Oh, what a beautiful sight – many seasons in the making. Photograph: Phyllis Quealy.
In a great start to Season 2021, Fitzroy teams battled it out for the first time beneath our new electronic scoreboard named in honour of club saviour and legend, Bill Atherton.
By Gabrielle Murphy
When it came to naming the new electronic scoreboard at Brunswick Street Oval, there was no contest. It had to be the Bill Atherton Scoreboard.
Over the years Bill has chalked up numerous wins of his own, on behalf of us all. Without him, there’d actually be no Fitzroy Football Club in the modern era, or a Fitzroy Junior Football Club for that matter.
And Bill wasn’t just the saviour of our famous old club and seminal in the establishment of the Juniors – our crucial feeder club – he also personally built so many of the scoreboards we’ve relied on over the years to know the state of play.
“It’s been a long journey since the wilds of Ramsden Street in 1998 where the Reds had an old wreck of board and I decided to make a new one for them,” says Bill Atherton.
“It featured plastic sliding numbers and was also used by the Fitzroy Juniors for many years.”
In 2000, Bill’s hand-hewed scoreboard made its way to BSO. And when it was ultimately reconditioned to make way for the one in front of the ticket box, found pride of place as artwork on the wall of Celia Dowser, a Fitzroy parent who espied it driving past the ground, and rescued it from a skip.
We don’t know much about art, but we know what we like! Photograph supplied by the Dowser/John family whose wall is graced by one of the scoreboards Bill built.
“It’s been an incredible journey from the dark days of 1996 for the Fitzroy people,” says Bill.
“To think that Fitzroy now has seven senior football teams, underpinned by old FFC, the Reds, ACU and the Fitzroy Juniors.
“No one could have ever planned that all those years ago. It has been a miracle.”
With characteristic humility, Bill says that it’s been his privilege to have been a part of a wonderful group of people who have worked so hard over the last 25 years, signing himself off as:
Your humble servant
The thanks are all for you Bill. Club champion.
Club saviour Bill Atherton and wife Debbie in the Fitzroy clubrooms at Brunswick Street Oval, celebrating the return of the famous old Fitzroy Football Club to its spiritual home.
Round 2 action!
Our Fitzroy-ACU Women's teams have their first hit out at Brunswick Street Oval this weekend while our Senior Men and Reserves head down the highway to Gerry Green Reserve to take on Parkdale.
Fitzroy Senior Men
Gerry Green Reserve
Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women
Brunswick Street Oval
Fitzroy Reserves Men
Gerry Green Reserve
Fitzroy-ACU Reserves Women
Brunswick Street Oval
Fitzroy Under 19's
Ramsden Street Oval
Fitzroy Gold Thirds
Ramsden Street Oval
Captain's Diary Vol 1: Cass Blake
As I rolled open the blinds open on Saturday morning, there was nothing but grey skies and rain on the street.
623 days ago we played our last game… but here we go, Fitzroy footy is finally back!
Dark clouds were building over Ramsden Street Oval as the Reserves girls ran out for the first time in 2021 to the roars of our Fitzroy loyals. As the siren rang at half time, our attention switched and the nerves began to build as we entered the rooms to start our pre-game prep.
Sitting down taping my ankle, I looked around the room. It was starting to set in, we were actually going to play this year, and I could sense the excitement and momentum building in the room. The side had changed since we last met in these rooms. We had a brand new coaching team, 2 club veterans returning from VFLW, 2 girls back from serious injuries that sidelined them in 2019, 7 Fitzroy debutantes and 1 young gun donning the senior Fitzroy colours for the first time.
As the coaches were prepping, I handed players a small note with their name on the front. Inside, I identified a unique character trait as to why they’re such an integral part of our new Fitzroy side. Accompanying this, a description of how this trait helped form the identity of this squad, and could help us get over the line in round one.
Bronte gave one last address and before I knew it, all eyes and ears were on me. We were huddled in tight, jittering in anticipation. Overcome with excitement, the blood was rushing through my body and after some final words, we were out on the ground. Knowing nothing of our new opposition, we were set and ready as Old Geelong came out to line up against us. Smiling and giving fist bumps, we stood side by side our opposition waiting for the ball. As, the siren blew, mouth guards went in and the smiles disappeared. It was on.
Old Geelong started strong, kicking with the wind. The ball was hotly contested and moving quickly into their forward line. The powerhouse backline including gun defenders Lenny (Jess) Hayes, Luci Murphy, LJ (Luci Kerr), Jaqui Fowler (Lauren Atkinson), (Sarah) Lynas kept OG to 1.5 when the quarter-time siren ran. We re-grouped and switched our focus. Aggressive, attacking footy, we needed to use this wind to our advantage.
Alexa (Big Chilli) Madden, Billie Barton and Hilary Collett charged out of the middle and bombed the ball into the forward line, hitting Lizzo (Liz Olney) in the right pocket of the ground. Lizzo booted it through and we were on the board. There was a quick shift in play and Old Geelong couldn’t keep up with Erin (Leather Poisoning) Gogerly and Tess (DJ Tessy) Young who worked hard to get us a lead in the wind with one major each.
Old Geelong fought back with the wind in the third quarter with two more goals, and it was anyone’s game coming into the last quarter (Fitzroy 3.2:20 to Old Geelong 3.8:26). The fourth quarter began, and a big challenge, but an even bigger opportunity was ahead of us. With ten minutes remaining, the ball was up and there were bodies everywhere, I slapped the ball onto my boot in a panicked kick, and it landed right where you’d want it. Our two-time ‘Golden Boot’ winner Lizzo bombed it through from 40 out and we were back in front!
