 (includes airfares and accommodation), valued at $3,000
- Brisbane Lions who donated second prize, 2 tickets to the 2014 AFL Grand Final Series valued at $1,200 (Code GFAFL 14/60)
- A Fitzroy Player who donated 2 tickets to the Lady Gaga Melbourne concert (23/8/14), valued at $340
- Caltex who donated StarCash cards, valued at $450
- Moonlight Receptions who sponsored the printing of raffle tickets.
Thank you again to everyone who helped make this raffle a success.
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Fitzroy come from behind to win at Junction Oval.
7.00 pm Saturday 14th June 2014
In scenes reminscent of its heyday at the Junction Oval in the 70's and early 80's, a jubilant Fitzroy have managed to win a tough see-sawing match against the Old Melburnians at the Junction Oval by four points this afternoon.
Trailing by eleven points at three quarter time, thanks largely to inaccuracy in front of goal where they kicked 3.7 in the third term, Fitzroy climbed off the ropes to add 3.4 to its tally to overrun Old Melburnians 1.1 in a nail-biting finish.
It was typical of a match where the score see-sawed the entire game. At quarter time, the Roys were trailing by fourteen points, but a five goal to three goal second term saw Fitzroy hit the front, late in the second to take a one point lead into the main break.
Fitzroy Goal Kickers: D. Bisetto 3, J. Turner 2, D. Pound-Palmieri 2, M. Cussen , G. Hesse , R. Angiolella , M. Allen , R. Borland , W. Fenton
Fitzroy Best Players: M. Kyroussis, C. Stevic, D. Bisetto, D. Pound-Palmieri, T. Cheshire, G. McCarthy
The win today means that Fitzroy have gone some way to holding their place in the Final Four and a buffer between themselves and sixth position. While they have moved into third position on the ladder, Fitzroy are only seperated from fifth position by only two points. A tough match next week against top of the table University Blues only adds to the importance of today's win.
Today was the tenth occasion in Fitzroy's history where Fitzroy has won by 4 points or less at the Junction Oval and the closest since Round 7 1981 when Fitzroy defeated Richmond by 4 points at the Junction.
Fitzroy has won by one point on four occasions at the Junction Oval.
The first was the 1899 Grand Final where Fitzroy 0.1 2.4 2.6 3.9.27 defeated South Melbourne 2.3 2.3 3.7 3.8.26 in front of 4,823 people. It took Fitzroy 73 years to repeat that effort at the Junction again when in Round 11 1972 Fitzroy 4.3 8.8 10.11 12.17.89 defeated Melbourne 3.3 6.5 12.6 13.10.88 in front of 23,103 people.
Fitzroy's next one point win came against South Melbourne in Round 7 1976 when Fitzroy 6.4 9.8 11.18 11.22.88 defeated the Swans 3.1 6.9 7.10, 12.15 87 in front of 11,367 people. The third time was in Round 16 1978 when the Roys 4.3 12.7 16.8 18.14.122 defeated Hawthorn 3.6 8.10 14.14 17.19.121 by a point in front of 12,299 people.
Fitzroy has only ever played one draw at the Junction Oval, against arch rival Collingwood in Round 8 of the 1980 season in front of 20,596 people. Fitzroy 4.7 7.10 13.14 17.16 118 drew with Collingwood 3.4 10.8 12.11 17.16 118.
Fitzroy's closest wins at the Junction Oval
By one point
- Grand Final 1899 South Melbourne 2.3 2.3 3.7 3.8 26 lost to Fitzroy 0.1 2.4 2.6 3.9 27
- Round 11 1972 Fitzroy 4.3 8.8 10.11 12.17 89 defeated Melbourne 3.3 6.5 12.6 13.10 8
- Round 7 1976 Fitzroy 6.4 9.8 11.18 11.22 88 defeated South Melbourne 3.1 6.9 7.10 12.15 87
- Round 16 1978 Fitzroy 4.3 12.7 16.8 18.14 122 defeated Hawthorn 3.6 8.10 14.14 17.19 121
By two points
- Round 16 1914 St Kilda 1.3 3.9 3.10 6.15 51 lost to Fitzroy 3.2 3.5 7.10 7.11 53
- Round 20 1941 St Kilda 2.1 6.1 10.2 12.4 76 lost to Fitzroy 3.1 7.3 10.4 12.6 78
- Round 10 1970 Fitzroy 4.4 11.5 12.6 14.9 93 defeated South Melbourne 2.4 7.9 11.16 12.19 91
- Round 20 1970 Fitzroy 4.4 5.5 9.10 12.10 82 defeated Footscray 1.1 7.7 9.10 11.14 80
By four points
- Round 7 1981 Fitzroy 4.4 5.6 10.12 13.14 92 defeated Richmond 6.6 9.10 11.12 12.16 88
- Round 9 2014 Fitzroy 2.3 7.6 10.13 13.7 95 defeated Old Melburnians 4.5 7.5 13.6 14.7 91
In other results today:
FITZROY RESERVES: Fitzroy 5.12.42 lost to Old Melburnians 13.9.87 by 45 points
FITZROY THIRDS: Fitzroy 15.14.104 defeated Old Trinity 5.6.36 by 68 points
FITZROY U/19s: Fitzroy 15.4.84 defeated Old Trinity 11.5.71 by 13 points
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Doug Nicholls - his story.
8.00 pm Friday 30th May 2014
On the eve of AFL's indigenous round, a theme reflected at many lower levels of the sport, it should be time to reflect on the role Sir Doug Nicholls played in shaping not only the Fitzroy Football Club, but also the entire VFL competition and Australian sport in general.
He might have passed away more than 25 years ago, but remains to this day one of the most revered of all Indigenous Australians.
As Chris Donald wrote in Fitzroy: For the Love of the Jumper (2005): “Nicholls was a great pioneer for the Aboriginal people, his sporting ability opened many doors for him in an era where opportunities for Aboriginals were very scarce.”
Despite standing at just 155cm, Nicholls was lightning fast and always showed great sporting promise.
“I was quick on my feet and quick of eye. I got it from my ancestors. They needed it to get out of trouble," Nicholls was quoted as saying in a book titled Black Stars.
He first decided to try his hand at Australian Rules with Tongala in the Goulburn Valley Football League in 1925, and even trained at Carlton for a short period, before settling with Northcote in the VFA. Nicholls joined Jimmy Sharman's boxing troupe at the end of 1931 season, as boxing offered a better income than football. Despite many clubs approaching Nicholls, he refused to leave boxing. Not only was the money better but he had a three year contract to honour.
Before long, his obvious athletic abilities caught the eye of Fitzroy’s recruiters. Nicholl's release from boxing came when Fitzroy's secretary Tom Coles approached Jimmy Sharman in Sydney, offering a position as assistant curator of the Brunswick Street Oval. Sharman realised that the offer was in Nicholl's best interests and despite Nicholl's protests, Sharman advised him to go to Fitzroy.
Fitzroy were delighted that Nicholls had agreed to sign with them, reporting later that Nicholls was "the cleverest wingman in the VFA."
In Fields of Courage: The Bravest Chapters in Sport (2011), Max Davidson claimed that "when Fitzroy signed him…the club was taking a calculated gamble (but) in terms of racial tolerance, the Roys had a better track record than other VFL clubs."
That was true. In fact Nicholls wasn't the first indigenous player to have played for Fitzroy. Joe Johnson played 55 games between 1904 and 1906 and was a member of the 1904 and 1905 premiership teams.
Nicholls had faced racist abuse earlier in his career especially during a period when he trained with Carlton, when trainers would not willingly give him a rub-down. According to Nicholl's biographer Mavis Thorpe Clark, it was even believed at Carlton that he smelt because he was black.
Three-time Brownlow Medallist and Fitzroy legend Haydn Bunton quickly became "good mates" with Nicholls and was "far ahead of his time" in helping break down the race barrier.
The story goes that Nicholls would change alone in the corner of the Brunswick Street Oval’s dressing room away from his teammates, until Bunton – a genuine star of the competition who was fresh from winning the Brownlow Medal in his first season – made a point of joining him and stood by his side for the remainder of his career.
Mavis Clark reported that Bunton came to Nicholls in his corner who was getting changed before training away from the others and asked "What's the idea? Why aren't you with the others?" Nicholls replied "We-e-ll you know how it is." Buton reliased the source of Bunton's retience and made a point of changing with him from then on.
“When (Haydn Bunton) came into the Fitzroy dressing room at the start of the 1932 season, and saw his new teammate, a mass of nerves, he simply went across to Doug Nicholls, put his bag down next to his and gave him a little squeeze, as if to say, everything is going to be all right," Davidson wrote.
"Haydn Bunton was colour blind in the finest sense.'
Davidson also referenced Ken Mansell’s song The Ballad of Haydn Bunton to highlight how the Fitzroy Legend embraced Nicholls:
In the gloomy, hungry Thirties,
When Fitzroy folk were low,
A touch of Bunton magic
Could set all hearts aglow.
When Pastor Douglas Nicholls,
Was meek and scared and shy,
He found a mate in Bunton,
A man before his time.
Nicholls made his senior VFL debut with Fitzroy in Round 1 of 1932 at the Brunswick Street Oval against Carlton – coincidentally the same side he’d earlier trained with.
He managed just two further senior games in a debut season ravaged by injury, before becoming a permanent fixture in the side the following year.
His 1933 and 1934 seasons were his best at Fitzroy gaining votes in the Brownlow Medal. Nicholls went on to represent the VFL in a match against the VFA in 1934, won the J.C Blair Cup as the best afield in a match against Melbourne, and twice represented Victoria in the State of Origin carnival.
When selected in the VFL side in June 1935, which he regarded as a great honour, Nicholls explained his attitude to football in an interview with the Sporting Globe.
"I love football" I love every moment of it. To me football is more than a mere game. It is not only wonderful recreation, but an inspiration and a mental and physical tonic. How I look forward to each Saturday's play.
"To me the roar of the crowd is music. I revel in the tense atmoshpere of the game and the preparations for it. So keen am I on football I'd go anywhere for a game.
"Once on a football field, I forget everything else. I'm playing football. I never take my eyes off that ball. My aim is not ony to beat my opponent but also to serve my side. I realise than in football, as in other things, its team work that tells....."
Nicholls reached his 50th game in Round 13 of 1936, but the following season proved his last after a bout of influenza limited him to just the one senior game against Essendon at the Brunswick Street Oval in Round 6 of 1937. With the realisation that he was no longer as fast as he had been - he was 31 - Nicholls was devastated by his lack of form and his inability to break into the firsts, retiring at the end of the 1937 season.
Nicholls played most of his 54 games at Fitzroy in the number 9 guernsey – a number shared by a number of great Fitzroy players over the years, including former Fitzroy Captain and two-time Best and Fairest Matthew Rendell (164 games) and goal-kicking star Jim Freake (135 games).
Doug Nicholls preceded a number of other indigenous players at Fitzroy. Shadrach James (18 games) played in the 1940s and Ted Lovett (9 games) in the 1960s. In more recent times Kevin Taylor (1 game), Wally Matera (32 games), Kevin Caton (9 games), Dale Kickett (15 games), Robert Cummings (1 game), Trent Cummings (27 games), Peter Bird (15 games) and Chris Johnson (59 games) all played for Fitzroy in the AFL.
The Nicholls legend only grew following his retirement from football in 1937.
A proud Christian who would often organise football church parades, he went on serve as a social worker in the Fitzroy Aboriginal Community before becoming Pastor of the first Aboriginal Church of Christ in Australia.
His outstanding service was later recognised when he became the first Aboriginal to receive an MBE in 1957 and the first to receive knighthood in 1972.
Among other honours, he also was named Father of the Year in 1962, was the first Aboriginal Justice of the Peace in 1963, was made King of Moomba in 1973, and spent a year as Governor of South Australia from 1976-77.
In his 81 years (he passed on 4 June 1988), made an indelible impact that extended far beyond his playing days at Fitzroy. To the end of his life he remained a keen Fitzroy supporter.
He truly was one of the great pioneers of the Indigenous community.
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Roys are the boys, but Val's the Gal.
9.00 pm Thursday 29th May 2014
One of Fitzroy’s favourite daughters ticks a dream off her bucket list, writes James Nice. Photo by Tim Gunn.
For an Australian Rules Football Club to have undergone such tumultuous changes and financial turmoil that the Fitzroy Football Club has in its recent history, lesser clubs would have soon faded away. However, now a part of the Victorian Amateur Football Association, the Fitzroy Football Club and its passionate supporters still keep alive the spirit that was once so fierce in the Fitzroy of old.
Nestled to the south of the Edinburgh Gardens, behind the Victorian Heritage Registered grandstand each Saturday at 2pm, it’s easy to get lost in the mini ocean of Red, Blue and Gold. But last weekend, one supporter was the centre of attention.
Like her Fitzroy, Val Allpress has a rich history with the club, and is just as lively and passionate as any who support the Roys. Now in her 80s, Val can still be found watching her beloved Fitzroy play, whether they are at home or away.
Last Saturday however, Val was treated to a special ride in to watch her side take on AJAX at Brunswick Street Oval: picked up at her Northcote home and riding pillion to the game on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, driven by fellow supporter Bernie; a thought that most 80 year olds would shy well away from.
“It was absolutely wonderful!” a spritely Val smiles as she recounts her trip to the ground. “He must be bruised; I was holding on! I didn’t scream though - but I held my breath a couple of times. He’s a very good bike-rider though, Bernie. Very good.”
As a young schoolgirl, Val would often see her uncle and his friends tinkering with their bikes in the backyard. “I often got taken for a ride around the block,” Val chuckles, despite being told by her grandmother, who raised her, “I was never allowed on them.”
“But I’ve always wanted to ride on a Harley. That’s been number one on the Bucket List, and it’s off now!”
Val’s big day was sweetened greater, as she witnessed Fitzroy romp home to a 101 point win against the higher-placed AJAX. “I can’t believe that scoreboard, it was marvellous.”
Like the club she supports, Val’s time with the Reds is rich with history. It all began when her late husband, a VFL umpire for 13 years, came home from watching the Uni Blues be defeated again in a final. When he told his wife the Blues had lost again, she scoffed, replying “They need a woman up there to smarten up their ideas.”
One night, Val received a call from one Peter Selleck, the retiring Secretary of the University of Melbourne Australian Football Club, hearing she was interested in the job. “Am I?” Val replied, shocked. “We have also got somebody else we’re interested in,” Val was told, and upon the day of her interview, walked in on a roomful of men applying for the role.
Naturally, she was surprised when she received a further call from Mr Selleck the following night, informing her that the job was hers. On her acceptance of the role, Val became the first female Secretary of the University of Melbourne Australian Football Club. “I didn’t really know what I’d let myself in for,” Val admits, “but I had from 1978 to 1986 up there, and they were wonderful years.”
Of the three Melbourne University teams, Val always lent towards the Reds. “They were the social club up there,” she laughs, remembering the time before the merging of the Reds and Fitzroy. Her support for the Reds has earned Val two places on their honour board, in the Hall of Fame and as a Life Member.
After a number of years away from football, Val was drawn back to her love for the team. She again regularly started attending the club’s matches in 2001 and is a well recognised face in the crowd still to this day.
It is inspiring people like Val who passionately support and serve their club and who dedicate so much of their time that allows the Fitzroy Football Club to continue to thrive.
Article by James Nice, photos by Tim Gunn.
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Fitzroy Juniors to play in Indigenous Round - May 30th.
9.00 pm Thursday 29th May 2014
The Fitzroy Junior Football Club club will again participate in an Indigenous Round on Friday night May 30th 2014, beginning at 4.30 pm.
In 2013 this event culminated in a night game for the Fitzroy Colts Colts team at Victoria Park last year, with approximately 1,000 of our community there cheering them on.
The Fitzroy Junior Football Club are doing the same again this year playing against the Beverly Hills Football Club (the former junior club of Fitzroy champion Paul Roos) in both matches, with the Junior Club's U/12 Gold match played as the curtain raiser for our Colts team at 7.30pm.
