richmond

Buggerlugs - Anne's Story

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Originally our house on Punt Road, Richmond, had a privet hedge. Once I remember a man having a quiet and private piss into it.

Then my mother scavenged a lot of stone and built a big wall. It barely got through council: my father said it was probably because it reminded them of their days inside! It must have made my mother feel very safe because she always used to walk naked from the veranda down the steps to the front gate to get the milk and the paper in the morning.

In those days, the 1960s, the paper boy ('Buggerlugs') and the milko who delivered from a cart pulled by a slow and patient horse, got a present at Christmas time, maybe ten shillings? I don't know, it was my father who kept the custom going.

Bakehouse Studios – Stories from Helen and Quincy

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Helen: Bakehouse has only ever had three owners. The stable part of the building was built in the late 1800s by the Walters family, and they were carriers who came from NSW. Olden days furniture removalists, with their horse and cart, etc. It was a fairly large stable and it had a mezzanine on top where you’d drop the hay down to feed the horses. I’ve even got distant memories of coming here in the early ‘80s and there still being hay down on the ground. That old bluestone on the ground there. Then Mr Walter built the house for his family in about 1910, from what I know. It’s a 4-bedroom house. Then there’s been a series of extensions. So in about, early 1950s, it was then sold to the Shirr family…

So going back to the Walters, the daughter or the wife was one of the Coppin girls, so they're steeped in Richmond history. Originally our old next door neighbours, when we first came here, there were a number of little houses down the street. So this was probably one of the largest houses, and then small single storey, free-standing cottages. Built around the turn of the century, when the house was built here. In the '50s the Shirr family took over and they had storage and they were rag-traders, as far as I know. And the factory may have been built at the back just before that. The top floor had all their stuff, and they used this as their factory manufacturing clothing and textiles.

And then, over that period, when the father died – they were a Jewish migrant family – the ground floor became a squat at some time. It was in about 1984 or ’85 that Stable Sound Studios took over and it was a guy called Manny, that we knew, and his partner. They were hospitality people and they ran audio schools back in the ‘80s. They set up rehearsal rooms here. It was pretty well decked out for that. The fact that you had a large stable room at the front that was a makeshift studio and then a number of small rooms through the place. When we first came here there was a double window and you had that recording studio happening downstairs.

Upstairs, the matriarch of the Shirr family had stored a lot of her husband’s possessions and so much old fabrics and teatowels and blankets packaged in cellaphone. About six or seven years ago it was taken over by the Win family. You’ve got the story of Australian immigration in a way: the old English family selling to the Jewish immigrants onto the Vietnamese family. So they’re a consortium and they own a number of warehouses and properties all around. Apparently they started with one very small one in Victoria St and now they own about 40 factories throughout Victoria.

When they took over, we inherited all the stuff upstairs as the existing tenants, and we’ve used a lot of that stuff throughout the building. So old radiograms, there were prints from the 1800s, etchings from Moonee Valley Racecourse. There were boxes of Navy issue, 1950s button-up white shorts, that we’ve used in an art installation. Reams and reams of fabric. And a lot of it was water damaged and they’d been pigeons through the building so we’ve had to become really creative on how we can use all of that.

We’ve been very careful to maintain all of that. So when it comes to the early historical fixtures and fittings we’ve kept them. And primarily because we’re an arts business. It suited us to maintain to integrity and the character of the building. But also have it on display because it’s part of the heritage. I suspect that if this little building here had been knocked down – like nearly every single building in this stretch – and turned into office blocks in the ‘80s…

So we’re zoned industrial/commercial on this part of Hoddle St. Over the years we’ve seen this rise in offices. But we’ve been fortunate in a sense that there’s often a very low occupancy for tenants in those places, because there’s such a glut of office space. And there’s a real scramble to get apartments built. But given our zoning, we’re lucky that… it’s unlikely that this part of Hoddle St will be a residential area, in the near future. But we are surrounded by a lot of mixed-use dwellings. And you would’ve probably spoken to people and seen that there are residents starting to move in that weren’t there previously, apart from the old houses that’ve been there for a long time. 

So interesting with the three families. People drive by and they don’t really know what’s in here but because we’ve operated at music studios for so many years, if you’ve been in a band or played any sort of music, and you’ve lived in Melbourne or parts of Australia, at some time or another you would’ve come through Bakehouse for some kind of project.

