Good old Collingwood forever - Bob's Story


I was born across the road in Easey Street, 83 years ago, lived here all my life. Collingwood used to be a working class suburb. I'm retired now. And I’m the caretaker at Victoria Park (the home of Collingwood Football Club).

Started working here around 1950. Used to be that someone had to die before you could get a seat in that stand. If you came to the football and I came to the football and I miss one Saturday, half the crowd would stand up and say, 'Where’s Bobby?' Because everyone knew everyone. Judges, lawyers, senior heart surgeons, once they walked through the gate, with their scarves and beanies on, everyone’s treated equal.

People said, 'I used to barrack for Collingwood.' No, you never. Once you’ve started barracking you never followed anyone else.

But the suburb’s changed, with all the trendies and people moving in. It’s an established area. I met some people in Easey Street, there was a fellow there, Hungarian he was. He bought a little place up the road, then he bought another little place next to it. Now he owns half of Easey Street. Nobody can imagine what he’s worth now.

Five hotels disappeared from Hoddle Street when the road was widened. There was one on the corner of our street, the Railway Hotel, it closed its doors on Christmas Eve 1972. The day my daughter was engaged. The Railway across the road, that closed up. The Town Hall Hotel further down. Sir Henry Locke was a pub on the corner there. They used to have Ladies Lounges. Women weren’t allowed to drink in the bar.

There used to be 33 hotels in Collingwood. One on nearly every corner. You couldn’t walk two blocks without a pub. Where all those new buildings are, used to be Yarra Falls. Knitting mills. Made suit material and stuff. The whole block they had. From near the river, around to Johnston Street, then down to the bridge, was Yarra Falls. So there was about two or three thousand people would storm out every night time and out into the pubs.

There used to be a blacksmith on the corner of Sackville Street here. And a Klein's chemist. The other corner was Sir Henry Locke Hotel. 

As kids, we used to go and play under the Riley Street drain before the freeway. We used to walk up to Clifton Hill, up towards Carlton. A big open drain it was. We used to come home from school and play in the street. Till its time to come inside and have your tea at night. We used to go round to the local picture theatre and leave your front doors open at night, to let a cool breeze come through. Now you go inside and lock yourself in your own house. But it’s still the same suburb, just different people in it now. 

I know a lot of people, they’d go home, if Collingwood got beat they wouldn’t eat.

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria:
Victoria Park, Collingwood.
Date(s): [ca. 1906]
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.