At 7 pm, we have an official Welcome to Country Ceremony conducted by the Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc.
The Fitzroy Junior Football Club invites all members of the Fitzroy Football Club to come along to the event this Friday. It will be a fantastic community event to be part of.
There is no charge to get into the ground and it should be a wonderful grassroots display of local footy to celebrate Fitzroy's indigenous connection.
For full details download the PDF poster from here.
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Fitzroy win by 101 points and move into the Four.
8.00 am Saturday 24th May 2014
Fitzroy has won for the third week in a row to defeat fellow final aspirants Ajax by a massive 101 points, placing them, for the second time in the season, inside the Final Four by half a game and a small amount of percentage.
After an even first quarter, where each side had kicked one goal, Fitzroy jumped out of the blocks in the second quarter to slam on six unanswered goals.
At half time the Roys led by 40 points and with a significant lead some of the onlookers might have presumed that the side would have been happy to coast in the second half.
What followed even the most ardent Fitzroy fan wouldn't have believed. Fitzroy kicked another seven goals, all unanswered by a demoralised Ajax, who could only manage 2 points for the quarter. At three quarter time Fitzroy led by 84 points and were heading for their biggest ever win in Premier B.
Ajax finally kicked their first goal since the first quarter but it was their last major for the game. Fitzroy added a further four goals to win by 101 points - by far their largest margin in Premier B and one of their largest margins since entering the VAFA, since joining the Fitzroy Reds in 2009.
Final Scores were: Fitzroy 18.14.128 defeated Ajax 2.9.27 by 101 points.
Goal Kickers: D. Bisetto 4, W. Fenton 4, M. Cussen 2, D. Pound-Palmieri, R. Angiolella, D. Patcas, J. Dalton, J. Turner, C. Stevic, T. Biscaro, M. Brown
Best Players: A. Green, D. Bisetto, W. Fenton, D. Pound-Palmieri, M. Kyroussis, M. Ellis
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves lost their match by a narrow 11 points. Final scores were FitzroyFitzroy 9.7.61 lost to Ajax 11.6.72. Best Players were: J. Anderson, J. Meakin, C. Doherty, R. Borland, R. Willingham and W. Johnson, while C. Doherty kicked three goals, D. Kynigopoulos two goals and single goals to A. Ricco, S. Buckley, J. Beech and C. Evans
The loss sees the Fitzroy Reserves fall to sixth position on the ladder on percentage.
Over at the Ramsden Street Oval, the Fitzroy Thirds also had a loss this time by 23 points. The final scores were Fitzroy 8.3.51 lost to Old Xaverians 11.8.74.
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They've travelled around the world - now they're back at Brunswick Street
8.00 om Saturday 24th May 2014
Plenty of retirees take a holiday. Former Fitzroy Football Club stalwarts took that one step further. Brian Rix put his wife Shirley Hardy-Rix on the back of his motorbike and headed off to ride around the world. Sixteen months on the road, 32 countries, more than 82,000 kilometres. It was the ride of a lifetime.
Now come and hear their experiences at the President's Luncheon on Saturday 31st May at 12 noon.
Fitzroy will be playing Old Ivanhoe at the Brunswick Street oval.
A buffet two - course meal will be served.
Cost per head is $40.00 and drinks are at bar prices.
Please complete and send off the attached booking slip to the Club to reserve your booking.
Final luncheon numbers must be confirmed by WEDNESDAY 28th MAY
Numbers are limited.
This will be a sell-out function so BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment!
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Fitzroy scores second successive win to move within striking distance of the Four.
11.00 am Sunday 18th May 2014
Fitzroy has scored its second successive win to move within half a game and percentage of a place in the Top Four of Premier B.
Set up by a magnificent first quarter where Fitzroy kicked six goals to Mazenod's two points, the Roys never gave up their lead and went on to score a solid 36 point win by the final bell.
Final Scores were: Fitzroy 14.15.99 defeated Mazenod 9.9.63 by 31 points.
Goal Kickers: W. Pickering 5, D. Bisetto 4, D. Pound-Palmieri 2, D. Patcas, R. Angiolella, C. Stevic.
Best Players: M. Brown, W. Pickering, D. Bisetto, M. Kyroussis, T. Biscaro, J. MacKay
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves notched their fourth win of the season with a comfortable 53 point win over the Mazenod reserves, despite some inaccuracy in front of goal. Final scores were Fitzroy 11.21.87 defeated Mazenod 5.4.34. The win puts the Reserves in a similar position to the seniors in that they lie in fifth position on the Premier B ladder just out of the Final Four on percentage.
Over at the Ramsden Street Oval, the Fitzroy Thirds completed a very good day for the Club when they defeated Caulfield Grammarians by 37 points. The final scores were Fitzroy 11.11.77 defeated Caulfield Grammarians 6.5.41.
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Love of Old Fitzroy keeps the home fires burning
11.00 am Sunday 18th May 2014
Lifelong fans like Suzanne Madeley make a bargain with the football gods: yes, footy will break your heart, but the broken heart is there to make the days when your heart soars seem all the sweeter. No one ever told her that one day the game she loves would break her heart for good.
It was 1996 - the last time she went to an AFL match, because it was the last time her beloved Fitzroy played in the competition. The long fight to save the club amid financial disaster was lost. The Lions were gone. They'd be reborn soon enough - up north, where the remnants of one of the code's founding clubs were cast off in a merger with the fledgling Brisbane Bears - but Ms Madeley was having none of it.
"It was like being on the barricades, surrounded by the enemy and fighting for your life," she says of the battle to save Fitzroy. "Then the curtain just came down in 1996 and we knew we'd played our final game and from then on there just wasn't going to be any Fitzroy. It was inconceivable. I shed endless tears."
Ms Madeley accepts change had to come, but she questions the cost to the soul of both the sport and of the city that is its spiritual home.
Now in her 60s, she was raised in Fitzroy - five generations had called those streets home. As a girl, her father introduced her to his passion for the local club. Her memories of the time sound like the myths of a Melbourne long since vanished.
"I remember going out to watch football games on a Saturday afternoon and seeing the whole of Melbourne on the move, all decked out in their football colours," she says. "It was like an amazing pageant.
''I used to think to myself, 'This would be the most sensational tourist attraction, I'm sure there isn't any other city in the world where this happens.' But the AFL didn't see it that way; they wanted to grow the game and make it larger. But in doing that, they lost a lot."
Unlike most fans, Ms Madeley refused to play along. Instead, she stuck fiercely by the Melbourne remnants of the Fitzroy Football Club.
Today, Fitzroy has been reincarnated as an amateur club that plays in Melbourne's amateur competition. And the Roys play on the same Brunswick Street Oval where a footy was first kicked in 1884.
"It's old-fashioned home and away, it's always on Saturday afternoon," she says. "We've got free admission, affordable food. You can go out at quarter- time and have kick to kick on the ground. You can listen to the coaches address the players.
"To me, when I sit up here in the stands, it's like I've got my whole family around me again. My dad used to sit here in his younger days."
She'll be out there in her colours again this Saturday - she is the official timekeeper for the club - and her love of the game is undiminished. It's the modern AFL that has lost her, not the sport itself.
Neil McMahon The Age.
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Long journey ends with senior debut.
11.00 am Sunday 18th May 2014
It has been a long journey for Jamie “Jim-Bob” Mackay, but at 34 the popular ruckman finally cracked the seniors, writes Rich Willingham.
The round one victory over the highly-fancied St Kevin’s Old Boys was one of the best in the club’s recent history.
It was a special day for players, coaches and supporters of the club as the Roys secured a rare round 1 victory – it had been five years since the Red-Roys had opened a VAFA season with a win.
It was also a very special day for ruckman Jamie “Jim-Bob” Mackay. So emotional with the win Jim-Bob was on the verge of tears as he walked off T.H. King Oval with the lads to stirring applause from the Fitzroy faithful.
At 34 it was Jim-Bob’s first senior game at the club.
He started at the club a decade ago but was sidelined for four years with shin splints, (cured by acupuncture) as well as a stint overseas. This year is Jim-Bob’s fifth consecutive season.
In 2012 he fought off glandular fever to be part of the Thirds premiership team as well as winning the Club XVIII best & fairest with just six games.
Jim’s journey to round 1 in the Seniors began last May when he was made redundant from his work.
Unemployed and dealing with mental health issues Jim-Bob found help and relief in exercise.
An early preseason training session in December at Gosch’s paddock gave Jim-Bob “a good sniff of it.”
He kept running, working hard and generally enjoyed being around the club and the lads.
“It was out of sheer necessity about my own sanity to just keep fit and push myself,’’ he says.
Jim-Bob barely missed a pre-season session.
Opportunity arose for senior selection with last year’s ruck Michael Lee out for an extended period with injury.
Round 1 selection was not the aim, but a bonus, the 34-year-old says.
The day was an emotional one, with the Roys staying with the perennial Premier B finalist all day – Jim-Bob fractured his rib in the second quarter but battled on -- before kicking away in the final stanza.
That night at the North Fitzroy Arms, sitting on a tall table with a beer and a counter meal, a content Jim-Bob revealed he was on the verge of tears after the game.
“Just making it that far, it was the realisation that things are possible no matter how tall, or short, or fat you are.
“It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside it’s what’s inside that counts, it’s never too late.”
Reflecting on his career at Fitzroy, Jim-Bob recalls the first game he captained, in the Clubbies. It was against UHS-VU at Brunswick St Oval, it was also the first time he had ever been concussed.
“I was knocked out for 30 minutes, had a fractured rib and sprained ankle when l eventually came too,’’ Jim-Bob says.
“I was intentionally head-butted!”
Away from the footy field Jim-Bob is a music buff and often shares obscure videos with individual team mates on Facebook.
Co-captain Rory Angionella says his musical posts always bring a smile to his face.
“He gives 100 per cent on and off the field, one of the few players who is willing to do the extra little things off the field to make sure he is giving 100 per cent come game day,’ Angionella says.
“He has improved out of sight since joining the club and has impressed me with his work ethic and desire to play good football for the club.”
“He always has the time of day for anyone and everyone at the club which is an admirable trait. He is just a genuinely great bloke to have around the club.’’
Senior coach Michael Pickering says Jim-Bob displayed a fantastic commitment over pre-season knowing there might be an opportunity if he got himself fit.
Pickering said Jim-Bob had become a good role model for all players at the club as to what is possible with hard work, strong commitment & genuine enthusiasm to improve their football
“He has adopted a terrific attitude at training & has probably been our most committed player to recovery; he should get a discount at St Kilda Sea Baths for all his sessions,’’ Pickering said.
After the round 1 win assistant coach John Le Grand told Jim-Bob that president Joan Eddy wanted to buy Le Grand’s two boys Fitzroy jumpers.
“Ask what number they wanted, expecting them to say Rory, Bisetto or Will Fenton's name, he told me that they asked for Jim-bob's number, no. 30!’’ Jim-Bob said.
“l almost fainted with shock and sheer disbelief!!
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Fitzroy goes down by 31 in tough conditions against Old Carey.
5.00 pm Saturday 3rd May 2014
The Fitzroy Seniors have had another tough weekend at the office losing by 31 points to Old Carey this afternoon in what could be described as quite torrid wet weather conditions.
Old Carey got out to a 43 point lead at half time, but in the second half the Roys managed to close the gap to around 30 points for the rest of the game, with the fonal margin at 31 points.
Final Scores were Old Carey 12.8.80 defeated Fitzroy 6.13.49 by 31 points.
Earlier the Fitzroy Reserves had a comfortable 29 point win over the Old Carey reserves. Final scores were Fitzroy 12.13.85 defeated Old Carey 8.8.56. Well done to the Reserves boys who have consolidated their mid ladder position and are pushing for a spot in the Final Four.
The Seniors will be desperate for a win against Caulfield Grammarians next week at the Brunswick Street Oval, in order to get their promising start to the season underway again. The game will follow the Reserves match at 11.40 am.
Also at next week's home game, the Fitzroy Football Club will be holding their first FFC Afternoon Tea at half time. And you can help us make it a success.
Please donate a plate for the event and leave it in the Community Room kitchen at the start of the game. We’re welcoming whatever you’d like to bring, including cakes, biscuits and other afternoon tea treats.
The Afternoon Tea will be open to all at the game on May 10 for $5 a head entry, which will help raise funds for the Roys.
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Fitzroy fights out draw with Old Haileybury.
9.00 am Saturday 12th April 2014
A great crowd at the Brunswick Street Oval on Saturday afternoon was left feeling flat as the final siren sounded with the scores between Fitzroy and their opponent Old Haileybury level at 13.10.88 each.
Despite the draw for the first time ever Fitzroy sits in the Premier B Top 4 by half a game.
There was a breeze blowing to the Brunswick Street end but both teams were able to score reasonably easily against it. Haileybury wasted it in the first quarter, having most of the play, but Fitzroy's defence stood up well.
Fitzroy went in at half time four goals up which reflected their greater forward potency. Haileybury had more of the play but three late goals gave the Roys a break that most thought would be decisive. After the main break, Haileybury came out "firing on all cylinders", scoring the first four goals of the third quarter to hit the front, with their midfield having first use of the ball but Fitzroy slowly wrested back the momentum striking back with four of their own. The first one was a long goal into the breeze by Will Fenton. At three quarter time it was a fifteen point lead to Fitzroy and the large crowd was hoping that Fitzroy could take that late quarter form into the last stanza.
Fitzroy played the last twenty minutes "under the pump" which meant mistakes were magnified. Haileybury got on top in the clinches having more players at "the fall of the ball". The Roys missed a couple of goals that would have won the game only adding four points to the score from three quarter time while Haileybury managed to kick three goals.
There can be no doubting that the Royboys tried their guts out all day and right up to the final siren they were throwing themselves at the ball and showing enormous courage, they just perhaps a little composure in the clinches.
Will Fenton's efforts in the last quarter were magnificent and kept the Roys in the game, while others faded in the last quarter. Nick Marshall had his best game for the seniors. Toby Hudson-Bevege was a "tower of strength" down back.
Fitzroy now have a week off before the big game against Uni Blues. There are a few top players to come back in, a point made by coach Michael Pickering in his address at the lunch before the game. Co-captain Rory Angiolella who played on Saturday was only half fit and should be "primed" come our date at Melbourne University Oval. Tommy Cheshire and Will Johnson will resume in the Twos after a break. Alistair Green, who finished third in the Best and Fairest last year, is also about to resume and Jack Parkinson, Fitzroy's regular centre half back, had his second game in the twos and may well press for a senior recall in a couple of weeks. Brad Farley kicked five goals in the reserves, pressing his claims for senior selection. Last year's best and fairest AND top goal-kicker Daniel Bisetto missed the game on Saturday and hopefully will return to the senior side in a fortnight against the Blues.
Fitzroy Goal Kickers: W. Fenton 2, S. Baker 2, W. Pickering 2, L. Baker , G. Hesse, M. Brown, J. Turner, D. Patcas, D. Kynigopoulos, C. Stevic
Fitzroy Best Players: M. Kyroussis, J. Leman, S. Baker, M. Brown, W. Fenton, T. Hudson-Bevege
Earlier in the day the Fitzroy Reserves returned to the winner's list by defeating Old Haileybury Reserves by 76 points. Final scores were Fitzroy 20.16.136 defeating Old Haileybury 8.12.60.
Fitzroy Reserves Goal Kickers: B. Farley 5, D. Leech 4, J. Munro 2, M. Cussen 2, S. Buckley 2, C. Moore, D. Cooney-O'Donoghue, J. Meakin, A. Franklin, L. McNally
Fitzroy Reserves Best Players: J. Munro, D. Leech, M. Cussen, J. Anderson, L. McNally, B. Farley.
Postscript: Channel 9 were at the Fitzroy vs. Haileybury game on Saturday filming a piece on the Fitzroy Museum at Etihad Stadium for Channel 9's Saturday night football broadcast.
Watch the television piece at: http://video.au.msn.com/watch/video/fitzroy-museum-lives-on/xyqenm0
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The U/19s' 2013 flag is unveiled.