The Bakehouse name came from our first studio in Bakehouse Lane, which is the old York St Studios. One of the oldest existing recording studios in Australia. 

The first studio was Stable Sound Studios in the ‘80s. And then it was bought by a guy called Mark who turned it into Thunderfield Studios. We came through about 17 years ago.

Back in the ‘80s, Quincy had a really popular band called Blue Ruin and did a lot of touring.

The great thing about Bakehouse for bands is it’s such a central location. And it’s serviced by the two freeways, and Hoddle St, and public transport. So if you’ve got a member in St Kilda and a member in Brunswick…

Good ol’ Dr Kate Shaw who’s mapped all these cultural clusters over the last twenty years or so, has shown that there’s still a real proliferation of cultural clusters, in the inner city. And there’s two little projections going north: Sydney Rd and High St. But there’s still a diverse amount of artists and makers and live music venues around the Collingwood, Fitzroy, Richmond area. There’s a lot of reasons for this. There’s a mixture with the cost of property – where there’s cheap rent, you’ll still artists around.

It’s changing pretty quickly. There's a real build up of developments around us. On Hoddle St all the cottages have gone, in the years we’ve been here. And a lot of the industrial factories. A good example, when we first moved to this area, and part of the reason Stable Sound found this building was the Richmond Tavern was opposite. And then it was the Sydenham Hotel. And it was a predominant live music venue.

Quincy: This building was a squat before it was taken over by Stable Sound. And next door was a derelict building that one of the staff of the previous owners ended up living in. And paid them $11 a week rent.

Helen: And he used to come here and have his showers!

Quincy: We inherited him with the business.

Helen: The rail line, often you’ll find arts and cultural businesses, particularly places like this that make a lot of noise. Because, apart from being an industrial/commercial area, being nestled in between Hoddle St, the rail line, the tram lines, cheaper industrial spaces, the commission flats at the end…

Quincy: We and the other practitioners of culture basically saw this as perfect for us because it was not desirable by the general public. But of course with gentrification…

Helen: There were no residents for years and years and years and they’ve just started springing up. I think the Sydenham came first, then Stable Sound, then Billy Hyde set up their hire space just opposite here on Little Hoddle St. And then Audrey’s recording studios backing onto Little Hoddle. Then Midian Studios moved down to just off York St, rehearsal studios. Frank has his mastering and audio studio where he recorded Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know at that studio, which is a few doors down. The biggest selling single ever to come out of Australia was recorded just here.

Quincy: They did a lot of their pre-production here. He and Kimbra in that year were doing a lot of rehearsals here. For international touring bands, Lonsdale St becomes Albert St becomes Elizabeth St, so it’s a direct run from the hotels in the middle of the city to drive to Bakehouse in their vans, their convoy of tour buses. 

Helen: The back entrance is the entrance that musicians know. The front sign is something that the general public have this vague idea of what goes on in there.

Quincy: The misinterpretations are pretty varied as well. A lot of people assume it’s an old bakery, but this building was never a bakery. James Black from Rockwiz said he’d pointed out the sign to his daughter and said that’s where he was working. And she said, 'There? In the crematorium?' She thought the microphone on the sign was a coffin. She thought it was where they baked…

Interviewer: Tell me about the sign.

Quincy: We had the logo done by an old friend of ours, Nick McGee. He took it from a cross of American deco graphics and a little bit of the Communist propaganda. A band that rehearsed here had a bunch of signwriters who offered to make us a sign. And we had a vision of a rusty metal thing. So they got up there and did it from up the top. The sign is nothing to do with this building historically, it’s to do with our business.

We definitely wanted to keep it in the feel of the building and deliberately setting it in the arch. With a lot of what we’ve done here, we wanted it to look like, that’s how it always was. We wanted to maintain the feel. It’s such a beautiful… It’s easy to get rid of it, it’s impossible to reinstate it.

Helen: The one thing with Hoddle St, you’ll find, and Punt Rd, you’re just swamped with advertising. People are pushing products and, if it’d been anyone else, except for Quincy and I, they’d probably would’ve had a blaring big sign advertising Studio Rooms. And in your face advertising. We’ve done things subtlely. Particularly now that we get all those big name artists through, it’s important that we respect their privacy as well. Over the years, there’s been a lot more interest in the building since Paul Kelly let the cat out of the bag and filmed his documentary upstairs: 'This is where I’ve been doing my rehearsals for the past 20 years, in this space.' And then there was all this interest from the general public. Nick Cave, when he came here with the Bad Seeds and Grinderman, and many of his projects, he’s had photographers through and had whole series of photos taken here on his website. You can imagine how intense his fans are and they want to see where Nick Cave rehearses. 