The girls were fighting, everyone pushing back. “RED MODE” was being screamed from the bench. We knew there wasn't long left. OG gave it everything for one final strike, and the ball was locked in their attacking 50. Then, the siren rang. I looked across the contest and spotted Lex, her eyes wide, mouth open - we did it. 713 days since our last win, what a feeling.
Our hard work of 2020 paying off and it showed. Girls, coaches and our trusty supporters soaking up every second of pure elation. What a year this will be, we’re ready and fighting; we’re #morethanfooty
Captain's Diary Vol 1: Julian Turner
'Footy's back', as they say. The last year has been filled with reminders of our ability to adapt to changing situations at work and in our personal lives, and how quickly something at first so foreign can become so normal. The little changes to training and gameday that were tedious are already routine (another big thanks to the board and coaches for helping tirelessly with this transition), but still remind me how lucky I am that my COVID experience can be described as 'tedious'. The same word can be used to describe my season so far, spent mostly in rehab... but spare a thought for Lizzy, Cath, Gemma and Will, who all suffered season-ending injuries in pre-season. Hopefully they adapt to rehab better than me!
Now to Saturday's match report - our first BSO triple header of the year, all versus University Blacks. The day started with a thrilling one-point win in the Under 19s, led by their two vice captains; a diving goal square smother by Clancy Morris-Dalton saved the game in the last minute, and Pasquale Curcio was so hot with his four goals, a faint sizzle was heard from the forward pocket as freezing rain turned to steam in his proximity.
Vice captains remained a theme, with an impressive Reserves squad led out by new vice captain Aaron Tatchell in the absence of new skipper Alex Ritchie. Unfortunately, early inaccuracy cost them scoreboard pressure and they were overrun late. I wasn't able to watch much of this game, as I was doing what I often do while injured: running around trying to feel part of it all and acting like I'm part of the coaching staff, but really not providing a lot of actual support... and eating Kerry burgers, which are back (!) with a little bit of Heaven added to the recipe.
Six debutants for the seniors made for a long jumper presentation ceremony, but Jack, Cam, George, Tom, Luka and Nick all deserved to be commended. Across the board, their commitment to training and to learning our game style have been extremely impressive, despite a long wait for the four of them who joined the senior squad for the 2020 season almost 18 months ago. They all acquitted themselves well on the day: Luka on lockdown in defence, George causing havoc in the forward line despite an injury, Cam and Nick with cool heads and clean hands, Tom's immense work-rate on the wing and Jack claiming the Royal Derby voucher as our best player.
To add to this, both thirds teams and the reserves each had a similar number of players pull on the jumper for the first time - a very proud day for the club. Despite these positives, the seniors fell short in what was a disappointing result despite the strength of the opposition. Blacks took more of their opportunities than we did, but it was pleasing to see our young midfield brigade compete strongly all day to provide those opportunities. All of them have worked tremendously hard over pre-season and I'm looking forward to seeing them continue to develop - however, birth certificates will not be an excuse for us this year. Special mention to Ligga, another vice captain, who led in my absence and was outstanding from the moment the ball was bounced. In fact, I'm not sure why I'm writing this and not him?
Overall though, the highlight of my day was seeing two of my all-time favourite teammates return to senior footy. Chris Doherty and Michael Cussen are two guys who truly commit themselves to the contest and are a pleasure to play with - I'm glad I never gave up hope of playing with them again, and am excited to do so when I make it back myself. It was great to see Cuss delight the crowd with a classic pack mark, and Dohers almost had an early contender for goal of the year with a volley out of a pack late that was touched on the line.
Looking forward to taking the Norm Johnstone trophy home from Parkdale on Saturday,
Show your Pride! Our inaugural Pride supporter guernseys are now available for pre order!
When the club knew we had the chance to wear a Pride guernsey, our Senior Women's Leadership group led the process and soon we had designer extraordinaire, Nikkita Alexander, sister of Shannon, on the job! Nikkita worked on several design options, and the team voted on their chosen design to celebrate our LGBTIQ+ community.
"I was very excited and proud to hear that my design was chosen and for the very first Pride game, it is very special and something I’ll be proud of for a long time." Nikkita said. "I was also happy to design a supporters T-Shirt as well (which will be available for purchase at the Pride game!) I’ve been to a couple of Fitzroy games and I see how much the community gets around the girls and supports them with all kinds of merch, my favourite is the dog sweater!"
We love that we'll be able to offer some more merchandise to our Roys family who want to show their Pride and support for diversity and inclusion. We know it's about more than merch, as does Nikkita.
"Visibility within sport and celebrating the queer community helps make sports a friendly and safe environment for everyone. Showing that the Fitzroy Football Club are welcoming and accept everyone for who they are, allows people to be themselves and not hide, that’s the most important thing."
For Nikkita, as a designer, she had her work cut out for her to keep the Fitzroy spirit alive in our guernsey, but also give it a new and powerful message.
"I really wanted to keep the traditional Fitzroy guernsey, so I did some research on other guernseys the club has had in the past and this pointed me in the right direction creatively. I also wanted to incorporate a design that represents the LGBTIQ+ community. Having the Trans flag on the back is also very important because they’re such a marginalised community within the LGBTIQ+ community and I wanted Trans people to feel that club is inclusive of them too."
When our women's teams run out in the guernseys for the first time on May 2nd, Nikkita hopes the girls feel as special wearing our Pride guernsey as she will watching them play in it.
"I’d like the girls to feel that they’re representing both the Fitzroy Football Club and the LBGTIQ+ community. That this jumper symbolises the rich culture of Fitzroy and how this football club will progress."