7.00 pm Thursday 10th April 2014
The U19s last Saturday unfurled the Premiership flag from Season 2013.
The U/19 team has had a big turnover of players due to becoming too old to play U19s this season, most have come from Fitzroy Juniors Colts teams from last year
This is the second start to a season where Fitzroy has unfurled a Premiership flag of a team coached by Bruce Edwards - the 2012 Reserves flag and the 2013 U/19 flag.
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Fitzroy defeat St Kevins by 14 points.
5.00 pm Saturday 5th April 2014
Fitzroy's senior side, behind by ten points at three quarter time in the senior game has fought back to win their opening game against St Kevins in Round 1 of the VAFA Premier B 2014 season. The final score was Fitzroy 16.13.109 to St Kevins 14.11.95.
The score at three quarter time was St Kevin's 11.9.75 to Fitzroy 10.5.65.
A last gasp goal after the siren by last year's best and fairest Daniel Bisetto saw the Roys lead 6.3.39 to St Kevins 5.8.38 at half time.
At quarter time, it had been St. Kevin's in control with Fitzroy trailing by 16 points 2.1.13 to St Kevins 4.5.29.
The team for the seniors was selected as follows:
B: Max Allen, Will Fenton, Josh Munro
HB: Rory Angiolella, Greg Hesse, Dylan Patcas
C: Sam Baker, Toby Hudson, Bevege Will Pickering
HF: Luke Baker, Matt Kyroussis, Dom Pound Palmieri
F: Tom Biscaro, Dylan Leech, Michael Racovalis
Foll: Daniel Bisetto, Jan Leman, Alex Ricco
I: Matt Brown, Jamie Mackay, Corbin Stevic, Jack Dalton, Nick Marshall, Max Ellis, Gary McCarthy
In the reserves Fitzroy suffered a bad defeat losing by 90 points. St Kevins 24.14.158 defeated Fitzroy 10.8.68.
Out at the Ramsden Street Oval, Fitzroy also went down in the Thirds match but this time the score was much closer, with the margin only 23 points. Old Carey 12.11.83 defeated Fitzroy 8.12.60.
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Vale Jack Clancy (1934-2014).
5.00 pm Thursday 3rd April 2014
The Fitzroy Football Club mourns the passing of former Fitzroy and Reds player and University Blacks stalwart, Jack Clancy, who passed away peacefully on March 23 after a long illness.
As well as spending more than 50 years with the Blacks, Clancy was the only player to play for both Fitzroy Football Club and the University/Fitzroy Reds.
Clancy played one senior game for Fitzroy in the VFL in 1957, where he wore the number 38 and was a ruckman. For the University/Fitzroy Reds, Clancy was a player, coach, and member of the Team of the Century.
He is best known for his long and influential association with the Blacks, where he served several decades as a player, coach, chairman, selector mentor and No 1 Member.
Clancy was also a player, vice president, life member and official of The Team of the Modern Era for the MUFC; and delegate, state selector, and competition best and fairest winner for the VAFA.
The University Blacks not only remember Clancy as a remarkable player, but also an inspirational figure at the club. On his passing, the Blacks wrote:
“As he moved from being a contemporary of young players to an elder statesman many decades their senior, his ability to communicate with, understand and mentor them was amazing. Whether a player’s interest was sport, literature, theatre, music, politics or in just growing up a little, Jack was a go to man for all seasons. All delivered with the hand of friendship and respect for the individual, no matter if it was the star player in the seniors or the trainer for the clubbies. Around such men is a culture moulded.”
The Fitzroy Football Club extends our condolences to Clancy’s wife Patricia, sons David and Rob, and the rest of the extended Clancy family.
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Rory Angiolella and Will Fenton announced as Fitzroy's co-captains for 2014.
3.00 pm Sunday 30th March 2014
The Fitzroy Football Club have announced the appointment of Fitzroy's co-captains for Season 2014, at the club's season launch at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowls Club.
Captain for the last two years, Rory Angiolella will be joined by Will Fenton as co-captain for this season.
The vice captains for this season will be last year's co-captain Sam Baker, as well as Daniel Bisetto and Dom Pound Palmieri.
Club director Anita Roper was the Master of Ceremonies at the season launch, and several speakers including President Joan Eddy, coach Michael Pickering, and captain Rory Angiolella and Will Fenton spoke of their hopes and plans for the coming season.
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Vale George Coates (1924-2014)
8.30 pm Tuesday 18th February 2014
The Fitzroy Football Club mourns the passing of former player and Life Member George Coates, who passed away on Sunday evening, aged 90.
Coates was a talented rover who played 128 games and kicked 128 goals in eight seasons at Fitzroy from 1947-54.
He played his first senior game for Fitzroy in Round 5 of 1947 against St Kilda at Brunswick Street and kicked 3 goals.
During his first season he became a valuable member of the Fitzroy team that finished third, playing well in the preliminary final loss to Essendon.
"I was 19th man in that game and I came on and had a pretty good second half. I suppose probably kicking five goals in that 1947 preliminary final was my career highlight." he later said.
Coates played in another final series in 1952, including the preliminary final loss to Collingwood.
He was selected to represent Victoria in 1949.
Playing alongside such greats such as Fred Hughson, Allan Ruthven and Bill Stephen, Coates never won a best and fairest award. The closest he came was in 1953 when Don Furness defeated him by one vote.
After retiring as a player at the end of the 1954 season, Coates coached the State Savings Bank and the AJAX club in A-Grade VAFA. (AJAX is currently in B-Grade and will play against Fitzroy this coming season)
Eventually he became a highly devoted servant of the Fitzroy Football Club in a variety of administrative posts.
"In 1965, I think we'd won one game in the preceeding number of years and a group of us got together and felt that it was time for a major change. We had a reform committee and called an extraordinary general meeting. I came in along with a fellow called Ern Joseph who became president. I was one of three vice-presidents that we had. We went on from there and except for a short break for business reasons in the late 1970's; I was probably there from 1965 to 1986 on the board. It was a fair stint. I was on the match committee for the whole time I was there and for a good part of it, particuarly the latter part I was chairman of the match committee." he said.
George was also widely credited with helping to design the iconic Fitzroy lion logo in 1965, after Fitzroy had won just one match during the 1963 and 1964 seasons.
"The Lion they originally had was a Lion rampart. He's got his paw in the air and he standing up, he's vertical. It's an old public school image of a Lion, all very English and it was all sort of poofy. In 1965, we came onto the committee and said, 'Let's get something that shows we mean business, that we're powerful and strong. The Lion's a terrific figure, let's exploit it.' We needed to show we are a positive force, so that's what we did. I said to Dave, the art director at my company 'Do something with the Lion, put his foot resting on the ball or something similar' and he came up with the design that's still the one the [Brisbane] Lions use today. So it's been like that since 1965." he stated in 2006.
In 1982 George was delighted to see his son Michael follow in his footsteps in wearing the Number 2 jumper for Fitzroy. Michael ultimately played 29 senior games for Fitzroy.
In 1987, Coates became the first person in Fitzroy history to be awarded the AFL’s Jack Titus Award for outstanding service to the game, and remains one of only two individuals in the Club’s combined history to have received this great honour (along with Bill Stephen who won the award in 1996).
Along with Arthur Wilson, George was approached by the Brisbane Lions’ Board to help establish the Historical Society in Melbourne.
The Historical Society has since been responsible for the safe-keeping, repairing and ongoing maintenance of all items of Fitzroy memorabilia and currently boasts in excess of 300 members.
The Fitzroy Football Club extends its heartfelt sympathies to George’s wife Judy, his four children, and the entire Coates family at this difficult time.
He will be officially laid to rest in Melbourne this Friday 21 February from 10:30pm at the Box Hill Salvation Army Citadel (17-23 Nelson Road).
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Fitzroy Boys Go the Tan.
7.30 pm Monday 17th February 2014
A team of Fitzroy players, coaches and directors took part in the VAFA sponsored ‘Go The Tan’ on Saturday February 8.
'Go The Tan' is a 3.8km sprint, walk or jog around the Tan track at the Royal Botanic Gardens to raise money for the Fredreich Ataxia Research Association (FARA).
FFC’s team comprised seventeen participants: Twelve FFC players, coach Michael Pickering, and Directors Michael Smale and Anita Roper together with their respective partners Angela Nasso and Tom Roper.
Congratulations must go to our three fastest players: Will Fenton, who completed Go The Tan in 14:24; Greg Hesse, who finished in 14:35; and Greg Hanton, who finished in 14:40.
The Club raised almost $400 for FARA supporting our community partnership with Fitzroy Rotary. This is the third time Fitzroy has taken part in 'Go The Tan'.
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John le Grand - new senior assistant coach.
10.30 pm Wednesday 22nd January 2014
The Club is pleased to announce the appointment of John Le Grand as the Senior Assistant Coach for 2014.
John has an extensive playing and coaching background across a range of VAFA clubs.
John’s playing career was with the Mazenod Old Collegians Football Club. After being the captain of their successful under 19 team in 1996, John played in their senior team for three seasons until serious injuries forced his early retirement at the end of season 1999.
John commenced his coaching career at Mazenod in 2002 coaching their under 19 team for two seasons. In seasons 2004 to 2008 John was appointed to a dual role of the assistant coach of the senior team and the coach of the reserves team at St Kevin’s Old Boys Football Club. In 2004 St Kevin’s senior team won the premiership and in 2007 John also coached their reserves team to a premiership. In 2009 John returned to Mazenod and was the assistant coach of their senior team in 2009-2010.
For the past three seasons (2011-2013), John has been the Senior Coach at Aquinas (D3), building a strong playing list, culminating in the team participating in the finals in 2013.
The Fitzroy Football Club welcome John to our great old Club and look forward to him utilising his significant football knowledge and experience to make a strong contribution to Fitzroy’s prospects in Premier B in 2014.
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Funeral service for Nick Auden on Friday 13th Dec.
8.00 pm Wednesday 11th December 2013
The memorial service for Nick Auden is this Friday at 1pm at St. Andrews Anglican Church in Brighton (the main part of the church), which is located on the corner of New St and Church St in Brighton.
We ask if you could please spread the word to all you know who knew Nick and may wish to attend.
Amy has requested that no flowers be sent - instead if you wish to make a donation, we will let you know in the coming days where that
can be sent.
The Club was saddened to learn the passing of our past player, Nick Auden who died Friday the 22nd November in Denver Colorado.
Many Fitzroy Supporters and the wider VAFA community along with thousands of others, signed up to The Save Locky?s Dad Campaign a few months ago to support Nick getting access to trial medication - Nick fought an amazing fight against an aggressive stage four melanoma and never stopped believing that he would conquer this terrible cancer for the sake of his young family.
As a former Reds teammate of Nick?s remarkedat the time of Nick's passing, "Nick was a great friend and a guy who set the benchmark in everything he did, be it education, career, football, friendship or fatherhood."
Nick played for the Fitzroy Reds from 1998 to 2007. He played mostly in the Ressies with the odd Senior game until 2003 when he started playing with the Club XVIII side.
He played over 100 games with the Fitzroy Reds.
In 1998 he was voted Fitzroy Reds Best new player.
In 2000 He was Best & Fairest in the Reserves
In 2003 he was VAFA Club XVIII Best & Fairest Runner Up and Club XVIII Captain.
In 2007, his final year with the Reds, he was Club XVIII Captain and leading goal kicker.
Our deepest sympathy to Amy, Locky, Hayley, Evan and extended families.
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Vale Ray Slocum (1937-2013).
9.30 am Thursday 14th November 2013
The Fitzroy Football Club mourns the passing of former player Ray Slocum, who played 121 senior games for Fitzroy between 1957 and 1965.
Recruited locally by the Lions, Ray Slocum developed into a wingman after being used initially as a rover and at half forward. Born in 1937 Slocum was recruited to Fitzroy from Preston YCW, from originally a Richmond supporting family, although they quickly converted to Fitzroy when Slocum played in the U/19’s.
After a couple of years in the U/19’s Slocum made his senior debut for Fitzroy in Round 11 of 1957 against South Melbourne at Albert Park. His first senior coach was Bill Stephen, the very man he would eventually replace as senior coach for one senior game eleven years later. Managing five senior games in his first year, he doubled that amount in 1958, under his U/19 coach and now new senior Fitzroy coach Len Smith, establishing himself as a definite up-and-comer amongst the Fitzroy senior listed players.
Slocum recalled that under Len Smith who coached the senior Fitzroy side from 1958 to 1962, he thrived as a footballer. “He [Smith] was great. He was a teacher. He taught us all about football and when we were playing U/19s he taught us all a lot. He was a thinker, you know, he really knew the game. He brought in the flick pass. We had a bit of success with that while we were allowed to do it. His thing in those days was the play on footy and that’s how it all started. We had to keep the ball moving.”
By 1959 Slocum had established himself in the senior team, even gaining three Brownlow votes, and played in the night premiership of that season kicking two goals as the Lions beat Hawthorn by 30 points. “Back in those days, the night premiership did mean something, so we all got some enjoyment out of that.” he later recalled.
Slocum’s career highlight, at the tender age of 23, by his own admission was the 1960 preliminary final at the MCG against Collingwood. Fitzroy lost by a kick in very muddy conditions – a game which Slocum, playing in the forward pocket, believed, could have been won with a little more luck. 1960 was also his most prolific year, where he played 20 out of a possible 24 games.
Unfortunately both for Fitzroy and Ray Slocum he was never to play in a final again, even though in Round 4 1964 against Richmond he finally reached 100 games for the club, putting him amongst a select band of Fitzroy players to have reached that milestone.
Back in those days, a senior player who had accumulated 10 years of consecutive service for Fitzroy was awarded life membership. Slocum who had an Achilles tendon injury struggled to play due to that injury. The last game of the 1966 season was a night match against South Melbourne. Whie not an official senior game for the club, Ray Slocum was named on the bench and came on for about two minutes so he could automatically qualify as a life member. Following that game he retired from senior football.
Slocum moved straight into coaching Fitzroy’s reserves. For the first year of his four year stint, he was playing-coach but retired from playing at all at the end of the 1967 season. In 1968, due to a sudden illness of Bill Stephen, it was Ray who took the reins of senior coach for one solitary match.
Ray Slocum resigned as Fitzroy reserves coach at the end of the 1970 season and went out and coached Eltham in the Diamond Valley league coaching the club to a senior premiership in 1972.
In 2001 Ray Slocum was nominated for the Fitzroy Team of the Century and was rapt to be so considered. “I thought it was an honour because for an ordinary player, as I class myself, to be put amongst those was a sheer delight. So I was rapt. It was a pleasure and a surprise. It was nice to be thought of in that manner.” he said later on.
The Fitzroy Football Club would like to pass on its condolences to Ray's family.
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30 years on from a near premiership - Fitzroy's influence lives on.
9.00 am Friday 4th October 2013
An errant paddle of a ball over the boundary line, a dubious free kick and the last snatch at greatness for Fitzroy had faded.
If the footy gods had have acted with foresight in mind perhaps the result of the 1983 Qualifying Final would have been different and we would this year be celebrating 30 years since old Fitzroy played in a Grand Final.
A four-point loss to eventual Premiers Hawthorn in the Qualifying Final turned into a straight sets exit via Essendon in the first Semi Final.
Had the Lions been winners in that nail-biter they would have gone into a second Semi Final against top-placed North Melbourne.
Fitzroy had thumped North by 45 points in Round 2, and then humiliated them by 150 points in Round 13 and they were all that stood in the way of a Fitzroy Grand Final that would have been its first since 1944.
That 1983 team was the best of the Fitzroy teams that grasped for success through the 1980s that also included a Preliminary Final appearance in 1986 and finals appearances in 1981 and 1984.
30 years have passed and sadly Fitzroy was out of the AFL after 13 of them.
However the football stories of 2013 have had a distinct Fitzroy flavour of the era, even if the connection has not been made since we are so far removed from this time.