Quincy: We don’t tend to have people wanting to sneak in. Fortunately it’s tucked away enough and it’s still private enough that that’s never been an issue.

Helen: But then you get this legendary thing happening. Nick has this thing – he loves to sit in the courtyard, dressed in his suit and jewels and unbuttoned shirt and cufflinks and just watch the young bands come out of the room and, losing their shit, going absolutely white when they see him. And he says, 'Look at the youth of today, aren’t they fabulous?'

Quincy: We got our only real neighbour complaints when Tool rehearsed here for two hours, because they were so monstrously loud. 

Helen: Because it’s such an old building and they were such a loud monstrous band, there was a layer of dust left in the room upstairs. 

Quincy: They shook the dust out of the ceiling. It’s 100+ years old with cracks between the boards and it just rained dirt.

Interviewer: The sense of community here amongst artists is a clear thing...

Quincy: There’s a lot of bands who have been rehearsing then they have their breaks in the courtyard and they’ve met other members in the courtyard and start a new side project.

Helen: So there’s been bands formed, relationships formed, and lost, tours booked. We’ve had every major promoter, tour booker, curator come through and look at various acts. Having that central gorgeous garden and this is just a big communal kitchen, that’s the interesting thing. Just a couple of weeks ago we had all these Blues guys here, mixed in with hip young things, metal guys, making a cup of tea together. And the Hotham St Ladies were doing an artwork down on Little Hoddle St, and all these touring New Yorkers were taking photos and Instagramming it. Our own little guerilla feminist Banksys. There’s always this incredible activity, a fabulous communal feeling here.

We’re proud to say that Bakehouse has played such a major role in the last few years. Protecting the sector all around the country. And it has stemmed from the history, of all the artists who’ve come through here. Elvis Costello came here and said they’re some of the best rooms he’s ever been to in the world. People like Olivia Newton-John, Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics when he toured and spent a week upstairs.

Everybody from Australia from Ross Wilson to Noiseworks to Tina Arena to Hunters and Collectors. Of course Nick Cave. And the Cat Empire. The list goes on and on and on. Archie Roach and the Black Arm Band. John Butler. Gotye and Kimbra. Cut Copy. The Avalanches. Jet, Dan Sultan, Megan Washington. 

Interviewer: Tell me a bit about the practicalities of running a business on Hoddle Street.

Helen: Often Hoddle St has been described as the lung of Melbourne. The pollution, the dust, the dirt. Our garden is an oasis of carbon-sucking plants. We need a lot of plants around. We have to clean windows a lot. The black grease that comes off. A lot of double-glazing, good insulation, ventilation. Over the years the black dust has decreased. I’d say since unleaded, with less super and diesel. There are not as many trucks down Hoddle St these days. The other challenge is traffic noise, if you’re doing sensitive recording, you have to shield against that. But it’s not as bad as trams. Trams and trains. We’re far enough away from the train tracks. They give you this bottom end rumble. But you can soundproof against the cars. 

We’re very aware that everything is going to be turned into residential around us. Their expectations are different to businesses. Businesses understand there’s a certain amount of commercial noise. They know we’ve been here for 30 years operating as a studio. They tolerate it. Residents come in expecting a good night’s sleep, which they should get, but our understanding of a mixed use zone versus a quiet, leafy residential neighbourhood zone should be different. The law will reflect this very soon, in the coming weeks, as a result of SLAM.

One challenge that we’re facing now is that we’ve got two major developments within 50 metres of us. Residential. They’ll be zoned mixed use and they’ll have some retail at the ground floor. There is nothing above three storeys in this area. One of them will be eight storeys high, the old Richmond Tavern, with 56 apartments. So parking will become an issue. We just have to diversify. We deal with the developers at ground level. We’ve been given the tools to do this with our work with SLAM.

