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Thread: Everything Old is New Again

  1. #1

    Everything Old is New Again

    The announcement that the Swans plan to re-occupy a space in the old Showground made this old man very happy. Two of my favorite institutions are to re-unite.

    I worked at the old Showground from the late 1980’s until the move to Homebush in 1998. When I started the Swans had their office, year round, in the lower section of the Pat Hills stand (re-named by the Liberal Government as the Bill O’Reilly Stand – don’t you love the pettiness of politics).

    That stand was built in the 1980’s and relied on a lease from the RAS to allow its footprint to be extended. The quid pro quo was some office space on the lower level that was accessed from the Showground. I think the Swans occupied that until Fox Studios took over the area.

    The rest of the Swans facilities were available only for 10 or 11 months of the year to allow the build up and operation of the Easter Show. With the dates of Easter having a wide variation (mid March to late April) and the AFL season usually starting late March (with practice matches even earlier), it must have been a nightmare to prepare and train a team.
    The showground arena was the original training oval. After the Show, the grass levels were minimal with horse events, the Holden cars and other entertainment destroying the surface. Winter is not conducive to grass growing, and with horse manure as an added liability, training must have had challenges.

    The gym was housed in the “French Pavilion” built in the 1950’s. As explained above, it was usually not available for much of the pre-season, and certainly it was not adapted as a professional sporting facility.

    The Swans had played 11 games in Sydney for the 1982 season as a trial. They “relocated” to Sydney for the 1983 season. I understand that financial viability was mostly tenuous throughout the 80’s with fluctuating on-field results and successive ownership changes. Ron Barassi was appointed as coach from 1993, and in that year he broke a 26 game losing streak and started the recovery to the Swans of today, including the fine training and offices in the SCG.

    My personal interest with the Swans started with Barassi. I recognised a sporting legend in our midst, but not many in Sydney did at that time. I had had little exposure to AFL until then, but the sight of the rather beaten up, near 60 year old sitting unknown and by himself in the showground canteen, whetted my appetite. The RAS made good money from charging for parking for Swans home games, and I started to come to games. I brought my very young sons too – at first for 1 quarter, and then to half time; parking up at ‘woodchop’ and walking the short distance to the Members stand.

    All 3 of us attended the victories in 2005 and 2012, and remain members today, even though we were all “Rugby” people by upbringing.

    So now the Swans will return to the old Showground in the Royal Hall of Industries. That building was opened just before the 1st World War, and as well as its show use for Show bags, it has housed exhibitions and events such as many years including many years of the gay Mardi Gras party.

    As I said, every old is new again.

  2. #2
    On the veteran's list
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    Great memories.
    Those who have the greatest power to hurt us are those we love.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    The announcement that the Swans plan to re-occupy a space in the old Showground made this old man very happy. Two of my favorite institutions are to re-unite.

    I worked at the old Showground from the late 1980’s until the move to Homebush in 1998. When I started the Swans had their office, year round, in the lower section of the Pat Hills stand (re-named by the Liberal Government as the Bill O’Reilly Stand – don’t you love the pettiness of politics).

    That stand was built in the 1980’s and relied on a lease from the RAS to allow its footprint to be extended. The quid pro quo was some office space on the lower level that was accessed from the Showground. I think the Swans occupied that until Fox Studios took over the area.

    The rest of the Swans facilities were available only for 10 or 11 months of the year to allow the build up and operation of the Easter Show. With the dates of Easter having a wide variation (mid March to late April) and the AFL season usually starting late March (with practice matches even earlier), it must have been a nightmare to prepare and train a team.
    The showground arena was the original training oval. After the Show, the grass levels were minimal with horse events, the Holden cars and other entertainment destroying the surface. Winter is not conducive to grass growing, and with horse manure as an added liability, training must have had challenges.

    The gym was housed in the “French Pavilion” built in the 1950’s. As explained above, it was usually not available for much of the pre-season, and certainly it was not adapted as a professional sporting facility.

    The Swans had played 11 games in Sydney for the 1982 season as a trial. They “relocated” to Sydney for the 1983 season. I understand that financial viability was mostly tenuous throughout the 80’s with fluctuating on-field results and successive ownership changes. Ron Barassi was appointed as coach from 1993, and in that year he broke a 26 game losing streak and started the recovery to the Swans of today, including the fine training and offices in the SCG.

    My personal interest with the Swans started with Barassi. I recognised a sporting legend in our midst, but not many in Sydney did at that time. I had had little exposure to AFL until then, but the sight of the rather beaten up, near 60 year old sitting unknown and by himself in the showground canteen, whetted my appetite. The RAS made good money from charging for parking for Swans home games, and I started to come to games. I brought my very young sons too – at first for 1 quarter, and then to half time; parking up at ‘woodchop’ and walking the short distance to the Members stand.

    All 3 of us attended the victories in 2005 and 2012, and remain members today, even though we were all “Rugby” people by upbringing.

    So now the Swans will return to the old Showground in the Royal Hall of Industries. That building was opened just before the 1st World War, and as well as its show use for Show bags, it has housed exhibitions and events such as many years including many years of the gay Mardi Gras party.

    As I said, every old is new again.
    Thanks MM for a really well written history lesson. As a Melbourne blood, I found it very informative as time marches on.

  4. #4
    Outer wing, Lake Oval Sandridge's Avatar
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    Great story about your background, MM!

  5. #5
    Senior Player
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    Good one MM - thanks for posting.

  6. #6
    pr. dim-melb; m not f
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    Love your story MM. And well done with "the kids"!
    He reminds him of the guys, close-set, slow, and never rattled, who were play-makers on the team. (John Updike, seeing Josh Kennedy in a crystal ball)

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