Arguably the three most talked about coaches of 2013 that didn’t have connections to supplement regimes are products of 1980s Fitzroy.
The most sought-after coach in football (Paul Roos), the coach presiding over the fairytale rise of the season (Ken Hinkley) and the coach that takes his team into a grand final and is widely acknowledged as the coach that has the greatest influence on his team (Ross Lyon), all started their elite football lives at Fitzroy in the 1980s.
The Swans also have a continued Fitzroy connection post-Roos with assistant coach John Blakey. But it’s not just coaching where Fitzroy makes it mark.
No less than three club CEOs played in Fitzroy teams of the 1980s. Gary Pert at Collingwood, Keith Thomas at Port Adelaide and Michael Nettlefold at St Kilda (who had the aforementioned deliberate out of bounds paid against him in 1983). But it doesn’t stop there, Fitzroy cult hero Mick Conlan is CEO of AFL Queensland and was linked with a role at the Brisbane Lions recently.
Scott Clayton is one of the most respected football operators in the country and is responsible for assembling the talent-laden Gold Coast Suns as List Manager, and played at Fitzroy.
A Fitzroy captain, Matt Rendell has bounced back from the controversy of 2012 to pick up a recruiting role at Collingwood. Leon Harris is a Development Manager for AFL Victoria, Tony Woods looks after the international expansion of the game at the AFL and Alastair Lynch is a player manager and Fox Footy analyst.
All played at Fitzroy in the 1980s, but it’s not just the players. Fitzroy’s coaches during the 1980s, Robert Walls, David Parkin and Rod Austin have all had continued influence in footy, Walls and Parkin via subsequent coaching and media and Austin through a long-time role at AFL HQ in footy operations.
For a club that was removed from the AFL in 1996, it seems to be an inordinate influence given it wasn’t winning Premierships. Contrast Hawthorn during this time and the life-long gravitas Premiership success gives to its players that sets up media and other football related post-playing careers. It may be mere coincidence, but much like North Melbourne players of the 90s talk about the lack of facilities and ‘shinboner spirit’ there seems to have been an element of resourcefulness at Fitzroy that has carried on through its alumni.
There was no question that Fitzroy in the 1980s was the club without a home (three different home grounds during the 1980s), with a dwindling supporter base, and without a dollar. The poorest of all the poor cousins of the VFL.
They were fighting losing battles on three fronts, and it took significant and creative coaching efforts and innovative recruiting (think the rise of Mark Dwyer from Koroit Seniors to 10 Brownlow votes all during the 1986 season) to keep the team competitive on the field while the wolves were kept form the door off-field. Did the extra dimension foisted upon Fitzroy players of the 1980s give them a different outlook on the game, a more rounded education with a football club flying by the seat of its pants on all fronts.
Walls once fired at Kevin Sheedy about not having the full footy experience , spending his career at successful clubs while Walls pioneered in Brisbane as well as his time at Fitzroy. Being a Fitzroy player during this time must have been one of the most turbulent atmospheres that a player could ever fall into with the constant talk of financial solvency, relocation, mergers.
In a strange way this turbulence may have given these ‘Roy Boys’ a slice of the resourcefulness among football chaos along with their own drive, hard work and talent that has elevated them above the pack in the industry.
The Club itself lives on the VAFA, playing in Premier B in 2014 and has a merger agreement with the Brisbane Bears- Fitzroy Football Club (that trades as and is known by the wider footballing public as the 'Brisbane Lions').
It could be argued that the Fitzroy influence in 2013 is greater now than it has ever been since their exit from the AFL in 1996.
Bunton named as captain of ACT Team of the Century.
11.00 am Sunday 29th September 2013
Former Fitzroy superstar Haydn Bunton Snr has been named captain of the ACT and Southern NSW Team of the Century.
Bunton, who was born and raised in Albury, News South Wales, is widely regarded as one of the game’s greatest ever players, having won three Brownlow Medals in a career that spanned just 119 senior VFL games.
He is also an AFL Hall of Fame Legend and a member of the AFL Team of the Century.
Bunton was one of two former Fitzroy greats to be selected in the team, alongside Michael Conlan who played 210 matches for the Lions from 1977-89.
Despite originally hailing from Tasmania, Conlan played the majority of his junior football at the Manuka Football Club in the ACT, before being recruited to Fitzroy.
The entire 24-man team includes eight members of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, 22 VFL/AFL Premierships and seven Brownlow Medals in a reflection of the strength of the region over the past 100 years. The ACT and Southern NSW Team of the Century selection panel was chaired by GIANTS inaugural Head Coach Kevin Sheedy and included Brian Quade, Greg Carroll and Tony Peek.
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Royboy Ross Lyon to coach in his third AFL Grand Final.
8.00 am Friday 27th September 2013
Former Fitzroy player Ross Lyon has a chance to etch his name in the history books if he can coach the Fremantle Dockers to their first AFL premiership at the MCG tomorrow afternoon against Hawthorn, who themselves will be chasing their 11th VFL-AFL premiership.
Ross Lyon played 127 games for Fitzroy betwen 1985 and 1994.
Well prepared, disciplined, hard at the contest; loyal to those around him; and brutal when the game called for it, Ross Lyon has brought those qualities to the teams that he has coached. The only thing that stopped Lyon being better than a very good performer over 127 games with Fitzroy was the thing that he could do nothing about - his body.
Lyon immediately made an impact at Fitzroy when he arrived for the 1985 season, playing five games to end the 1985 season under coach Robert Walls. And then his body failed him and the fall-out tested his relationship with the media for the first time.
He stood out of football for a year in 1986 after serious groin and back issues took him to the brink of early retirement. Others believed he was being courted by Carlton, who had just appointed Walls to the Blues main job. His Lions coach at the time, David Parkin, remembers driving out to Lyon's family home to have it out with him.
"I was going there to confront him about supposedly going to Carlton, because I knew Robert Walls was talking to him," Parkin said. "There was no doubt they were, but I took him at his word, and he said he would come back when he was ready.
"He had a personal problem I wasn’t sure of, that's why he shoved his parents into the back room, and told me: 'I don't want you persecuting me or ringing me up, but I will come back when I’m ready.”
True to his word, Lyon returned to Fitzroy a year later, with his head clear and his body repaired. His frustration with the media speculation that he was going to join Carlton lived with him for a long time.
Years later, Lyon said: "At that stage, I thought I would never play league footy again. Not that I didn't want to, but I just couldn't at the time because of my injury, so I dropped out football, and school (university) and virtually did nothing for a year. When I think about it now, it was a waste, but I was pretty down at the time, and it made me realise what I was missing."
When he returned, he committed totally to Fitzroy, and while the groin, shoulder and knee injuries restricted him, Lyon became one of the Lions’ most respected and - at times - feared footballers.
"Injuries cruelled him," Fitzroy coach and friend Robert Shaw recalled. "He never got to the point where his body allowed him to become the superstar he could have been." "But he would be in my top six toughest players I've ever been associated with. He was not only tough on the field, Rossy could be dangerous, at a time when you could be allowed to.
"He wasn't a thug or unfair, but if you happened to get between him and the ball, the consequences could be extreme."
Shaw said Lyon , who was once nicknamed 'Whispering Death', helped to guide Fitzroy through some tough times and could stop opposition with a roll of those eyes.
"If Rossy looked at you, he didn't need to say too much else," he said. "He just had the capacity to look at you and almost say 'take that as an official warning.'"
Lyon's career at Fitzroy ended in late 1994 and on the promise of good money and a part-time job (believed to be with Channel Seven) he looked to Sydney (where Paul Roos had gone to) to carry on his career. The only problem was that the Swans overshot their salary cap, so after briefly looking like he could end up on Fremantle's inaugural list, Lyon went to Brisbane, where he played two games before knee issues ended his career at 28. From there he went into coaching, coaching at Richmond, Sydney as an assistant before landing the top job at St Kilda and now Fremantle.
Not ony is there a Fitzroy - Fremantle connection with Ross Lyon, but former Fitzroy junior player Viv Michie is also currently on the Docker's senior list, making his AFL debut earlier this year in Round 14 against Geelong.
Fitzroy's short history against the Fremantle Football Club in the 1995 and 1996 season has also provided some memorable moments for both clubs.
The first came in Round 3 of the 1995 season when Fremantle 18.13.121 defeated Fitzroy 11.12.78 at the Western Oval to give the Dockers their first ever win in the AFL competition. In 1996 the roles were reversed when Fitzroy defeated Fremantle at the Western Oval to record the Lions' last ever victory in the AFL and their only victory in four matches against the club. On 1st September 1996 both sides met in the final round of the 1996 season at Subiaco Oval in what would be Fitzroy's last match in the AFL. It was left to Fremantle to farewell Fitzroy from the AFL.
Fitzroy's last win in the AFL vs. Fremantle at the Western Oval
Fitzroy's last game in the AFL vs. Fremantle at Subiaco Oval
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Fitzroy Football Club turned 130 on 26th September.
11.00 am Wednesday 26th September 2013
The Fitzroy Football Club was founded on the 26th September 1883 at a meeting at the Brunswick Hotel (now the Old Colonial Inn, pictured left) in Fitzroy. The history of the Club over the past 130 years has been at times exhiliarating with nine premierships, eight Brownlow Medallists and numeorus finals appearances. However it has also experienced some devastating lows, including the 1966 season where the Club failed to win a game and was forced to move from its spiritual home at the Brunswick Street Oval and of course the events of 1996 where the Club was ejected from the AFL competition - a competition it had helped to found in 1897.
Football had always been popular in Fitzroy. The area boasted several junior football clubs, and local boys who were good enough could always play with the Carlton club. But that was not enough. In a suburb like Fitzroy, in a city experiencing undreamt of economic expansion there was a need for a senior club to bear the suburb's name - to be part of the wild nationalism that was sweeping the country, and to show wealthier, 'better' suburbs that Fitzroy had come of age.
There had long been rumours that a senior club would be formed in Fitzroy. A year before the first meeting to set up the Club was held, the Sportsman reported confidently, that some of the foremost players of Northcote and East Melbnourne intended to play next season with the new senior club, the Fitzroy Club, "which promised to take a very good position."
The VFA's rejection of the Normanby Junior Football Club's application to be admitted to senior ranks in 1882 set the scene for the formation of the Fitzroy Club. Normanby had drawn its players from the Fitzroy area, was well organised and supported and was the logical choice as the senior team for Fitzroy. Its rejection caused its officials and other prominent Fitzroy citizens to make other plans for the suburb's senior club. It was because of these events that George Toms decided to call a meeting at the Brunswick Hotel, owned by an official of the Normanby club, on Wednesday 26th September 1883, to discuss the formation of a senior Fitzroy Football Club. Sixty-eight people, including well known footballers and former Fitzroy mayor John McMahon, who chaired the meeting, attended.
According to a local press report "all seemed agreed that it was time Fitzroy awoke from its lethargy and came forward to honourably hold its own against any of the surrounding districts." Resolutions that a senior club be formed and that it be called the Fitzroy Football Club were carried unanimously. A provisional committee of management was formed and the meeting was then adjourned untl the 10th October.
Twenty four people attended the next meeting on the 10th October. The meeting accepted the provisional committee's recommendation that the colours of the club were to be a 'blue cap and nickerbockers, maroon jersey and hose'. The secretary was instructed to write to the VFA and arrange for Fitzroy to become a member. The newly formed club began enrolling its first members at five shillings each. Messrs Lindsay, Kirkam, Rogers, Nudd, Stone, McClelland, Trinnick, Elliott, Callopy and Simpson became Fitzroy's first members. John McMahon, who was also a local tailor, ordered the jerseys and stockings from England, because the colours that had been chosen were unobtainable in the colony. One hundred maroon and blue tickets were printed and a further 200 tickets were ordered. Because of the speed that the Club had been formed, the VFA changed its rules requiring a list of the previous year's financial members so that Fitzroy could be admitted and send delegates to Association meetings.
Fitzroy's first ever game was on 26th April 1884 against the Richmond Union Junior Football Club in front of about a thousand people.
130 years later and after 249 VFA matches, 1,928 VFL-AFL matches and 96 VAFA matches as well as nine senior premierships (one VFA, eight VFL-AFL), four reserves premierships (three VFL-AFL, one VAFA), three U/19 premierships (two VFL-AFL and one VAFA), the Fitzroy Football Club continues to "see it through." Long may the Club continue to do so.
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Memories of the Junction Oval #5: Fitzroy roars in '44.
8.00 am Friday 23rd August 2013
It wasn't a Fitzroy home game of the 1970's and 80's, but this Junction Oval moment was just as famous, if not more famous, in the annals of Fitzroy history. Approaching what is now sixty-nine years ago, just down the road from Sandringham at the Junction Oval, Fitzroy's senior side reached the 1944 VFL Grand Final which was played against Richmond in front of 43,000 fans.
Saturday, 30 September 1944 wasn’t your average Grand Final day in Melbourne either. World War II was still raging, making the MCG unavailable, so the football focus turned to the Junction Oval. (later to be Fitzroy's home ground from 1970 to 1984.)
A tram and bus strike caused transport chaos in sweltering 30-degree heat as 1500 people packed train after train for the four-minute journey from Flinders Street to St Kilda. Even before game time twelve people were taken away by ambulance as sections within the capacity-plus crowd of 43,000 climbed trees, fences and roofs in search of a good vantage point. Still, it was a day that Fitzroy people will treasure forever, even with the club these days removed from the VFL-AFL competition. It was the club’s eighth premiership in the VFL, ninth overall (and remains to this day the club's last senior premiership).
The Gorillas, as they were unofficially known as (although most people still called them the 'Maroons' or just 'Roys'), had finished second after the 18-game home-and-away season with 13 wins, a meagre 0.1% behind top side Richmond. They beat the Tigers, under captain-coach Jack Dyer, by 11 points in the second semi-final to qualify for their first grand final since 1923.
Since their last premiership in 1922, Fitzroy hard fallen on hard times. However piece by piece Fitzroy's secretary Percy Mitchell had rebuilt the Fitzroy side at the beginning of the 1940s. He assembled a team of exciting youngsters and surrounded them with experienced players that he recruited from other clubs. The jigsaw was complete by 1942 when Fred Hughson accepted the offer to be captain-coach of the team - an offer that shocked Hughson but one he accepted.
Hughson was greatly admired at Fitzroy as a man and as a footballer. Fearless, he always protected his smaller team-mates and a had a booming kick, setting an official world record wth a drop kick in 1943 at the Brunwick Street Oval in 1943 in a game against South Melbourne. Hughson's leadership was inspirational and his teams played with great spirit and loyalty.
Yet Fitzroy still started slight underdogs in the ‘big one’ for 1944 after Richmond ruckman Les Jones was granted late leave from the army to take his place in the side after he was initially ruled unavailable. A rumour swept the football world that defender Leo Monaghan was on his way back from army service to play with Fitzroy, although there was no truth in this.
The late Clen Denning who played in the back pocket that day, recalled that "We wanted to beat them, we weren't frightened of them. We'd played them in the Preliminary Final in '43 and they beat us; so in '44 we hit them before they hit us. We learned a lesson. They'd hit blokes. We wouldn't let them do that again in '44."
Fitzroy captain-coach Fred Hughson, deeply admired and respected by his team, bravely kicked into a strong north wind in winning coin toss. From a scrambly start Fitzroy kicked the first goal, when Ken Sier popped the ball through after dodging a pack of players. Pursuing the ball 'like bees' Fitzroy swamped every Tiger move and scrambled the ball forward. Nearing the end of the first term, Richmond had only a seven point lead and desperately needed goals to put it in a safe position to fight the wind assisted Fitzroy in the second quarter. Hughson was delighted to restrict Richmond to a one-goal lead by the fist change.