We’ve identified how we can survive. Because the building is under review for heritage listing, and we don’t want to move out to the ‘burbs. We’re collaborating with visual artists by bringing them in and presenting public art out the front and in the rooms. We’re probably going down the European model where, if you go to a rehearsal room in Europe, the back-line is in every room. The drums, the amps, everything’s ready to go. So all you need to bring is your guitar, your pedals, your snare, your sticks, whatever.

Traditionally, in Australia, musicians cart their own gear because they’re very particular about their sounds but inner city living will dictate a little about how we run our business. Also to allow people to come by public transport, as the parking will reduce in the area.

Ultimately we’d like musicians to be able to come here on public transport and not need their vans. Australians are so tied to their cars, we’d prefer not to see four vans coming. Hopefully we can see more of that in the future and create an environment where that will work.

We’ve got a 15-year lease, the idea is that we stay. The heritage overlay is great for us because it means it won’t be turned into an office block. Hopefully we’ll be here for a long time.

Belonging to Richmond Football Club - Geraldine's Story

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I speak to a lot of people who have a lot of these stories all the time. The commonality with it all is that it’s a sense of belonging for them. They belong to something greater than themselves. There are many requests for scattering ashes, either on Punt Road Oval – which we can’t do because they burn the grass – but they’ll divot, they’ll have ceremonies. Since the oval’s been completed, there’ve probably been up to 14 occasions. They’re not all on the oval. They’ll go to the Jack Dyer statue which is out this side of the building. They’ll go on there with flowers, they’ll take photos, one had a Salvation Army pastor to conduct a ceremony on the farewell. That’s how passionate they are.

Tiger Turf - Roland's Story

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I’ve been a member of Richmond Football Club for almost 50 years. I’ve missed one game in the past 41 years. Doesn’t matter where it’s played. I started following the Tiges in 1964. Parents both followed footy but didn’t push me one way or the other. The first week at school two kids had Richmond jumpers on and that was it. Within a year I was cutting out every Richmond article in the paper. Getting the cornflakes to get the Richmond badge out of it and fighting with my brother and cornflakes going all over the kitchen floor.

I’ve been pretty full on involved with RFC – I got involved 27 years ago, in one of the supporter groups. I was involved with the membership department for a long time. Used to head up my own membership team at the MCG until six or seven years ago. Was involved in the inaugural historical committee, which we started in 1991. It’s been a long haul.

There are only two of us left from that inaugural one. When we finally got a space, which was the old cricket club boardroom, at the time the CEO was Jim Malone and he said, 'We’ve found this space, guys, would you like to do something?' We said, 'Fantastic.' Then we had to find a carpet layer who barracked for Richmond, an electrician who barracked for Richmond, I did some painting and whatever but we got there. It leaked and the rats got in but it was something. Everyone who came there loved it. That was the start of it. 

Then with the Punt Rd redevelopment, the biggest redevelopment the ground’s ever had, we managed to secure this area here in the old Jack Dyer Stand. The stand’s just turned 100 years old so it’s the perfect place for a museum. 

Richmond first played here at the Punt Road Oval in 1885. The RFC as we know it. There would’ve been more games here during the war, of course. The MCG was used for the soldiers and covered in tents. Grounds like Punt Rd, the old Junction Oval, used to be St Kilda’s home ground, was also used. There were even finals played on some of those away grounds as well during that time. Other teams like Melbourne did play games here. The cricket has always been here – it started off as the Richmond Cricket Club ground. There used to be tennis courts here, a long time ago.

There was a big tree out to the side there. In the early days, they used to get up there and start screaming, 'Eat ‘em alive.' I’ve even got part of that original tree here in the museum. It was pulled down 85-90 years ago. When they chopped it down – it was a massive big tree – and when they were building the king stand, which then became the social club building, they were doing the excavation, there was this perfect red gum stump there so they carved off a few bits of it.

We moved to the MCG in ’64. To raise a bit of money the club had go-cart races out here on the ground. Wouldn’t have done the ground much good because it was basically a swamp out there most of the year. It’s seen a lot of things: functions, weddings, funerals. It’s the whole gamut of people’s lives around Richmond.

I don't remember my first visit to Punt Rd Oval. My dad says he brought me here for a game of footy when I was three or four. I’ve got no real recollection of it. My main recollection is hopping off at Richmond Station, walking across, and along Brunton Ave there was some of the old turnstiles. On the corner of Punt Rd/Brunton Ave was the old bar areas. They were falling down, the blackberries were over them. Sometimes I’d come down and watch training and go exploring. 

