Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Soccer on Albert Park 1953

This article from the Sporting Globe in 1953 is an important one. Written by J.O. (Owen) Wilshaw it points to a number of problems bedevilling soccer in Melbourne. It also reveals some interesting history and politics within the game.

Perhaps most important is that it embeds the game in Albert Park, pointing to the then 70-year history of the game there. It also shows the extent to which the game's historical presence is effaced in attempts to reject its requirements.

The article also documents an earlier moment in which ethnic British clubs are effectively wiped out by a council decision which does not seem to have been opposed by the association. Whether the association is guilty of a sin of omission or commission is an interesting question. The point is that from this moment issues a more general, district and sub-district system which includes clubs like Brighton, Moreland, Box Hill and Footscray. There are a lot of parallels between this moment and present-day attempts to squeeze out ethnic clubs in favour of regional and district clubs.

Also covered is the extent to which overcrowding at unenclosed grounds and not ethnicity seems to be the cause of trouble at games in the early 1950s. This is a point that backs up Roy Hay and John Kallinikios's writings on the matter. The fact that 'established' codes and games were also paying peppercorn rentals while soccer was having to fork out big money for their grounds might well be the historical basis of today's ludicrous fees for junior soccer. We need a lot more evidence yet but it is a thought.

Soccer on Albert Park 
Those who oppose the move for a small section of Albert Park being fenced in and made available for cycling and soccer, may not know that the area has been the home of soccer for more than 70 years. Probably the Trust has received more revenue from this than any other code of football. 
In the early 1920s the area on the South side of the Middle Park bowling green was occupied by many soccer clubs whose boundaries almost touched each other. Later the Trust decided to fill in most of that area and it became more or less a rubbish tip. Instead of protesting the clubs accepted the position and strong organisations such as St. Kilda, Northumberland and Durham, Melbourne Thistle, Royal Caledonians and Albert Park were forced Out of existence. Other clubs found grounds in the suburbs which led to the code be-coming wider spread and much more popular than it had been before.
Efforts have been made over the years to obtain some enclosed suburban grounds on a share basis with another code. Generally, Councils turned a deaf ear to overtures. Yet they have received only "peppercorn" rent for grounds and might have received sufficient revenue to cover expenses instead of being a drag on ratepayers. Most trouble over the last year or so is that up to 10,000 spectators have attended unfenced grounds with nothing between them and the playing arena. Naturally, those not in a position to see what is taking place put on pressure which leads to those in front being forced on to the playing area and causing interference to players. 
Such incidents often lead to a "free-for-all" which brings the game into disrepute. Properly enclosed grounds would eradicate this. The Soccer Association is prepared to put in up to £1000 towards the fencing and pay substantial rent for use of the ground as well. Another aspect is that the public would not be excluded from the area any more than they are when a game is in progress in the vicinity on Saturdays — about four hours at most.

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