From the start of the second term, Richmond attacked aggressively and got a much needed goal from a long kick which bounced through. Disorganised play and long shots at goals only resulted in behinds for the Maroons. Richmond was spoiling Fitzroy and hugging the boundary on the outer wing. Clen Denning flattened Jack Dyer, after Dyer tried to flatten him. It wasn't until about the fifteen-minute mark that Fitzroy's Stan Wright kicked his team's first major score for the term. Soon after, a shot for goal by Bruce Calverley was touched and scores were level. Within minutes Sam Dawson broke out of a pack and passed to Alan Ruthven, who slammed on Fitzroy's third goal and put them six points in front. Without wasting time Bruce Calverley gathered the ball and goaled from a long runnig shot. The underdogs led a fierce physical battle by two goals at halftime.
During the half time break, the wind dropped. When the game resumed both teams were once again doing their best to smother the ball. The scrambly play continued until Keith Stackpole marked in front of goal and made no mistake. Realising the challenge they faced, the Tigers responded with two quick goals. With both backlines in devastating form, further scoring proved difficult. Finally Jack (Tangle) Symons (who had played with Richmond the previous season) broke out of a pack and snapped Fitzroy's sixth goal. Fitzroy led by 11 points at the final change and were going into the final quarter with the wind.
By midway through the last term, Richmond had pegged Fitzroy back to a nine point advantage and was looking dangerous. But Fitzroy steadied. Calverley took a handpass from Ruthven and passed to Sier who goaled. Randall replied for the Tigers. Stackpole snapped the Maroon's eighth goal and later Wilson was able to respond for the Tigers. The game was still far from over, but neither side could capitalise in front of goal.
Finally Sier goaled again, minutes before the bell, and put the game firmly in Fitzroy's grasp. The Maroons ran out winners and premiers by fifteen points.
The diamond jubilee premiership (it was Fitzroy's 60th year of competition in the VFA and the VFL) had been won by a determined team of 'tradesmen.'
Fred Hughson paid tribute to the brilliant form of individual players and added: "The only thing that gave victory and the premiership is that the main strength is the players' team spirit and teamwork. They played magnificently." Bert Clay was outstanding in the ruck, Bruce Calverley dominated in the midfield, and Ken Sier and Keith Stackpole were dangerous up forward. Hughson at fullback kept ‘Captain Blood’ Dyer to one goal in a telling contribution. Many observers rated winger Calverley best on ground and the Sun-News Pictorial noted that he was a driving force through the game. Calverley's Grand Final performance was a personal triumph as he collected a loose elbow early in the season and suffered a fractured cheekbone.
The Fitzroy heirarchy obviously disagreed with the media and presented centre half back Norm Hillard with a special trophy as "best player" in the Grand Final while Noel Price won a medal for 'most determined' in the Grand Final. Despite those individual accolades, Hughson explained his team had won because it had players "who would bleed for Fitzroy … really bleed. It wasn’t just for the money, it was for love. Love of the club, pride in themselves. It was a fantastic feeling".
Fitzroy's celebrations were all the more intense because the previous week, the Seconds had also won the Flag. The Maroons' seconds had defeated Collingwood at Victoria Park. It was the Seconds' first premiership since 1911 and by an incredible co-incidence the Seconds also won by fifteen points! 1944 was also the only occasion in Fitzroy's history where the Club achieved the double of a seniors and a reserves premiership in the one season.
Generous supporters donated the extraordinary sum of £375 to be divided among players and staff, and later that evening officials, players, trainers and supporters gathered at Brunswick Street Oval for a premiership dinner-dance, celebrating the premiership double of the seniors and reserves. The Mayor of Fitzroy, Keith Parlon, announced that the premiership pennant would be flown from the Fitzroy Town Hall for a week to mark the magnificent victory. Fitzroy's unofficial poet laureate Norm Byron wrote a special song (to the tune "It's a great day for the Irish") and copies were sold for three pence each to raise funds for the club.
The Final scores in the 1944 Grand Final were Fitzroy 1.2, 4.8, 6.10, 9.12 (66) defeated Richmond 2.2, 3.2, 5.5, 7.9 (51) by 15 points.
Goals: Sier 3, Stackpole 2, Calverley, Symons, Wright, Ruthven.
Best: Calverley, Hillard, Price, Hughson, Hearn, Clay.
B: Clen Denning Fred Hughson (c) Alan Fields
HB: Laurie Bickerton Norm Hillard Arthur O'Bryan
C: Bruce Calverley George Hoskins Noel Jarvis
HF: Stan Dawson Stan Wright Noel Price
F: Maurie Hearn Ken Sier Keith Stackpole
Foll: Bert Clay Jack Symons Allan Ruthven
Reserve(s): Dan Murray (father of Kevin Murray)
Coach: Fred Hughson
B: Max Oppy George Smeaton Charlie Priestley
HB: Bernie Waldron Leo Maguire Bill Perkins
C: Leo Merrett Fred Cook Bert Edwards
HF: Arthur Mooney Brian Randall Les Jones
F: Bob Bawden Jack Scott Fred Burge
Foll: Jack Dyer (c) Bill Morris Bill Wilson
Reserve(s): Keith Cook
Coach: Jack Dyer
Umpire - Eric Hawkins
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Memories of the Junction Oval #4: Fitzroy scrapes into finals as Bernie kicks another ton.
8.00 am Thursday 22nd August 2013
For many Fitzroy supporters, 1983 was the season that got away - the one where Fitzroy could have broken their thirty-nine year premiership drought.
1984 started with some promise given the results of the previous season, but surprisingly to many, after nine rounds the Lions were last on the VFL ladder wth just one win. Halfway through the season the Lions were languishing in 10th position. They were going nowhere, had nothing to look forward to and were playing an indirect and quite often sloppy brand of football.
The turning point, according to coach Robert Walls, came after the split round six weeks before when Fitzroy were thumped by Essendon at Windy Hill. After that Walls said they set themselves a target. I said let's try for five wins out of the next six games and some of the guys said, 'let's go for six'.
By the time of last home and away in 1984 (Round 22), Fitzroy had improved to seventh (courteous of a six game winning streak), a game behind Geelong (fifth) and Footscray (sixth), but with a superior percentage.
They had defeated Hawthorn by 10 points in Round 17, Melbourne by 32 in Round 18, Collingwood by 42 in Round 19, Geelong by 38 in Round 20 and North Melbourne by 54 points in Round 22 to come within a game of participating in the finals. But only if the result from two other matches - Collingwood vs. Footscray at Victoria Park and Hawthorn vs. Geelong at VFL Park fell their way.
The first inkling that Fitzroy would play finals in 1984 came early in the first quarter of the game. By then the relatively small crowd of 15,000 that had come to watch the last game at the Junction had grown bored with proceedings on the field, after Bernie Quinlan (pictured above with Robert Walls after the conclusion of the Round 22 match) had notched up his second successive century of goals.
The progressive scores from other grounds only went up on the scoreboards at the end of each quarter, but by that time everyone knew that out at VFL Park, Geelong was finished - Hawthorn had played its part. All that remained was for Collingwood to beat the Dogs at Victoria Park and Fitzroy would somehow, improbably, be in the finals.
A massive buzz went through the crowd six minutes into the final quarter. The ball was up on the Fitzroy half-forward line and the transistors around the ground were at full volume when Ron Andrews kicked a goal at Victoria Park, effectively ending any last chance Footscray had of beating Collingwood. Then shortly after, Richard Osborne put the ball through the sticks for Fitzroy and the crowd went up again. This time there was wild cheering from the Fitzroy faithful. When the final siren went, the curtain finally went down on the Junction Oval as a VFL-AFL venue.
It was fitting that Osborne should have been in control of the ball when the news came through that the Lions were in the Final Five. For he, more than any other helped put together Fitzroy's 57 point victory over St Kilda. Osborne had 23 kicks, kicked five goals, took nine marks and four handballs.
There were many others who played smiliar games up in defence. The Lions had Michael Reeves to deflect the odd St Kilda forward thrust. He put up a creditable performance on young St Kilda forward Tony Lockett who kicked four goals.
And then there was Doug Barwick. In the absence of Micky Conlan who was out of the senior side due to a toe operation, along came Barwick, Conlan's physical understudy who grabbed his chance of the big time.
While Barwick had played well all year, he played few better games than this match. He only had eight kicks - perhaps a small amount for a player of his calibre - but the way he used them he might as well have had 80. He booted four goals and was most notable for his strength in the packs and the 'Conlanesque' feature of his running play.
After the match, coach Robert Walls dropped his normally guarded and reserved approach to journalists to grin from ear to ear and say he couldn't believe it. The Lions were in the five after everyone has written them off. Once again Fitzroy were the glamour side and with perhaps the best running team in the League, they were widely considered to be capable of winning the Flag, even from fifth position.
Alas. It was not to be. Fitzroy, having stumbled into the Five, played fourth placed Collingwood in the Elimination Final at the MCG and was no match for the Magpies who won by 46 points to yet again end a premiership dream. Fitzroy champions Garry Wilson and David McMahon both retired after this loss.
With Fitzroy's last match at the Junction an era had come to an end and while there was to be one more superlative season in 1986, some in hindsight considered it the beginning of the end for Fitzroy's participation in the VFL-AFL competition.
Watch the video below to see Bernie Quinlan kick his 100th goal for Season 1984 at the Junction Oval, the second time he has achieved this feat.
Memories of the Junction Oval #3: Bernie kicks the ton.
7.00 pm Tuesday 20th August 2013
No one word better sums up goal-kicking superstar Bernie Quinlan than the popular nickname he inherited at Fitzroy.
Quinlan was a wonderful player at Footscray, but it wasn't until he made the move to Fitzroy in 1978 that he won the acclaim as a genuine powerhouse of the VFL. He is as decorated a player as any who has pulled on the Fitzroy guernsey. The only honour that eluded him during his long career was a premiership medallion.
The son of Fitzroy reserves player Frank Quinlan, Bernie played his early football at Traralgon in Gippsland and was zoned to Footscray. He made his VFL debut in Round 12 of 1969, ironically against Fitzroy, when he was days short of his 18th birthday, and kicked four goals.
A centre half-forward by trade, Quinlan was moved to full-forward later in his career and caused opposition defenders a world of headaches.
Equipped with arguably the most lethal right boot our game has ever seen, he made an art form of comfortably kicking goals from anywhere within a 60m range of the big sticks.
Quinlan reached the peak of his powers in the twilight of his career, winning the 1981 Brownlow Medal at the age of 30, finishing Runner-Up in Fitzroy's Best & Fairest award over three successive years, and leading the Club's goal-kicking in every season from 1981-1985.
With 576 goals from his 189 matches with Fitzroy, Quinlan's name will be forever immortalised in Club folklore.
To many aspiring forwards in the eighties and nineties and irrespective of their football allegiances, Bernie Quinlan was their hero. To many Fitzroy supporters he was a footballing god.
Quite apart from his Brownlow Season in 1981, he is chiefly feted by Fitzroy supporters as the only player in Club history to boot over 100 goals in a single VFL season and it happened at the Junction Oval in front of an adoring home crowd in Round 21 1983 against Fitzroy's arch-enemy Collingwood.
A twenty-six point loss to Footscray the week before the game had put Fitzroy under extreme pressure to maintain either second or third position and the 'double chance' in the then Final Five finals system. It had to both defeat an improving Collingwood and an unimpressive Richmond in the last two rounds to secure third or second spot.
Despite the predictions of some commentators the Lions rose to the challenge against the Magpies. Apart from the pressure such a game would impose on the players, there was also the added pressure of Quinlan trying to kick two goals to give him 100 for the season.
The game at the Junction Oval was to do much to restore the Lions' dented pride. Players approached the game as if it was a final. Through fierce tackling and precision foot and hand passing the Lions overran the Magpies midway through the second quarter and by half time had a handy twenty-three point lead.
In the third term Collingwood had the aid of the breeze, but through tenancious play by Fitzroy's defenders it was kept goalless until well into the quarter. When the goal came, it was the first the Magpies had kicked since the fourteen minute mark of the first term.
In the final term Fitzroy reduced Colingwood to a pathetic rabble and at the 17 minute mark, a goal by Quinlan made him the first Fitzroy player to kick 100 goals in a season. Quinlan was about seventy metres out from goal when he took a beautiful pass from Bradley Gotch. With a mighty kick Quinlan finally notched up his century. It was a classic Quinlan goal - one which will live long in the memories of those present. As soon as the goal umpire signalled a goal, thousands of young fans leapt the fence and ran onto the ground to congratulate the champion. In fact two sections of the picket fence were broken as people streamed onto the ground. The game was stopped for about four minutes and the electronic score board flashed '100'. Quinlan became the first player to play 300 games, win a Brownlow Medal and kick 100 goals. Quinlan said later that when he was about to take his kick he thought "Blow the century, I'm going to kick the case off it." He also said that the game had been a nightmare as he struggled to get the two goals he needed.
His ninety-ninth goal had come late in the second quarter (also from a pass from Brad Gotch) and at the twenty-seventh minute mark of the third quarter Quinlan looked certain to notch up his 100th. Quinlan had taken a strong mark about thirty metres out from goal and was on a slight angle. As he lined up, children started climbing the fence, eager to congratulate their hero. There seemed little doubt that he would goal, but instead he kicked out of bounds on the full!
After kicking his 100th goal, Quinlan kicked another to give him three for the game. Reaching the century was a great relief for Quinlan and Fitzroy coach Robert Walls. Quinlan described it as a 'bloody relief' and confessed that during the last quarter he doubted whether he would reach the century. "I thought I wouldn't do it. I thought I'd be waiting until next week." Walls said: "I think Bernie was very happy to get the 100 goals, because in the last three games people thought he'd get them. Now that he has got it, I'm sure he's happy and it'll take a bit of the pressure off him."
With Collingwood accounted for by sixty four points, Fitzroy went on to defeat Richmond by 34 points in the last home and away game, securing the double chance by finishing third behind Hawthorn and top of the ladder North Melbourne. Despite an avalanche of goals from Quinlan in the final quarter (he kicked 5) of the Qualifying Final against Hawthorn, Fitzroy fell short by an agonsing four points. They then lost the following week's First Semi-Final against Essendon by twenty-three points ending their season. Quinlan finished with 116 goals for the season, - still an all-time Club high.
Watch the footage of Bernie Quinlan's efforts to kick the final two goals for his ton at the Junction in 1983 - one of Fitzroy's greatest moments at the Junction Oval.
Check back at the Fitzroy website all this week to re-live more famous Fitzroy moments at the Junction Oval
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Memories of the Junction Oval #2: Fitzroy smashes the top of the ladder team.
8.00 am Tuesday 20th August 2013
In many ways 1983 was the highlight of Fitzroy's modern history. Not having won a VFL-AFL premiership since 1944, Fitzroy supporters felt that 1983 might be their year to break the long premiership drought.
While the premiership dream was not to be realised, the Club had a very successful season with the Seniors, Reserves and Thirds all making finals for the only time in the Club's VFL-AFL history. One of the highlights of the season was the Round 13 Fitzroy vs. North Melbourne match at the Junction Oval on June 18th.
A ladder-leading Fitzroy had opened up a two game lead over second placed North Melbourne by Round 10. However two losses against Footscray (Round 10) and Hawthorn (Round 12) saw them replaced by North Melbourne at the top of the ladder. The Round 13 clash between Fitzroy and North was a case of 3rd playing 1st.
After their 33 point loss to the Hawks the week before few commentators gave Fitzroy much chance of toppling the Kangaroos. North had emerged as favourites for the flag and the game against Fitzroy was billed as a 'mini grand final'.
Before the game on 18th June few of the crowd of 19,770 could have guessed they were about to witness one of the most remarkable games in modern football history.
After their loss to Hawthorn the Lions took no chances in their preparation of players for the game. Indeed coach Robert Walls told the team they were to treat the game as a grand final. The Lions were expecting a hard game as three weeks earlier North had demoslished the reigning premiers. Carlton, by 111 points.
From the first bounce every Fitzroy player contributed his all to wining the ball and beating his opponent. By the ten minute mark of the first quarter, Fitzroy had scored an impressive 5 goals 2 behinds to 0. However most spectators were aware that a thirty-two point lead could be wiped out in a very short amount of time by a team such as North.