You get to the early ‘70s and Richmond was a powerhouse club. The steps up to the seats in the old Jack Dyer stand had rotted down. You couldn’t get up there. There were blackberries out the front. But geez you knew you were at the Richmond footy club. I can’t explain it – my arms are getting goosebumps – there was a buzz about the place: you were at Richmond. I can’t put it into words. You’re out there watching legends of the game training, the place was literally falling down. A couple of years later there was a fire and, rumour has it, one of the committee members set fire to it to get the insurance money. But it hasn’t been confirmed and I won’t mention his name.

My first memories are coming to a place that’s literally been let go and is falling down, because they’d moved to the MCG. So long as the grass was cut and the players could train, they were pretty much happy with that. I’ve lived through most of the changes and had a lot of involvement with a lot of them too. It’s been a good journey.

There were a lot of characters. A number of years ago before the Jack Dyer Stand was refurbished, I went up to the CEO of the time. I said, 'Can I have a look through the ceiling of the stand?' He said, 'That’s fine, come in one Sunday and have a look through.' Up in the changerooms there used to be a little trapdoor. So I climbed up and there’s all these mint condition beer cans from the 1960s. Turns out there were several players that used to get up there, hide from the coach, and basically get pissed. After the game and training nights.

Mal Brown was a character in himself, an interesting guy. He was champion in Perth, came across here in ’74, would’ve been a premiership player but he biffed somebody and got rubbed out. Mal thought, 'I’ll put Charlie on the spot.' Charlie was an elderly gentleman at this point and used to ride a pushbike. So Mal went and got Charlie’s pushbike and chained it to the front fence of the brothel. And photographed it. Poor old Charlie.

Around 1989-90 the club was in big trouble financially. We had an endangered species campaign over two years. And, at the time, Punt Rd was being widened. We came up with this idea, and it was one of the most successful fundraising ideas the club’s ever done. Let’s get the dirt, as they dug up what was the ground, let’s sell Tiger Turf. So we brought in 100,000 of these little jars. We all went down there for a couple of days and sat there for eight hours, putting dirt into jars, putting the cap on, wiping them down, then putting a label on them: Tiger Turf. And we raised tens of thousands of dollars. Just purely based on the love of the Punt Rd ground, from the supporters, they wanted their piece of Punt Rd. To this day, people will come into the museum and say, 'I’ve got my jar of Tiger Turf at home.' That’s what Richmond, Punt Rd is about. We’re here, purely because of the supporters, not the corporate people, it was the run-of-the-mill supporters that saved the club.  

The most moving time of my life was that time, you’d have kids come down with a money box, 'This is all I’ve got but will it help save the club?'

There was a rumour that someone was buried out there, 60 or 70 years ago. But it probably is a rumour. The club did have its own cat, Moggy, for a long time. When Moggy died a few years ago there was a little ceremony and she was buried down in the goal square. 

We’ve still got our home. We’ve never left. We’ve always been here. People come into the museum and they talk about Richmond, and it always gets back to Punt Rd. A lot of them live in Ringwood or Werribee now, but they talk about grandma who used to live in Richmond and that’s why the family follow Richmond. 

If you go back 100 years it was Richmond and that was the suburb and everyone stuck together. There were various football teams in Richmond as well as the RFC. It was all about your suburb. You had picture theatres, the Richmond rowing club, you name it. It was all here.

In the old days it was a working class suburb. Richmond had their own brewery. There was the Heinz factory. It was an industrial area. Bootmakers and all that sort of thing. They were their own little group and they employed their own people. It really was like its own little country almost.

Personally, I’d cut Punt Rd off, because all roads should lead to the Richmond Football Club.

A tiptop bit of geography - Bill's Story

richmond

I started following Richmond in 1943. I’m 80 years of age now. 1943, I was a 10-year-old at school. A classmate said, 'Who do you barrack for?' I thought, oops... Richmond had just been premieres so I immediately said Richmond. A couple of other guys said Richmond. Whilst 1943 we’d won the premiership, this was post the premiership, I didn’t know I was going to wait another 24 years till we saluted again. But my friend, named Bruce, nominated Richmond as his club, and he lived nearby.

We then went to every Punt Rd game. I’m 11 at this stage. It was easy to get to Punt Rd on public transport – we lived in Caulfield. We’d get a tram that took us down to Acland St where the bus came straight to the ground. And, apart from two years when I played football, I missed three games only in 50 years. Of which, all those years post war, till we moved to the MCG, which was 20 years, I missed three games of footy, but only one of them was at Punt Rd.

So on the journey I saw every game at Punt Rd which was Saturday afternoon. Always. Every second week. No-one would have seen more games here, in that period. My origins started because of the ’43 premiership. In those 50 years where I did miss three games, I was appointed to various jobs here. One as a statistician. And in 25 years as a statistician I didn’t miss a game. Seconds, firsts or practice games, interstate, everywhere. So that accumulated nearly 1200 games without a miss officially. So my involvement as a statistician developed from my early interest. I’ve always kept details, stats and scrapbooks. So the club identified me, and appointed me club historian in 1986. Which is getting towards 30 years ago. And the origins of the museum and where we’re at now, and the history, had a bit of a starting point.

Initially when we started getting goodies coming in, the club announced that we now have a club historian, and we’d be happy to collect bits and pieces. We had many players say, 'Oh that’s good, I’ve got it in the garage or under the bed or when I go it’ll go with me.' So there was a couple of cubby holes in the old building. One was a disused toilet where we stacked boxes. Those places got filled. And I did give up a room at home. And in the end, before we got the museum, I could only sidle my way in and out of the room with boxes and bits and pieces.

The origins of our collections, or donations, really started when I was appointed, because there was someone official, recognised by our supporters, and the bits and pieces that have come since is a flow-on from knowing there is a resting place, where it can be shared, by supporters. The supporters love it. One of our famous guys, Jack Dyer, in our former museum, he spent nearly one day going down just one wall. Long before we had something established quite like this. Players love to see bits and pieces. You could have a player say, 'What do I got to do to get my jumper?' The answer is, 'Give us one.'

The beaut thing is we endeavoured to get a team photo of every year. When the team photos were taken, on that day there may have only been the 18 or 19 selected. Some would be in the seconds or injured. But the team photo wasn’t inclusive of the whole list for that year. We had footballers coming in, with grandsons, showing them the photo with grandpa in or dad and, oops, on the day of the photo… So what we did then we researched everyone who played in that year, we identified everyone in the photo, and they went way back. We also had underneath: ‘Also played’. So if grandpa was injured on that day, grandson wasn’t disappointed: 'You told me Grandpa you played for Richmond and you’re not in that photo.' So little things like that where former players are proud of it, proud to show off to their children, grandchildren, and the supporters. And even a lot of staff here now who don’t have Richmond origins but our history is here. We did have one group of management here said, 'We’ve got no interest in the history – it’s today or tomorrow.' But I’ve never seen a house or anything built that didn’t have a foundation. So we’ve got a good example here, back to 1885.

I can remember my first visit to Punt Road Oval in 1944. The bus pulled up out here and with a child’s member ticket you came in the grandstand area. And it had a smell: the ground was one-third quagmire type. You could see patches of green, patches that weren’t mud anyway. As you ran down the race you were straight away covered in mud. This was in the middle of winter. It had a smell of, a sour smell, like damp. Yet that was Punt Rd.

Down the end of the grandstand there was a bar area. We used to have halftime entertainment here, better than the halftime entertainment they had over there. There was one older fellow, I was young so everyone was older, he had a long coat on and a hat. At halftime he took it upon himself to enter the ground and protrude onto the ground. He wasn’t supposed to be there. He’d run out on the green bits, which wasn’t easy. And the ground would erupt, 'Here he is!' Then the police would come to chase him. This was like those Keystone Cops. The nearer they got to him, he’d slip and slide and they’d slip. And we used to look forward immensely to this fellow, you’d get a half the game start at the bar, so his courage was there.

I remember when the guy went round the ground with peanuts for thruppence a bag. At halfway he’d walk round. Say they had an end of season trip coming or a wedding, they used to march around with a big tarpaulin, say four people, one each corner. They’d march round the ground and you’d throw coins. If you were near the boundary, come this opportunity of the canvas collection thing, you’d get hit on the head with a 20c piece. So that was a bit of comedy and you’d see kids running round hoping that two shillings didn’t make it in.

It was just such a 'look forward' routine. You knew which bus you got on, every second week, and if it was Collingwood, Fitzroy, Carlton or St Kilda. There was a tram you could get. We went on trams to virtually every game. Saying I didn’t miss a game, that included their away games. Looking forward to this Saturday afternoon, growing through my adolescent years, right up until they moved.