By quarter time Fitzroy had added a further 2 goals and North 2 goals and 2 behinds. If there was a rally by North Melbourne during the game, it must have come during the second term when the Kangaroos added 6 goals 1 behind to Fitzroy's 5 goals 5.The remainder of the game seemed to defy reason. No team could have played as well as Fitzroy did in the second half. In a tour de force of football brilliance Fitzroy inflicted the greatest defeat suffered by any team on the top of the VFL ladder.
Although North scored just two goals 7 behinds in the two remaining quarters, Fitzroy piled on 21 goals 8 behinds.
Fitzroy's final score of 34 goals and 16 behinds was the third highest score in VFL history to that point. It was 18 points short of the League record of 36 goals 22 behinds set by Fitzroy in 1979 against Melbourne and at that time just 2 points behind the second highest score, kicked by Richmond against St Kilda in 1980.
For Fitzroy the game was full of fine individual and team performances. One of Fitzroy's best was nineteen-year-old Richard Osborne, who in only his ninth game was given the task of holding North's captain wayne Schimmelbusch. Osborne was able to take Schimmelbusch out of the game and still make a significant personal contribution to Fitzroy's record.
But the best player for Fitzroy and the best man on the ground was Matt Rendell. Fitzroy coach Robert Walls had advised ruckman Matt Rendell to drop into the hole behind centre half-forward and instructed the Fitzroy players to kick to him; the plan was to foil North Melbourne ruckman Gary Dempsey's practice of marking in the last line of defence. It worked so well that Rendell kicked eight goals, while Mick Conlan and Bernie Quinlan both kicked seven. "Everything just clicked," said Quinlan, who denied a suggestion that he often tried to boot the ball into the Junction Oval scoreboard.
One of the most remarkable individual performances was that of rugged Michael Conlan. Conlan had managed only one kick by half time and was disgusted with his form. However Robert Walls took Conlan aside and reasured him that even the best players could start a game poorly. Walls told him that he had once failed badly in the first half of a game and ended the game with a bag of goals. Conlan says that Walls' advice was the tonic he needed. Conlan came back on the ground at the start of the third term determined to win the ball. And win the ball he did. In the last two quarters Conlan had 13 kicks and kicked 7 goals.
Fitzroy's performance against North Melbourne that day was arguably the most skilled and professional in the Club's history. Indeed given the calibre of the opposition, it may have been the best performance of any VFL team. Certainly from Paul Roos' perspective it was one of those rare games that was fun from the time the ball was bounced until the final siren sounds.
The magnitude of the defeat made some pundits claim no VFL team could be 150 points better than another VFL team. No team could be that good. But Walls disagreed. The evidence was on the score-board - 220 points to 70. "We did it and you have to be good enough to do it," Walls said. "That's why I'm not saying it was fairytale stuff. The players are wearing a lot of bruises - and they did it." Paul Roos agreed. "Sure we had big wins aginat poor opposition, but to win by over 100 points against a premiership favourite is nearly impossible. This proved just how good a team we were when everyone was playing well."
The win bosted Fitzroy's percentage by 11.4% to 133.8% and restored it to the top of the ladder. The loss caused North's percentage to fall by more than 17 points and it slipped to third.
Truly one of the great Junction Oval moments.
Check out some footage from the first quarter of the match below.
Watch the World of Sport interview the following day discussing the 150 point victory with Robert Walls and Barry Cable and later on, an interview with best on ground Matt Rendell.
Check out the Fitzroy website all this week to re-live more famous Fitzroy moments at the Junction Oval
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Memories of the Junction Oval: The Fog Game.
9.00 am Monday 19th August 2013
Surely there has never been a more bizarre game of VFL/AFL football than the match between Fitzroy and Carlton at the Junction Oval, St Kilda in August 1971.
Needing a solid win over the Lions to keep their faint finals chances alive, Carlton trailed by 15 points as the second half of the game began – just as the bright sunshine was obliterated by an enormous wall of fog that rolled over the ground from nearby Port Phillip Bay. The fog was so dense that suddenly, players only metres apart couldn't see each other, and were forced to rely on their ears as much as their eyes in an effort to find the ball.
The photo to the left is one of AFL football's most famous images. It features the late Jamie Shanahan (in the No. 38 Fitzroy jumper on the left) and Carlton's Geoff Southby (No. 20) staring into the dense fog.
Geoff Southby recalls that game. "I found my way to Full Back and to Paul Shanahan, who was as amazed as me by the fog. We could barely see 25 metres in front of us. The game continued with players, coaches, umpires and spectators completely confused by the incredibly restricted vision. The game should have been called off but it continued."
Meanwhile, the scorers and time keepers caught just brief glimpses of the play, and had to use the emergency umpire to relay the scores.
In the end, Fitzroy’s local knowledge gave them the edge. While the Blues groped around in the murk, the Lions finished all over them. Late in the final quarter, the ball came bouncing past Carlton ruckman Peter Jones who had dropped back into defence. 'There it is!’ he shouted - and a Fitzroy opponent pounced on the ball and goaled.
Fitzroy won by four goals, and Carlton missed the finals by 2 points.
Check out the Fitzroy website all this week to re-live more famous Fitzroy moments at the Junction Oval
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Fitzroy returns to the Junction Oval!
10.00 pm Saturday 17th August 2013
For the first time since 1984, the Fitzroy Football Club will return to the Junction Oval (also known as the St Kilda Cricket Ground) this coming weekend for a game of football, when they take on the Old Melburnians in the final home and away game for Season 2014.
Fitzroy's home ground from 1970 to 1984, the Junction Oval was the original home ground of the St Kilda Football Club. The Saints played home games at the venue until 1964.
Fitzroy moved to the ground in 1970 from Princes Park, but the ground had a connection with Fitzroy long before 1970. The ground hosted a total of six finals series matches including two semi-finals, one preliminary final and three grand finals in 1898, 1899 and 1944. Fitzroy won all grand finals played at the venue.
The Junction became Fitzroy's home away from home. Forced to move from the Brunswick Street Oval in 1966, the Club had looked at a move to St Kilda in time for the 1967 season. However despite the St Kilda's Crcket's Club's eagerness to have Fitzroy as a tenant, a large number of the cricket club's mebers and supporters had quashed it, as had happened to earlier plans for Fitzroy to take over the Preston Football Ground. Instead Fitzroy negotiated a move to Princes Park as a co-tenant with the Carlton Football Club. By 1969, after three unsuccessful seasons, the Club was negotiating for the second time a move to the Junction Oval. Fitzroy's plans to go to St Kilda prompted a Supreme Court writ from Carlton which claimed that Fitzroy in 1967 had agreed to play at Princes Park for twenty-one years. The writ failed and with the VFL's blessing and further failure to reach agreement with the Fitzroy City Council over a possible return to the Brunswick Street Oval, Fitzroy made the move in time for the 1970 season.
The ground quickly became identified with Fitzroy. A grandstand formerly known as the G.P. Newman Stand after a St Kilda cricketer, was re-named the Kevin Murray Grandstand (after one of Fitzroy's finest ever footballers) on the 25th March 1972 before the final pre-season practice match of the season.
In their 15 year tenure at the ground Fitzroy played 135 games for 75 wins, 59 losses and 1 draw.The record attendance for a Fitzroy home game was 27,202 versus Collingwood in the opening round of 1981. Their last match at the ground was against former tenant St Kilda on 1st September 1984. On that occasion Fitzroy 24.20.164 defeated St Kilda 15.17.107 by 57 points in front of 15,156 fans.
The Fitzroy players and supporters embraced life at the Junction Oval. Former player, captain and coach Bill Stephen said it was a superb ground, a home team ground in a lot of ways. "It had a dull bounce...because it was so sandy and so well grassed - the ball would hit the ground and it wouldn't come up like a normal ball." Paul Roos who made his senior debut in 1982 and spent three seasons playing on the ground said "I've got great memories of the Junction Oval. I really enjoyed training there, the surface of the ground was really, really good and I remember in the middle of winter most other clubs were struggling to get on their grounds because they were so muddy. It was located in a good area with other grounds surronding it and I remember on game day walking through the car park, all the cars and the buzz of the people, then walking down the stairs into the change rooms and knowing that when we'd run out we'd pretty much have a full crowd every week. It was a very initmate ground, the atmosphere was great and very, very Fitzroy."
Fitzroy bade farewell to the Junction Oval in fine style with a 57 point thumping of original ground tenants St Kilda in Round 22, 1984 - a match in which Bernie Quinlan reached one hundred goals for the second year in a row. Why Fitzroy left was because of then VFL's ground rationalisation policy where clubs either had to share a ground or be solely entrenched in their ground if the facilities were up to a certain standard. Several other VFL clubs had left their original home grounds to play at either the MCG, VFL Park, Princes Park, Victoria Park or the Western Oval. Fitzroy certainly preferred to stay at the Junction Oval, but the VFL deemed the faclities not good enough for League standard in particular the amount of available seating. Even though new Fitzroy chairman Brian White declared in the Annual Report that the "Junction Oval...does not have the faciliites available to attract large crowds or meet sponsor requirements", t Paul Roos labelled it as the beginning of the end for Fitzroy in the VFL-AFL competition stating in 1997 that: "This as much as anything, was a huge factor in Fitzroy's struggle to survive. The move away from the Junction for match days was perhaps unavoidable but it was disastrous to our training and administration."
Fitzroy then moved to Victoria Park for the 1985-88 seasons and then to Princes Park from 1987-1993. The Club spent their final three years in the AFL, out at the Western Oval, before finally returning to their origianl home of the Brunswick Street Oval in 2009 as part of the VAFA.
The Junction Oval is now used by Old Melburnians Football Club as their home ground. In commemoration of Fitzroy's time at the ground the Old Melburnians and Fitzroy will hold a joint lunch in the Moreton Pavilion at the corner of Queens Street and Fitzroy Street in St Kilda beginning at 11.30 on 24th August. Fitzroy Football Club legends Kevin Murray and Laurie Serafini, who both played at the ground for Fitzroy in the VFL-AFL will be the guest speakers. Tickets cost $75.
Download the flyer from here for full details
For all of this week, in celebration of the Club's return to our old home ground in close to 30 years, the Fitzroy Football Club website will revisit other favourite Fitzroy moments from our 15 year tenure at the Junction Oval.
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Fitzroy avoid relegation.
11.30 am Sunday 11th August 2013
Fitzroy has avoided relegation to Premier C for Season 2014 with Saturday's victory over last season's Premier C Grand Final opponent Parkdale. Instead it will be Parkdale who, together with the Werribee Tigers, that will most likely be making the journey back to Premier C for Season 2014.
Saturday's match was do or die for both teams. A Parkdale win would have seen them advance to within a game of Fitzroy with two rounds to go. And with a superior percentage and a match against bottom team Werribee in the final round, Parkdale would have been in the box seat to leap-frog Fitzroy and possibly push them into the relegation zone. Instead with two rounds to go, Fitzroy's 28 point win has given them a three game break over Parkdale. Parkdale still has a chance to avoid relegation to Premier C, but must heavily defeat Werribee in the last home and away round and hope that eighth placed Caulfield have big losses against Old Haileybury and Ajax.
At the other end of the ladder, the Final Four has almost been decided with Old Trinity, Old Melbournians, Old Brighton and St Kevins occupying the top four places. Fitzroy's opponent this coming week, Ajax still has a slim chance of making the Final Four but only if St Kevins lose both their final two home and away games and Ajax win both of theirs.
Old Carey will be returning to Premier B in 2014, with one of University Blues or Beaumaris joining them. From Premier C, Mazenod are heavy favorites to replace Werribee in Premier B next season with Old Ivanhoe, Monash Blues and Marcellin also staking claims for the other position.
Fitzroy started off the game brightly against the Vultures kicking three goals to Parkdale's five points. The Vultures fought back in the second quarter, adding two goals while restricing the Roys to one goal and the margin to just eight points at the main break. Whatever was said in the sheds at half time worked. The Roys added six goals to three in the third in what proved to be the match-winning quarter. The last was a closely fought affair with each side adding one goal only, but the Roys courtesy of their third quarter effort had done enough to take the points.
Final scores were Fitzroy 11.6.72 defeated Parkdale 6.10.46 by 28 points.
Goal Kickers for Fitzroy were: D. Bisetto 3, D. Patcas 2, W. Pickering 2, M. Kyroussis 2, G. Hesse, J. Dalton
Best Players for Fitzroy were: J. Dalton, D. Bisetto, L. Baker, S. Baker, R. Angiolella, A. Green
The Fitzroy Reserves returned to the winners list scoring a comfortable 55 point win over the Parkdale reserves.
The final score was Fitzroy 17.18.110 defeated Parkdale 5.5.35.
Goal Kickers for Fitzroy: J. McGee 6, T. Hudson-Bevege 3, J. Beech 2, N. Brown, C. Polidoras, A. Franklin, J. Cowan-Clark, D. Kynigopoulos, A. Ley
Best Players for Fitzroy: M. Racovalis, J. Turner, J. McGee, B. Farley, T. Hudson-Bevege, J. Meakin
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Banking on a legend
10.30 am Friday 2nd August 2013
Father-sons are an enduring football fascination, a tingling prospect that the next generation could rise above the pressure of comparison and revisit or even outstrip the feats of the old man. To find your team in possession of a progeny of Ablett or Watson proportions is every footy fan's dream.
In 1981, Fitzroy boasted an offspring even more unique.
While questions about their dads have dogged Gary Ablett jnr and Jobe Watson since before they laced a boot, neither will ever know what it was like to be Chris Brent. For a solitary season in 1981, the 18-year-old in the No.10 jumper in Fitzroy's under-19s had a unique reply to the stock query: ''What did your dad do?''
To say your old man kicked more than 1000 goals and was possibly the greatest player of all time was one thing. That he played in the big league when he was just 15, won three flags and finished up playing more than 300 games was hard to top, too.
But only Chris Brent could say his father robbed the Glasgow to London mail train of £2.6 million in cash, lived in hiding in Australia and wound up in Rio de Janeiro as one of the most famous criminals on the planet.
Gary Pert was a 15-year-old who within a year would be playing seniors, but in 1981 was in Fitzroy's under-19s squad. Two things have stayed with him about Chris Brent: he was very talented, and even more resilient.
''I watched games when the crowd was quite offensive, the stuff they'd yell out to him, especially at critical times when he was kicking for goal,'' Collingwood's chief executive recalls. ''I remember thinking to myself how difficult that would be every week, going out and getting that sort of abuse, how inappropriate and difficult and offensive it was.''
Brent's hopes of ignoring the stick about his father's part in a heist that took place 50 years ago - August8, 1963 - wasn't helped by proximity - as the team's full-forward, he was right in the firing line.
Yet he was good enough to kick 91 goals for the season, a Lions' under-19s record that placed him second in the competition goalkicking behind another sharp-shooter with a famous name, Melbourne's David Cordner, who kicked 111.
''He was a big, burly full-forward, a real traditional type of player,'' Paul Roos, another soon-to-be famous teammate, remembers of an 185-centimetre, 80-kilogram teenager who had a strong presence on the field. ''He was a very good player from my memory, good, clean hands, a nice kick for goal.''
Tale no Biggs deal
After coming home one August day in 1963, when Brent was about four months old, with a bag of cash holding his share of roughly £120,000, Biggs was eventually caught, escaped from Wandsworth Prison, had a spot of plastic surgery in Paris, a stint in Adelaide (where he was joined by wife Charmian and their children), and had settled into the anonymity of Melbourne's eastern suburbs of the late 1960s when Interpol began to close in. He boarded a passenger liner at Port Melbourne in late 1969, and wound up in Brazil.
A decade later his son was on Fitzroy's radar as a junior, kicking bags of goals in the Doncaster area. Roos recalls playing against him for Beverly Hills in the under-12s. Coincidentally, after Monday night's On The Couch, he regaled Mike Sheahan, Gerard Healy and Alastair Lynch with the story of seeing Dean Dugdale take the ball in the back pocket for Doncaster Heights, run bouncing all the way to the forward line and kick to Brent, who marked and goaled.