As the bus gathered passengers on the way, you’d see these regulars get on in their Richmond regalia. I can still visualise this bus – it was a green bus – you nearly had the same seat. It was this Saturday ritual. It pulled up right out front the oval. You were there at the doorstep. The bus was just ideal. 

I guess I liked the bus trip too. I was 11 initially. We used to get on a tram, then a bus that got us onto Acland St, so it was really two buses. My friend Bruce lived on the bus route. You’d nearly see the same people on the same bus. 11-years-old, your parents say you can go to the footy, it was safe to go in those days. You don’t probably think of any danger in those years.

On the way home, you did it in reverse. And most times it was a loss. But we always had Brownlow Medalists in that time. We always had some star players. Collectively we only made the finals in 1947. In 1947 we played the first semi-final against Fitzroy and got beaten. We didn’t play another final till ’67.

More often we lost than won, but we had some icon players who stood out. I remember sticking up for myself and Richmond: often the better of the two teams may not have played the best game. We’re a pretty rugged lot here. We had some wild men. We had a guy named Mopsey Fraser who was mad. The lovely individual thing about Mopsey Fraser, rightly named because all his hair went out curly, at the start of the match, he wet it, so he came out looking spivvy. And then all of a sudden, as the game progressed, it’d… Beautifully nicknamed, beautifully cartooned. He actually got reported in his football career to the point where he missed 83 games. Not all of them here – he went on to coach Port Melbourne. 

What kept you interested back then: the personalities. We had another guy named Jeff Patterson. He became an entrepreneur, he rigged an Australian boxing title, he did everything that was a bit different. He drove big Cadillacs or something. He went into a hotel in Tassie. He was one of the first people to introduce overseas artists to this hotel in Tassie. Mopsey Fraser became a partner with him. On three occasions they stole their own safe and claimed the insurance.

To get into the footy ground, there was a plan adopted by young children. I didn’t do it but I did see them do it. Gather up a player as he’d be walking to come to the match, with a kit bag, every player had a kit bag. And they came by public transport the same as us, a lot of them. A lot of them lived around Richmond. So the plan was, and Charlie Calendar developed it, say to the player, 'Can I carry your bag?' And of course that got him in for nothing. And that was a thing you did back then.

There were holes round the fence you could climb through anyway. And I knew of them too. I can honestly say I never did. I always had a season ticket. But the kids that were short of thruppence, which was what it cost to get in. Charlie did that way, way back, this would be the ‘30s. As a result he was always round the rooms and he developed the role that they now call the Property Steward. Insomuch as he wheedled his way in and looked after the chewing gum. He was very thrifty, he cost the club little, because just using chewy as an example: he’d cut them in half and then if you wanted the other half you had to trade in the first bit. 

Charlie was the inaugural because, when the interstate teams developed, they were annual games, Charlie got appointed as the Property Steward to travel with them. The other terrific thing about him, he was so ‘cartoonable’. He had an extended nose, he always rolled his own cigarettes, he could keep it in his mouth till it got right down to the burny bit, his chin nearly went up to his nose. I’m not trying to paint him as ugly – he just had the right face for the job.

The players had to bring their own socks and shorts and take it home. Charlie’s wife, for many years, washed the jumpers. He saved them money. He got all these interstate trips – some of this collection of goodies, some of the stories he could tell, his initiatives to get into the ground for nothing. He died, he got to about 80. In his later years they gave him a title of Property Adviser here. He was just so much of Richmond for 60 or 70 years.

I can remember Punt Rd, in the ‘60s, I would come with my father and Uncle Tom (not an uncle but a close friend). We would drive from Caulfield, up Punt Rd, to an area that’s between Swan St and down at the freeway. There was a big hotel down on the corner – it’s gone now. We’d park the car as near as we could to the pub because, in 1966, prior to that it was six o’clock closing. You could park on Punt Rd all day and we’d get on the other side, about equal distance to the ground, so we had to walk to the ground, but then we’d walk straight down to the pub.

The game would finish at around five o’clock. By the time we got to the hotel it’d be quarter past, we knew we had three-quarters of an hour, and our car was nearby. Often I can remember a bit before, this side street that’s up beside the pub, if you got here early enough, we could park the car there, and we had a car you couldn’t lock, it had a dickie seat in the back and the canvas. We’d park there conveniently. It’s a clearway now, you can’t get anywhere near it. 

The lovely other thing here, Alice Wills is the only lady we’ve had as a life member of this club. She sadly died about a month ago. She ran a supporters club here – she ran this grandstand, the front six or eight roles, Alice controlled. This Uncle Tom, in the early ‘60s, I used to bring him in my car then. He was getting fragile in walking. We’d get a standing pozzie in front of the grandstand. And one day Alice Wills spotted me, who she knew reasonably well, not so much Uncle Tom. She said, 'Billy, your friend down there, he’s having difficulty standing down there all day, isn’t it? I’m going to ask all the ladies to move up one and Uncle Tom can come and sit up amongst all these ladies. There’s only one thing he’s got to do: every day we put in a shilling and vote on our best player.'

 

We had a player in the ‘60s, Paddy, whose dad also played for Richmond in the ’30s. I hear the yarns from Paddy who tells me yarns from his dad. Everyone who lived in Richmond barracked for Richmond. A lot of the players lived in Richmond. So two o’clock on Saturday Richmond moved from the residential, across Punt Rd, to the ground. And the rivalry, which is unique in the world, for a city where there used to be 12 teams, or 11 plus Geelong, to sustain a competition, with a population and a following, is world unique. If you cross Victoria St, from the Richmond location into Collingwood, well that was enemy territory. Every second Saturday afternoon, everything in Richmond stopped to attend the game. 

I can remember Graham Richmond, who became a powerhouse here, back in the ‘60s towards the ‘70s, he started buying up homes in Richmond. They were rundown. He had a group of tradesmen doing them up. So the suburb started to change from these, not flash homes, and it’s one suburb from the city, it’s got transport everywhere. So it’s a tiptop bit of geography to develop. The content and the people changed, as the pioneers of the suburb moved away, their families moved away a bit. Demographics changed.

There were no seatbelts back then. Deaths were a thousand a year when there wasn’t that many cars on the road. The dopey thing we used to do… The fact that we could conveniently park not far from the game, not far from the pub, we had an hour between the game finish and six o’clock closing… You could almost walk along Punt Rd faster than you could drive along it. Even though they have widened it, it’s still this conduit between north and south. You’ve got to get over the river.

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Aerial view of Richmond, Victoria, showing Punt Road oval in foreground.
Creator: Airspy.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.

I like to ride my bike - Mai's Story

bicycle

When I just arrived in Australia, I lived in Melbourne. For 23 years already. I live in Richmond, but I used to come to my friend and I started work this year in the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

I travel to Collingwood from Richmond by bike every Tuesday. Volunteer job. I like all the Hoddle Street people. I like to ride my bike from my home to come here. I ride from the morning at about 9.30am and then I come home about three o’clock. I ride over the footbridge. I ride to the Collingwood Library. I love it.

Every year we have the Harvest Festival in April. Just finished. We cook and we serve for all the people all around. 

Richmond days - Aileen's Story

pharmacy

I’m an ex-student of Yarra Park State School, SS1406. It was really a tremendous school. I can still remember lots of my teachers' names. Grade 6 was Miss Simmons who put the fear of god into you.

From there when you graduated you went to either Hawthorn West or Richmond Girls School. I managed to find a job after school running errands for Mr Burns the chemist, at 36 Bridge Rd, Richmond. And when I left school at 14 I went to work there full-time. It was a fantastic place.

I can remember the pub on the corner and there was a confectionary shop and tailor next door. We lived in Rowena Pde, Richmond, and that was opposite the park, near where the Richmond footy ground was. My brother and I knew a way, through the caretaker’s cottage at the back, to get into the footy for nothing. We used to crawl through the fence. My brother, who was a bit of a devil, used to climb up onto the grandstand and sit up on top.

Curb Market - Priscilla's Story

I was born in Highett St, which runs into Hoddle, back in the ’30s. There used to be a market in Highett St called Curb Market. It was right beside the reserve there. In later years, they shifted it around the corner into Gleadall St. I was born in Highett St and, in those days, some of the houses up towards the station were absolutely beautiful. We rented a two-storey house. They’ve now demolished that and that’s where the flats are, but it grieves my heart when I go past there. We spent so many happy years there.

market