While the Swans would soon discover how hard it was to make an impression with the Sydney media, in August 1980 the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story in its sports pages headed ''Lions want Chris Brent''.
Once he arrived at the Junction Oval, Pert says his famous back-story wasn't talked about because it didn't matter. ''It had nothing to do with him. It wasn't important to his teammates - what was important was whether he was a good guy and a good footballer. And I remember he was both.''
Roos remembers being aware of who he was, but says it wasn't something teenagers would have been overly intrigued by. ''You weren't going to go to an encyclopaedia and look up the Great Train Robbery.''
A typical conversation about it, says Roos, would have gone something like, ''That's Ronnie Biggs' son.''
''Who's Ronnie Biggs?''
''The Great Train Robbery.''
''What's the Great Train Robbery?''
Sneaking off early
As a good crime drama should, elements of the story have emerged over time. Doug Searl coached the Lions that season (and to three grand finals either side of it). At a 1982 premiership reunion last year, he was bailed up by an old teammate of Brent's.
''Why did you give him special treatment, let him get off the track early and not have to run laps?'' Searl was asked.
Told that Brent would peel off from the pack and sneak up the race after the first of several mandatory laps at the end of training, the coach was dumbfounded.
''I said, 'Mate, I didn't know he was doing it!' That's how stupid I was. He got away with it, so good on him.''
He remembers Brent kicking 10 one day against Carlton at Princes Park.
''Every now and then you'd get an under-19s player - Stephen James was the same at Richmond, beautiful pair of hands - some days he'd just get it that much, you'd think, 'Jeez, he's had it a lot'. You'd look up and he's kicked 10.''
Biggs is soon to turn 84 and seeing out his days in an English nursing home, no longer able to speak after suffering multiple strokes. The Great Train Robbery inspired movies, books, songs and theatre; despite his relatively minor role in its execution, it brought him lifelong fame.
While Charmian continues to live in Melbourne, and featured in a follow-up Australian Story on the ABC last Monday night, none of Brent's old teammates, or officials from Fitzroy or his Doncaster Heights junior days contacted by Fairfax Media, know what happened in Brent's football career after 1981.
''I'd expect he would have gone and played some footy, because he was quite talented,'' says Roos.
He adds a line that for many years crossed the minds and lips of police around the world. ''Who knows where he ended up.''
Peter Hanlon - The Age - 21st July 2013
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A ghost of seasons past
10.30 am Sunday 21st July 2013
It was a long time ago. The Australian government of Prime Minister Robert Menzies blocked equal pay for women, and reintroduced national service. Dawn Fraser was named Australian of the Year. Eddie McGuire was born, opened his mouth and made a noise for the very first time. Melbourne fans celebrated winning not just a game, but a premiership. Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to become the world heavyweight boxing champion, and soon became Muhammad Ali. The first Mustang growled off the Ford production line. Goldfinger hit the movie screens, the third of what is now 23 Bond films, and counting. The Rolling Stones released their eponymous first album. The Beatles - kicking with the wind and off to a flyer - filled numbers 1-5 on America's Billboard singles chart, a first for any band or artist. Can't Buy Me Love was No.1.
Meanwhile, at Brunswick Street Oval, Kevin Murray wondered if anything could buy him a win for his beloved Fitzroy. Just one.
What happened in the muddy, miserable winter of 1964 - or more precisely, what didn't - has never come to pass in a season of AFL football since. Even in an age where the strugglers were left to fend for themselves without the help of draft picks and bailout packages, only 12 of the competition's 68 previous winters had finished with a team rooted to the bottom without a single win (Hawthorn in 1928 and '50, North Melbourne in 1926, '31 and '34, Melbourne in 1919, the studious but struggling University teams of 1913 and '14, and St Kilda's battlers of 1897-99, and 1902). Which, with seven games to go, puts Greater Western Sydney - played 15, lost 15 - on the brink of history.
The year from hell
Giants coach Kevin Sheedy's 779-game career (251 played, 528 coached) was still three years from beginning; Murray's was in its 10th year. He would finish as one of the great Fitzroy warriors, a footballer good enough to win a Brownlow Medal and a place in the AFL Team of the Century, tough and durable enough to play 333 games (more than 400 counting state honours and two seasons in the WAFL) while battling a chronic back injury.
Now 75, he remembers 1964 being ''extremely hard'' at best, ''shattering'' at worst. Murray says Fitzroy had just lost a raft of stars and stalwarts with around 1000 games between them, picked up some discards from other clubs, and turned out a team each week of committed triers who did all they could to scrape a win. They lost two games by a point, and six of the 18 by less than 20, but couldn't break through. ''It was very sad for the team, everyone tried hard and a couple of times we went close,'' says Murray, who started as captain-coach the previous season, and missed the Lions' only win that year because he was captaining Victoria in Perth (the Lions beat eventual premier Geelong, whose coach Bob Davis was at the helm of the Big V and powerless to influence the result).
He recalls being 10 points ahead of Carlton at Princes Park before being overrun. ''It played on your mind a lot, you'd go back into your shell.'' At the old Western Oval they led Footscray by 31 points at three-quarter time, but nagging at him was Ted Whitten's ploy at the coin toss, which back then wasn't overseen by an umpire. ''I went over with EJ, he flipped it up in the air, I said, 'Heads', and before it hit the ground he said, 'We're kickin' that way,' and walked off.'' The Bulldogs stormed home with the wind to win by eight points. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
Hosting premiership fancy Collingwood one Saturday, Murray told his ruckman Russell Crow that their only hope was if he went out and ''stiffened'' a couple of Magpies. ''They still beat us - Crowy went out and hit the wrong couple of blokes!''
A timely escape
''There was naturally a lot of pressure - as the weeks progress everyone wants your head if you're not winning games,'' Murray recalls, grateful that he had staunch support from chairman of selectors Tony Ongarello. For a 24-year-old captain-coach who only took on the job when Len Smith fell ill because nobody else wanted it, the weekly disappointment might have been his undoing. Instead, it opened a new path, and ensured his legend crossed the country.
Ernie Joseph, a long-time club official, told Murray midway through 1964 he had a reform group that would overthrow the committee and install Bill Stephen as coach, and he could stay on as a player. Murray and Joseph didn't get on, and he signed to play the 1965 season as captain-coach of East Perth. ''I didn't want to leave Fitzroy, but it was a blessing in disguise,'' he said. ''I hated leaving - I'd been with them 10 years, my father had played in the '44 premiership, my two brothers Ron and Dan had played in the thirds and seconds, we'd been part of Fitzroy for years. But when I went to East Perth, even though I'd had success individually before I left Melbourne, I decided my whole life as a footballer was starting again.''
Murray had been told that if you stood at the bar of a WA pub with one suitcase, the bloke next to you would invite you home for tea. ''But if you go there with two suitcases they reckon you're a smartie from the east come to rob them.'' He knew he had to put in. ''And I put in real hard.'' In 1966 he captain-coached the WA state team. ''I'd had some success with East Perth, and those two hard years I had at Fitzroy held me in good stead.''
No sooner had he left Fitzroy, than the Lions finally won a game, avenging that Western Oval heartache against Footscray in round two of 1965. Stephen, who'd played Murray as a 16-year-old in 1955, was coach, and from the other side of the country he was rapt for him. ''I was pleased for him and the players, they wouldn't have wanted to go through the year like we had.'' His own next win in a Fitzroy jumper didn't come until round eight, 1967 - getting on for five years after the previous one, in the second-last game of 1962.
'Attack the ball'
Murray acknowledges the tough job Sheedy has bringing on a start-up team in Sydney's west, but he thinks they're getting closer to the light. ''Hopefully they can win a game, because I'd hate to see them go through a season like myself and my teammates went through in '64, because it was shattering. ''My advice to them is just make sure you're positive about what you're doing, just believe in yourself and keep plodding on, listen to the coaches, attack the ball and it'll turn around for you, believe me.''
His beloved Lions have changed form, but remain as close to his heart as the Brownlow Medal that's draped permanently around his neck. He has seen too many bottom teams cause late-season upsets to consign the Giants of 2013 to the fate of Fitzroy of '64. ''I think GWS can do that before the end of the season - as long as it's not against the Brisbane Lions."
Greg Hanlon - The Age
Picture: Ian Currie Herald Sun
Postscript: Fitzroy in 2013 is also a long way from their poor 1964 season, yesterday notching their fourth win for the season against sixth placed Old Haileybury. This week they play bottom of the ladder Werribee and a win here will likely put some breathing space between them and ninth placed Parkdale, only a game (and with better percentage) behind them.
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Vale Norm Johnstone (1927-2013)
6.00 pm Saturday 7th June 2013
The Fitzroy Football Club mourns the passing of Club great Norm Johnstone, who sadly passed away early on Friday morning (7th June) aged 86.
Johnstone was a rugged and reliable ruckman who was also a noted goal-kicker on occasions when he would venture forward.
He played a total of 228 games and kicked 185 goals in 14 seasons with Fitzroy from 1944-57, predominantly in the Number 17 guernsey. Johnstone played in four finals and was awarded 39 Brownlow Medal votes.
Despite being built like a tank, he could move quickly over the ground and never shirked the issue. His forceful style of play was known to spread many packs during his day.
Johnstone played his early football for Cheslea under 17's receiving several offers from other VFL clubs, most notably Carlton, before Fitzroy secretary Percy Mitchell persuaded both Johnstone and his mother to don the maroon and blue guernsey of Fitzroy.
Johnstone made his senior debut for Fitzroy in their 123 point win over Geelong in Round 11 of Fitzroy's premiership year, 1944. He was described on his selection in the Argus as "the young Chelsea giant."
Johnstone's large build, standing 183 centimetes tall and weighing 92 kilograms and run straight at the ball approach gave him a reputation for toughness and a nickname of "The Tank." He was reported for striking three times in his career in 1946, 1947 and 1954, but was cleared each time.
"I went in to get the ball and if anyone was in my way it was their bad luck. I was pretty fast and not so much a big man, but a solid man. I didn't worry about anyone; I just went for the ball. If you got in my way, over you went." he said in an interview in 2001.
Even Richmond Legend 'Captain Blood' Jack Dyer recognised Johnstone as one of the toughest players of his era, saying that he enjoyed hurting the opposition.
He was notorious for arriving late for the coach’s address, but was a great team man and was Vice-Captain of Fitzroy in 1950, 1951 as well as 1954 to 1957.
Norm Johnstone was also renowned for being one of the few players that kept famed Essendon goalkicker John Coleman goalless when moved onto him after he had kicked a bagful on Tommy Meehan! That contest made headlines in that Saturday night's Sporting Globe.
He won Fitzroy’s Best and Fairest in 1947, having missed only one of Fitzroy's 22 games and represented Victoria in two games in 1948. He won the Club’s goal-kicking in 1955 with 32 goals, his three goals against Carlton in Round 14 bringing up his 150th career goal. "I used to change from the ruck into the forward pocket. The ball would come down and I was a pretty good kick and I would always kick two or three a week."
He played his 200th game in the 19 point win over South Melbourne at Brunswick Street in Round 3 of 1956. An indication of Johnstone's longevity is that he played with Dan Murray early in his career and played with his son Kevin Murray late in his career.
He kicked two goals in his last senior game for Fitzroy in Round 18 of 1957 in the 24 point win over Geelong at Brunswick Street. Upon retirement he coached Seaford for two years. His three sons all played football, with son Jim enjoying success with Mordialloc in the VFA. His grandson Travis Johnstone was the number one draft pick for Melbourne at the end of 1997 and later transferred to the Brisbane Lions.
Johnstone was named in the forward pocket in Fitzroy's Greatest Team from 1944 to 1993. In 2001, he was further honoured by being named in Fitzroy’s Team of the Century.
Fitzroy Football Club to this day play for the Norm Johnstone Trophy against the Parkdale Vultures in the VAFA. Last weekend, Fitzroy reclaimed the Trophy when the Seniors defeated the Parkdale Vultures by 3 points at Norm's old stomping ground, the Brunswick Street Oval. The Trophy now takes on special significance for Norm's beloved Fitzroy.
The Fitzroy Football Club extends its deepest condolences to the entire Johnstone family.
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A Word from the Coach.
4.45 pm Friday 6th June 2013
It has been an exciting but challenging start to life in Premier B for Fitzroy Football Club! While the Senior and Clubbies teams have had it tough early in the season, the Reserves, Thirds and Under 19’s teams have acquitted themselves very well and are currently all sitting in the top four.
The Senior team has a disappointing 1-6 win-loss record to date, but have certainly played some very good football at different times and were finally rewarded on Saturday with a hard fought victory down at Werribee. The early part of the season has demonstrated the high levels of intensity and skill required to be consistently competitive in Premier B and while injuries have not helped us, with a number of our senior team missing some or all games, the playing/coaching group are working very hard to bring to games the required intensity and game style that will bring us further success on top of Saturday’s win.
One highlight of the season has been the opportunity to provide a number of Under 19 players with the chance to experience senior football in Premier B. Luke Baker, Dylan Leech and Jacob McCormack have all shown they have much to offer at this level with more of our youngest players to be played in our Seniors as the season progresses.
This week’s game versus Parkdale sees a renewal of the strong rivalry that emerged between the clubs last season. Parkdale has also struggled with the transition to Premier B so the game takes on extra significance in light of our close positions on the ladder and also provides an opportunity for us to reverse the result of last year’s grand final.
The next month sees us play Parkdale, Old Melburnians and Caulfield Grammarians at home and Old Brighton down at Brighton Beach – all very winnable games and an opportunity to strengthen our ladder position before a difficult home stretch of mostly away games in our fight to finish as high as possible in Premier B in 2013.
On behalf of the players and coaches, I want to thank all our loyal members, friends and family whose continued support of the club is always warmly appreciated.
Michael Pickering – Senior Coach.
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Seniors win second game of season by seven points.
4.45 pm Saturday 1st June 2013
The Fitzroy seniors have acheived their second win of the season following on from last week's solid win over Werribee.
Parkdale who were their conquerors in last year's Premier C Grand Final made a good start in the first quarter of their clash this afternoon leading by 22 points at the first break. However in the second quarter Fitzroy fought back kicking 5 goals to Parkdale's three to close the gap to 13 points. The third quarter was a dour affair with Fitzroy managing to add two goals to Parkdale's one to further close the gap to three points. In the final quarter Fitzroy peppered the goals without a large reward but kicking two major to Parkdale's one was enough to hold on for a great seven point win.
Final scores were Fitzroy 10.12.72 defeated Parkdale 10.5.65 by 3 points.
The win means that Fitzroy stay in touch with the seventh and eighth placed sides with a good chance of climbing out of the relegation zone by season's end. The bottom two sides in Premier B will be relegated to Premier C for the 2014 season.
The Fitzroy Reserves have continued on their winning way scoring a comfortable 51 point win over last season's Grand Final opponents Parkdale Vulture reserves on a soggy Brunswick Street Oval.
The final score in the reserves was Fitzroy 10.13.74 defeated Parkdale 3.4.22.
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Fitzroy's 1989 Reserves premiership team re-unite
11.00 am Tuesday 14th May 2013
The Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Historical Society in Melbourne recently wound the clock back 24 years ago to reunite the players, coaches and officials who were part of Fitzroy’s 1989 reserves premiership.
It remains the last premiership of any type that our club won prior to the club's exit from the AFL, and is remembered fondly by the old ‘Roys faithful.
The match was played at the MCG as the curtain-raiser to the VFL senior Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong, which many still consider to be the best ever. But for Lions fans, it was their own team’s stunning come-from-behind win in the earlier match – coincidentally against the Cats’ reserves – that will forever be associated with that particular day. Fitzroy made their way through to the reserves Grand Final against all odds by defeating the more high-fancied Essendon and Carlton reserves sides.
Their dream run looked to have come to an end midway through the third quarter, with Geelong holding a comfortable seven-goal lead, before a brutal melee erupted. The incident ultimately helped kick-start the Lions who went on to record a remarkable two-point victory. The match would also serve as the last hurrah for some of the Club’s all-time greats – including Michael Conlan, Leon Harris and Ross Thornton – who decided to hang up the boots at the end of the 1989 season. Around 150 Historical Society members and guests joined Conlan, Thornton, Harris, Mark Scott, Chris Waterson, Graham Osborne and many others at Etihad Stadium last Thursday night to take a trip down memory lane. Please find below some of the stories from Fitzroy’s reserves premiership – as they were remembered 24 years later:
ROBERT SHAW (COACH) On what triggered the turnaround after half-time “Two words – Robert Bolzon. Geelong had two very good players. Darren Morgan, who had kicked five goals in the first half, and he failed to see out the game. And they also had a very good first rover called Gary Cameron, and he failed to salute the judges at the end of game too. One was courtesy of Robbie Bolzon, and the other courtesy of Darren Wheildon. So Geelong were forced to play two short, and we caught them. But seriously, I remember Graham Osborne did some inspirational stuff in the centre of the ground, including a long, long goal just before three quarter time which brought us back to within 30 points. Back in those days 30 points was insurmountable, whereas nowadays you can cruise past it. I guess the old blokes took over then, guys like Leon (Harris), Michael (Conlan) and Ross (Thornton). They really took over.” On the crowd at the MCG “The game was played on a very special day, because it was when Gary Ablett kicked nine goals against Hawthorn, which still goes down as one of the great Grand Finals. And from about halfway through the third quarter and the last quarter, we got to play in front of around 100,000 people.”
CHRIS WATERSON On playing at the MCG “I think we played four finals in a row at Waverley, from memory. It was a lot of hard work to get there. Of course, when you’re 19 you’re used to going to the MCG to watch a Grand Final – you don’t ever expect to go there and play in one. It was a great experience. I remember thinking halfway through the first quarter that we probably weren’t going to win, but that it was still a great experience. And then, all of sudden, it just happened...”
MICHAEL CONLAN On whether he was involved in the third quarter melee “Certainly not. At that stage of my career, being 31 years of age, I was well beyond that. When it did start to happen, I admit that I started to feel sorry for the guys getting hit. Our players did become quite aggressive, and it certainly changed the game. I cringed a little bit at some of the punches that were thrown, and it sent a shock through Geelong. It certainly sparked a bit of enthusiasm for the rest of our players, and then fortunately we went on and played football.”
MARK SCOTT On how Fitzroy qualified for the Grand Final “I think we played Bulldogs in Round 22, and really had to win it to get in (the Finals). For the first final, we had about six senior guys come into the side, and I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but there was a bit of a feeling that it could have been our last game. Then we beat Essendon in a pretty rough sort of game that we weren’t supposed to win. They had some really good players, so it was a really tough game. I remember going to training the next week and there was a different attitude. It was almost like ‘we weren’t finished just yet’. It was brilliant.”
Don’t miss the Historical Society’s annual dinner on Wednesday 31 July at the Veneto Club in Bulleen, when they honour Fitzroy great Bill Stephen.
You can become a member of the Historical Society for just $20, which goes towards helping preserve the wonderful Museum located at Etihad Stadium.
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Reserves go down by three points as seniors struggle.
10.00 pm Tuesday April 23rd 2013
An inaccurate Fitzroy reserves team have suffered a heart-breaking three point loss in their reserves game against Old Trinity in Round 2 of Premier B.
Meanwhile in the seniors, Fitzroy failed to score against Old Trinity in the first quarter and at half time remain goalless. The third quarter saw a a much more competitive effort as both Fitzroy and Old Trinity kicked three goals. The highlight for Roys supporters at the ground was a fantastic mark by Luke Ablett. At three quarter time Old Trinity have scored 11.13.79 to Fitzroy's 3.6.24 to lead by 55 points. The final score was 5-9-39 to Old Trinity 14-19-103. Best for the day were Mat Kyroussis, Luke Ablett, Daniel Bisetto, Jack Dalton, Tom Cheshire and Luke Baker who was playing his first Senior game – Luke is a member of the Under 19s.
The Reserves took Old Trinity at Brunswick Street Oval after the unfurling of the 2012 premiership flag. The first half of the game was a close one with the scores at the main break Fitzroy 5-10-40 to Old Trinity 7-6-48. In the third quarter Old Trinity were kept scoreless whilst Fitzroy put on 20 points (3-2). The last quarter was a changing one and with inaccuracy again a problem for Fitzroy in front of goal with the final scores Fitzroy 8-17-65 to Old Trinity 10-8-68. Goal Kickers were Chris Doherty and Chris Polidoras with 2 each and 1 each to Antony Harbor, Dan Morgan, James McGee and Max Oliver. The best were Chris Doherty, Cheyne Evans, Mike Lee, Cameron Ball, Chris Polidoras and Antony Harbor. This Saturday the Reserves will take on Old Brighton at Brunswick Street Oval at 11.40am.
The Thirds unfurled their premiership flag at Ramsden Street Reservel before their game against Old Trinity. The first quarter was even and Fitzroy took the lead in the second quarter with the score at half time Fitzroy 5-3-33 to Old Trinity 2-2-14. The boys came out after the main break and didn’t look back, putting on another 7 goals, finishing the game Fitzroy 12-9-81 to Old Trinity 5-7-37. Goal kickers were Philip Carydis, Luke Novello, J. Murray and Bryce McAdam all kicking 2 each, and 1 each to Adam Franklin, Sam Buckle, Stephen Pang and Harry Kemp. This week the Thirds take on Old Brighton, Bright Beach Oval at 11.40am.
The U19s travelled down the Nepean Highway to take on Parkdale Vultures. Fitzroy had a great start kicking 4 goals to none in the first quarter with Parkdale fighting back in the second quarter to bring the half time score Fitzroy 6-3-39 to Parkdale 5-5-35. Unfortunately Parkdale kept on the roll adding 7 goals in the last half to our 3, bringing the final score to Fitzroy 9-9-63 to Parkdale 13-11-89. The goal kickers were Dylan Leech leading the way with 4, Angelo Garcia 2 and 1 each to Jacob Fraser, Jules Meltzer and Otto Ishak. Best players were Edward Bryan, Dylan Leech, Jacob McCormack, Joe Hill, Josh Sawyer and Nick Gibbons. This week they take on Old Carey, Carey Sporting Complex at 2pm.
The Club XVIII took on De La Salle in the 2pm game at Ramsden Street Reserve. De La Salle started out strong in the first quarter and didn’t look back. The final score was Fitzroy 1-5-11 to De La Salle 22-17-149. The only goal kicker was Sean Zurek and the best players were Sean Zurek, Stephen Smit, Chris Fergin, Rod Harmeston, Elias Barnes and Nathan White. This coming Saturday they take on Oakleigh back home at Ramsden Street Reserve, 2pm.
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Fitzroy seniors lose but Reserves notch up win
4.50 pm Saturday April 13th 2013
Fitzroy's reserves have got the club off on a winning note as they have defeated the Ajax Reserves by 22 points, in overcast conditions. However Fitzroy's seniors have suffered a significant defeat losing by 93 points to Ajax. Final scores were Fitzroy 4.11.35 to Ajax 18.20.128.
With co-captain Rory Angiolella and last season's Best and Fairest winner Josh Vanisstart missing from the senior line up, the task of winning was always going to be more difficult. After a solid start in the first quarter where the Roys were competitive and only trailing by 14 points, the second quarter was a different story. Ajax piled on 6 goals to a solitary point in the second quarter to lead by over 50 points. Matt Kyroussis was Fitzroy's only goak-kicker in the first half.
Fitzroy were much more competitive in the third quarter kicking three goals to Ajax's four and with more accurate kicking could have kicked another couple of goals. Against the wind in the last quarter, Ajax peppered the goals kicking 4.9 in the last quarter while Fitzroy could only manage three points, going down by a margin of 93 points.
The announced senior team boasts seven new faces from last season's Grand Final team with Max Allen, Alister Green, Michael Racovalis, Daniel Bisetto, Greg Hesse, Alex Ricco and Cailean Moore coming into the side. Sam Baker is captaining today's team by himself as co-captain Rory Angiolella is out for this week.
A new year, a new season and a new grade it seems like just the other day that we were at Sandringham watching two out of three of our senior teams take home premierships.
After a hard summer of pre-season training and a good series of practice games the boys are revved up and ready to go for season 2013.
With the club's promotion to the Premier B level, the highest level Fitzroy, Fitzroy Reds & University Reds have ever been in, means new challenges; new teams and a few old rivalries with other clubs from years gone by will be renewed. The season will be challenging but the players and coaches are up for the challenge ahead.
Don't forget also that the Under 19s vs. Uni Blacks - BSO - 2pm and the Clubbies vs. Old Geelong - Como Park, South Yarra, 2pm
On Sunday 14 April the Thirds vs. AJAX - Gary Smorgon Oval, Albert Park at 2pm
Ins & Outs for 2013
Scott Cations has hung up his boots and we've seen some players from across all teams move onto other clubs. James O'Reilly had indicated that he was hanging up the boots, but he's looking at running around a few more times this year.
Daniel Bisetto who has recently been playing with West Preston Lakeside Football Club in the Northern Football League. Daniel is also a former Calder Cannon, played for Fitzroy’s U19s in 2009 and has also played with the Coburg Tigers in the VFL.
Alex Ricco, former Northern Knights player joins us from Northcote Park in the Northern Football League.
Alister Green is joining us from Toora & District Football Club in the Alberton Football Netball League.
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Sneak peak at a hip boutique - The Brunswick St. Oval
10.00 pm Friday March 29th 2013
If we're not mistaken, AFL impresario Andrew Demetriou this week admitted that those daggy old suburban stadiums that modern football outgrew might not be such a bad option when it comes to games in Melbourne that are now attended by two men, a dog and a John Denver impersonator humming Tumbling Tumbleweeds. The ground formerly known as Princes Park was floated as an option, along with Punt Road Oval, which last hosted VFL/AFL football in 1964.
Surely, an obvious choice has been missed, although not by some in that inner-suburban hipster belt north of the Yarra, aka Fitzroy.
''Certainly, the door would be open,'' Peter Hille said of a return of top-flight football to Brunswick Street Oval, where he watched a famous old team called Fitzroy play from 1954 until its last game at the ground 12 years later. Hille was the driving force behind University Reds moving to Brunswick Street in 1991, and oversaw their morph into Fitzroy Reds before the 2008 merger with the old Fitzroy Football Club created a new team called, well, Fitzroy.
He has a glorious vision of Brunswick Street as the ultimate boutique stadium. Advertisement What's more, he's full of the sort of ingenuity that sloshes around in the AFL's marketing department, and can see the amateurs getting right behind the concept of VAFA-AFL double-headers. ''Yes, we could certainly have an AFL game as a curtain-raiser to a Fitzroy game.''
ALL THIS, AND LAWN BOWLS TOO!
Templates abound for transforming parks into stadiums in the name of sporting fun and games. At Greenwich last July, 23,000 temporary seats were built around an enormous trucked-in sandpit so posh people could watch other posh people prance around on - and fall off - horses in the equestrian at the London Olympics. The planets have aligned for a similar venture right in the heart of Fitzroy.
Instead of pulling down all of those temporary grandstands at Albert Park and shoving them in storage for the winter, why not truck them across town? Granted, a mountain of scaffolding just outside their front doors isn't exactly the peaceful vista the residents of Freeman Street are accustomed to, but Hille is certain the locals and their footy club buck the trend of blind self-interest when it comes to football.
''You'd easily get 200 in the old grandstand,'' he says of Brunswick Street's infrastructure. ''There's a few plane trees, but we'd work around that without demolishing any of them. You could rig something up over the bowls club, which would give you both a view of the ground, or if you're not that interested there's a fabulous view of the city.''
His imagination suitably limbered up, he can see a Headingley-like, double-sided grandstand offering views to the rear of the Fitzroy Bowls Club. A string of temporaries would line Freeman Street from the cricket nets to the heritage-listed members' entrance and ticket box, with more seating springing up next to the tennis courts. A weekly rush would be on to get one of the prized standing room spots behind the Brunswick Street end goals, although some protective netting would be required, ''because you don't want the ball landing in the No.112 tram and ending up in Preston''.
FITZROY WITH THE LOT
Selling the merits of Brunswick Street Oval is not something Hille has to be bulldozed into. ''We've got magnificent access to coffee and food - the culinary choices would be unmatched,'' he said, picturing trendy food trucks dotting the paths of Edinburgh Gardens. A Geelong-like deal on pourage and catering would, inevitably, be a modern reality of the ''business'' of football, ''because it costs a hell of a lot to run a club in the amateurs''. The neighbourhood's colourful arts community, a regular feature at Fitzroy games, would be an added attraction. ''I'm thinking buskers, torch dancers, the laughter of families through the trees of the gardens, barefoot bowls at half-time …''
Fitzroy president Joan Eddy is a diehard North Melbourne fan, so the Kangaroos would be most welcome visitors. And, with a Swans premiership player in Luke Ablett running around in Fitzroy colours, an appearance from the reigning premier would be a must. ''Luke would be thrilled with that reconnection, I'm sure.''
Really getting into the swing of the idea, Hille says Fitzroy would be happy to honour the best player on the ground just as the best Roy Boy of the week is rewarded - with a voucher from Little Tony's Pizza.
The image of Jonathan Brown strolling into Little Tony's, footy bag over his shoulder, to collect his large capricciosa almost moves Hille to tears.
THE PRIMARY REASON
Incredibly, the timing of a return to Brunswick Street could not be better. In its 70 years as a VFL venue, the ground played host to 616 games. Entering its 14th season, Etihad Stadium has hosted 615 games. Saturday's Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions clash simply has to be moved. In Ablett, Fitzroy has a man ''on the inside'', with the former Swan now working in the AFL's integrity department.
If Demetriou looms as a stumbling block, Hille has that covered too. ''I was his first coach,'' he says, recalling his tenure at the helm of the Coburg North Primary School footy team. ''I see him from time to time, and he's a very loyal sort of fellow.'' For the sake of old - and new - Fitzroy, it's time for Hille to remind the boss that, if he hadn't given him a game with the big boys when he was only in grade four, he'd be nowhere.
Peter Hanlon - The Age - 27th March 2013
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Fitzroy kicks a visitor's goal for Melbourne
The 129-year old Fitzroy Football Club has stepped into Melbourne’s tourism infrastructure by inviting visitors to join the club on match days to experience the culture of an inner suburban Aussie Rules football club.
After shopping or just grazing along Brunswick Street in Fitzroy (Melbourne’s first suburb), the club is encouraging tourists to walk a few minutes - or catch a passing tram - to nearby Brunswick Street Oval, the club’s home ground.
The club is offering exposure to “real grass-roots suburban footy”, a Melbourne cultural experience, on the city’s doorstep, and an alternative to the AFL’s games at the MCG and Etihad Stadium.
Fitzroy is briefing hotel concierges and backpacker hostels about the free exposure (there is no admittance fee) to another side of Melbourne’s eclectic visitor experience.
“We may pick up some new interstate and international memberships and we may generate some funds, but really it’s about the club being an advocate to how Melburnians love their footy at a local level,” said a representative from the club.
The ground’s setting is part of the experience …a grand heritage grandstand on one side, grassy banks with gold and orange plane trees wrapped around a large oval which is overlooked by two-storey Victorian terrace houses on two sides and the city skyline in the background, a reminder of the ground’s close proximity to the metropolis of Melbourne.
“Visitors can mingle with several hundred supporters who will gladly explain the rules of the game and talk of the proud and colourful history of the club,”
In Season 2013 Fitzroy Football Club will be playing in the Premier B Division of the Victorian Amateur Football Association.
The merger agreement with the Brisbane Lions
The Fitzroy Football Club (incorporating the Fitzroy Reds) endeavours to represent the interests of Fitzroy members who support the Brisbane Lions in the AFL Merger. The merger of the Fitzroy Football Club and the Fitzroy Reds in December 2009, in no way affects the AFL merger.